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Plastic Card Glossary


Access Control Card - Plastic card used to gain access to premises, usually associated with magnetic stripe and proximity cards.


Bar Code - An array of machine-readable rectangular bars and spaces arranged in a specific way defined in international standards to represent letters, numbers, and other human-readable symbols.

Bar Code Reader or Scanner - The device used to read the barcode.

Blank Cards - Cards with no printing usually used in imagining machines

Bleeds - Artwork that extends beyond the actual size of the card.


Camera Ready Art - Printable film or the electronic equivalent to facilitate printing.

Code 128 - Variable number of characters, including numbers, letters, and symbols. Inventory control code.

Code 39 - Used for parts identification and job tracking, including numbers and letters.

Combo Card - One or two key tags attached to a CR80 card.

Corsivity - A measure of the strength of a magnetic field. Fields are expressed as low or high by the terms LoCo and HiCo.

CR80 Card - Standard credit card size (3 3/8" x 2 1/8" x .030).


Digital Imaging - Scanning or otherwise capturing images which may be subsequently edited, filed, displayed or printed on a plastic card.

Digitizing - Conversion of non-textual data to digital form.

Dye Sublimation - An imaging method for transferring controlled quantities of printer ribbon dye onto a plastic card.


Electronic Art - Graphics in a digital format to work with computer design and imaging applications.

Electronic Incentives or Promotions - Cards with cash value can be provided to consumers or employees as a reward or value-added benefit. In addition, cards are effective cross-promotional tools between interrelated businesses.

Embossing - Raised letters or numbers usually tipped in either black or gold foil.

Encode Head - A device used to encode data (write) onto the magnetic stripe.

Encoding - The process of electronically "writing" information on magnetic stripes or smart card chips.

End Sentinel - A designated character in an encoding character set which is used to identify the end of a data field, and cannot be used for data.


Field Separator - A designated character in an encoding character set which is used to separate data fields, and cannot be used for data.

Foil Stamping - Hot stamp printing is achieved by using pressure and heat to affix colored foil in to the plastic surface.

Font - A character set (alphabet and numerals) of a specified design and size.

Four Color Process - Printing in full color using four color separation negatives - yellow, magenta, cyan and black. When blended, these four colors reproduce only a small portion of all the colors found in nature, but they can reproduce the widest range with the fewest inks when printing.

Fulfillment - The process by which the card is matched to a letter, inserted into an envelope, metered and delivered to the post office. Personalization is available using several different methods along with continuous form equipment or individual piecework.


Gift Card - Standard or custom size CR80 card. Stored value is placed on the card through magnetic striping or bar coding.


Half Tones - Dot system of color photo's to black and white.

High Corsivity - Usually refers to 2750 or 4000 forested magnetic stripe. 2750 is the recognized ISO standard for transaction cards. 4000 is used primarily in custom narrow stripe read write applications.

Hologram - A unique photographic printing that provides a three-dimensional effect on a flat surface. Holograms cannot be easily copied and are used for security and aesthetic purposes on cards.

Human Readable - Numbers and or letters imaged below or above the barcode that represent the data encoded in the bar code.


I.D. Card - Card which identifies both the bearer and the issuer. All financial transaction cards are I.D. cards.

Issuer - An individual or organization that issues identification cards to individual or corporate cardholders.


Key Card - Plastic card used to gain access to premises, usually associated with magnetic stripe and proximity cards.


Lamination - The process of combining lamination material and core material using time, heat and pressure.

Lithography or Offset Printing - Most common process for plastic card printing based on the concept that oil and water are not compatible. The ink represents the oil and the alkaline fountain solution represents the water. These are the two main components which must interact during the printing process, allowing the ink to adhere to the image area of a printing plate while the fountain solution repels the ink from the non-image area.

Loyalty Card - Standard (CR80) or custom size card that have off line accounting for capabilities such as mileage or merchandise purchases.

Low Corsivity - Usually refers to 300 oersted magnetic stripe.


Machine-Readable - A code or characters that can be read by machines.

Magnetic Stripe - Magnetic material, applied as a strip in the surface of a card, used to encode cardholder information.

Magnetic Stripe Reader - The electromechanical device used to extract data from a previously encoded magnetic stripe.

Membership Card - Usually a club member card for ID purpose.


Orested (OE) - The unit of measure for corsivity. The values 300OE, 2750OE, etc. refer to the magnetic energy to erase the stripe.

Overlay Varnish - A thin transparent layer applied to cards to resist scratching and fading from exposure to UV radiation.


Personalization - Printing encoding and programming a card with data specific to an individual cardholder.

Phone Card - A stored value card that allow the user to access pre-paid long distance. The long distance is generally accessed via a PIN number (stored value), which is usually covered by a scratch-off panel for security.

PIN # - Personal Identification Number.

PMS - Pantone Matching System used by printers for color standardization.

POS - Point of Sale. The term also refers to two types of terminals used in retail stores: (a) A terminal with magnetic stripe reader, keyboard, display and auto dialer modem, connected to the telephone network and used for on-line credit/debit authorization; (b) A more complex terminal including the above features less modem, connected to a host computer, which handles all transaction processing including item price look-up, data collection, and credit/debit authorization.

Prepaid Card - A card paid for at Point of Sale, permitting the holder to buy goods or services up to the prepaid value.

PVC - Polyvinyl Chloride. The primary material used for typical plastic cards.


Read Head - A device used to read data encoded on the magnetic stripe.

Resolution - Dimension of the smallest element of an image that can be printed. Usually stated as dots-per-inch (dpi).


Scratch off panels and labels - Applying a destructible top coating covering printed data to conceal from public viewing (similar to a lottery ticket).

Screen Printing - Method in which ink is forced through a design-bearing screen made of silk or other material onto the substrate being printed.

Screen Tints - Determined by percentage of colors.

Signature Panel - The area of an I.D. card where the cardholder enters a signature.

Start Sentinel - A designated character in an encoding character set which is used to identify the start of a data field, and cannot be used for data.

Swipe Reader - A manually operated reader with a long narrow channel (slot) through which the magnetic stripe edge of the card is pushed.


Thermal Printing - The process of creating an image on a plastic card using a heated print head.

Track - A strip of specified width and location running the length of the magnetic stripe on which data is encoded. ANSI/ISO standards define three track locations for the magnetic stripe on credit/financial cards, called Track 1, 2 and 3; the tracks are 0.110" wide, with Track 1 closest to the card edge.


YMC - Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan are the primary print colors for cards. The three colors are combined in varying degrees to make a full spectrum of colors. YMCKO is the same as YMC plus Black (K) and clear protective overcoat (O).

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