ID badges for participants of conferences and congresses – Part 1

Are you aware that ID badges is the most frequently adopted method of verifying the identity of participants of events?

ID badges for participants of conferences and congresses – Part 1

They work very well at conferences, congresses, or seminars, among others. Selecting the appropriate type of ID badge is one of the crucial choices you must make. Each type is quite distinguished by its unique characteristics, which makes selecting the one that best suits your needs all the more important.

It is the usual practice that participants receive ID badges at a reception desk. It is the organiser that decides when they need to be ready. It can be done before the event, in which case ID badges are produced after registration of participants has been closed, or they can be printed at the reception desk, as guests are arriving.

The decision regarding the issuing of ID badges has an impact on available printing methods. This article discusses the available types of ID badges, one after the other, including some details about the costs of their manufacture. You will be the one to decide which method is the best for your event.

Plastic-coated paper ID badges

This is, by far, the most popular type of ID badges. They are made of heavy stock paper weighing 300g/m2 or more, and then coated with laminate or UV varnish. Unfortunately, technical limitations make it impossible to print such heavy badges when the event is in progress. Therefore, using this type of ID badges requires preparing all copies before the event actually starts.

Optionally, you can pre-print 10-20% blank ID badges and fill in personal data of participants with a different method. Then, you can use labels to print out the collected data (see Self-adhesive labels). Alternatively, you can use an appropriate model of a laser or ink printer to print data of participants, should you choose not to use laminate/UV varnish. However, it is quite complicated to calibrate printing parameters in office printers, which requires using paper as light as possible (300g/m2 is the absolute maximum, but many printers do not support anything higher than 240-250g/m2).

Advantages: High quality, aesthetic value, and low price. When printing a few hundred copies, the cost of one copy of the highest quality should not exceed $2,00.

Disadvantages: If you expect hundreds of participants, the use of such ID badges makes it necessary to divide reception desks in an alphabetical order (according to the first letters of surnames), or according to different categories. It is quite time-consuming to find an ID badge and it will never be faster than printing it out at the reception desk.

Printing out during the event: It is limited to personal data of participants printed with office printers, label printers, or handwritten with a marker.

Plastic cards used as ID badges for participants of events

Plastic ID badges must be made with printers that apply prints using special carbon paper. PVC IDs are quite commonly used in offices, as identifiers for employees.

Advantages: Plastic cards are very durable, aesthetic, and can offer additional functions (e.g. RFID).


If you decide to use plastic cards, printing all ID badges before the event may turn out to be the most optimal solution, considering the cost and time required to handle each individual participant. Then, you can print additional copies during the event, if there are unexpected guests, or people who lost their ID cards.

Printing out during the event: Whole cards or personal data only, if cards have already been printed initially with a graphic image;

ID badges printed on thermal transfer ribbons

In 2011, CONREGO used thermal transfer printers during the European Culture Congress. Such printers use rolls of thermal transfer ribbon and apply data by melting special “carbon paper” coating, making the dye present on its surface adhere to the surface of a ribbon. The ribbon should be printed with a graphic background of ID beforehand. The printer will only apply data in the form of personal data of a particular participant (and a QR code of a participant of the event), in black colour.



Printing out during the event: Only data corresponding to an individual participant;

That is not all, though. The upcoming article analyses the other two types of ID badges, i.e. paper passes and self-adhesive labels. They are considered to be the cheapest and the most flexible solution of all.

Tomasz Chrościechowski

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