Understanding the Differences Between Direct-to-Card and Retransfer

Understanding the Differences Between Direct-to-Card and Retransfer

When it comes to card printing, there are two primary options that consumers can choose from–direct-to-card and retransfer.  

What’s the difference between a direct-to-card and retransfer printer?  

It’s one of the most common questions we get to asked. 


  • Text and images are printed directly to the surface of the card through heat and pressure. This method the printhead comes into direct contact with the card’s surface during the printing process. 
  • Edge-to-Edge printing 
  • Capable of printing large quantities of cards in a short amount of time. 
  • 300 dpi resolution 
  • DTC printers are generally less expensive than retransfer printers.  
  • Consumables costs also tend to be lower as no additional film is required when printing directly to the card. 


  • Text and images are first printed onto a clear film. Through heat and pressure, the film is then “transferred” or fused to the surface of the card. 
  • Over-the-Edge printing 
  • 600 or greater dpi resolution 
  • Retransfer printers are generally more expensive than DTC printers. 
  • Additional consumables (retransfer film) are required which can increase overall cost-per-card. 

 You can find our complete range on our ID card printers page or, if you’d like more tips before purchasing a printer, we’ve got an ID expert to give you some more helpful pointers. 

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