Mastering the challenge of open loop gift cards

How coding, personalization, four over one (4/1) color printing and labeling can be taken care of by a single line.

  • Key criteria are brilliant color printing, minimal setup times, and lowest available cost per card.
  • Reputable US producer of print-on-demand and open loop gift cards therefore decided in favor of CARDLINE VERSA Color.

Gift and customer cards are usually produced in high volume. This makes the application lucrative for both card manufacturers and personalization companies. However, there is a clear trend towards small runs. One reason for this is the increasing importance of indirect sales channels for gift cards via multi-channel distributors. On these channels, gift card providers are in fierce competition with each other on the displays of third-party sales outlets. With specially designed cards tailored to specific target groups or events, they try to differentiate themselves as best they can.

Another reason for small print runs is the declared aim of all parties involved to keep stock levels as low as possible. Especially open loop gift cards are currently in focus. These are basically flat financial cards – purchase transactions are generally processed by well-known payment scheme providers. Unlike closed loop gift cards that are specific to certain merchants, open loop cards can be used throughout the market, rather like conventional credit and debit cards. For this reason, merchants and payment scheme providers attach huge importance to prevent misuse. At the same time, it is very important for card-issuing brand owners that the image of their brands is convincingly reproduced.

What do you need to personalize, encode and print with brilliant colors, plus produce high quality cards with the utmost efficiency while satisfying multiple creativity requirements? And how can you still operate profitably when producing small order sizes? A leading US gift card producer has found all the answers to overcome these challenges in the Atlantic Zeiser CARDLINE VERSA Color. Atlantic Zeiser, the personalization specialist is recognized as the technology leader in this field. The US card producer had already been impressed with other Atlantic Zeiser personalization systems that they own. However, the need to produce 4 colors over 1 color with full personalization at speeds up to 5000 cards per hour made the decision to purchase the CARDLINE VERSA Color.

All-digital workflow

The CARDLINE VERSA Color is an all-in-one, integrated card factory with a footprint that is just a fraction of the size normally required to produce cards. Offset printing of sheets and other traditional steps in card production are no longer needed explains the card producer’s project leader. His company now performs every stage of personalizing and printing both sides of the cards with just the CARDLINE VERSA Color. In addition, the system offers users the lowest cost per card. This benefit is largely attributable to Atlantic Zeiser’s drop-on-demand (DoD) print technology, which uses less expensive consumables than conventional systems. An all-digital workflow is also more productive when multiple small orders are being processed. For the US card manufacturer, a typical production run now starts with white PVC cards bearing a “blank” magstripe. Magnetic encoding, printing on both sides of the card, labeling, and camera verification is then done in one pass through the CARDLINE VERSA Color. Real-time inline RIPing of the variable data is fully synchronized and uninterrupted throughout. This allows for quick set-ups and efficient changeovers even for short runs. Depending on the creative requirements, the CARDLINE VERSA Color can also apply full edge-to-edge or spot varnish providing a high gloss look to the card.

Broad scope for creativity

The CARDLINE VERSA Color is a completely module system so there are many configuration options to fit the most demanding production requirements. After the first few weeks of production, the card manufacturer is delighted with its acquisition. According to the project leader, “We now possess a fully integrated personalization system which enables us to produce cards with great flexibility and reliability, while offering our customers a broad array of high-quality, creative design options.”

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Ute Heiler