Styrene: Styrene is a lower cost alternative to PVC and is the most popular plastic card material produced at Us1. The card fronts are usually printed full - color with UV ( ultraviolet ) inks and coated with a clear UV varnish. Styrene cards are ideal for applications not requiring long wallet life such as prepaid phone cards. Styrene cards are available in credit card size (2 1/8” X 3 1/8”) as well as custom shapes including “hanging cards”. The following stocks are available: 10 mil, 15 mil, 20 mil and 30 mil.
The most popular thickness for credit card sized cards is 20 mil since it has enough rigidity to have perceived value but takes up less space in over-crowded wallets, has less material cost than 30 mil, weighs less and packs out in less volume. Personalization (numbering), if required, is by high-speed Ink Jet.
PVC: PVC ( polyvinyl chloride ) is a little more expensive than Styrene, but is more flexible and hence durable. It has the same look and feel as Styrene, and it is difficult to detect any difference between the two materials. It is recommended over Styrene for applications requiring thermal personalization. Thermal printing produces a higher resolution image than Ink Jet and is required for some bar codes. The following stocks are available: 10 mil, 15 mil, 20 mil and 30 mil.
Laminated PVC: Laminated PVC is the most widely used material for plastic cards since it is the standard for financial transaction cards such as credit cards and ATM cards. It is the most durable but also the most expensive. It can be thermal printed over printed images and can be Embossed. Most financial transaction cards such as credit cards and ATM cards require long wallet life and hence are over-laminated PVC. Most magnetic stripe cards and smart cards are laminated PVC. The standard credit card is 30 mil but 12 mil, 18 mil and 24 mil are also available.
Paper: Paper is the least expensive material used for cards since paper is less expensive than plastic and does not require UV cured inks. It is the recommended material for applications where durability is not an issue. Us1 produces a good number of paper “hanging cards” and credit card sized cards for retail prepaid phone card applications where the cards will be used only a few phone calls before the time is used.