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Card body materials

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  • 1. Card Body Materials Don’t break your customers’ trust© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 1 of 9
  • 2. In today’s card applications PVC is still the most used card body material. AlthoughPVC has numerous disadvantages, the most important factor to use it is price. PVCsimply is still the most cost effective way to produce a card.With the current market trend to combine cards with chip technology or importantcard holder privileges the actual value of the card is no longer limited to the price ofthe card body material. For example the cost of a chip or simply the cost of issuing aphoto-ID card surpasses the card body cost significantly.In recent years a wide variety of polymer materials have been developed toovercome the many issues of PVC card bodies within specific application fields.In this whitepaper we would like to point out the pro’s and con’s of the differentmaterials and material combinations to allow our customers to pick the right card forthe job.Please bear in mind that this brochure ONLY focuses onto the card body material.When looking at the life expectancy of the finished card, also personalisation andprinting have an influence in the matter. Our specialists will gladly advice you aboutall the aspects of card durability.Physiological aspects of the Card Body  Optical quality ( whiteness ) In card manufacturing, white is not always white. In the production of white polymers, several additives are introduced in the molten material. One of the additives is TIO2 ( Titanium Dioxide ), which is used to regulate the opacity. The amount of TIO2 directly effects the colour of the polymer. Some white cards are oriented toward blue-white, some are oriented toward red-white. Furthermore, the glues used to form a coherent binding between the different layers oxidise during lamination creating a yellowish effect. Since most inks are transparent, the background influences how our eyes perceive the colour of the printing. The choice of card material can have a noticeable effect on colour consistency.  Surface finish There are two properties related to the surface finish that influence the overall look and feel of the card; surface smoothness and surface porosity. The porosity of a certain polymer is related to the specific formulation the polymer manufacturer uses in his manufacturing process. Surface smoothness is almost completely related to the quality and finish of the lamination plates used in the manufacturing process. High quality lamination plates are precision manufactured, and thus expensive. Card manufacturers using high quality plates will have to charge more per card then manufacturers using sub-standard quality plates. The surface finish not only has an effect on the overall look and feel of the card, it also determines which type of personalization technology can be used.© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 2 of 9
  • 3.  Scratch resistance Often the card is also used as a marketing tool. Whether the card is uses in a loyalty application or as a corporate ID card, the card will act as a representation of your companies’ quality. Depending upon the choice of outer laminate material, the card surface will be sensitive to scratches. Also the graphical card design will influence the way surface scratches will affect the overall looks of your card. For example, a card with a dark design will look classy but scratches will be extremely visible.  Rigidity Every material combination has its typical rigidity or stiffness. A stiffer card creates the feeling of higher quality. Besides this subjective aspect, also a practical aspect needs to be taken into account; When personalizing a card, it is exposed to heat and pressure from a thermal printhead, or deformation forces from embossed characters. Depending on the material choice the card will be bent after personalisation.  Bend and twist resistance Resistance to bending and twisting is controlled with a specially developed system in the card production facility. ISO standards determine the minimum cycles a card has to tolerate before it breaks or cracks. This material property is an important value to be considered when evaluating card life expectancy.  UV resistance ( yellowing ) Depending on the application, this might be an important aspect in the choice of the card body composition. If the card is only exposed to daylight sporadically, you don’t need to be worried about yellowing. When on the other hand the will be worn in the sun for a big part of its life, choosing a UV resistant card body is of the utmost importance. When polymer films are manufactured, a multiplicity of additives are mixed with the molten base material to end up with a product that fulfils the needs of its application. Amongst other things these additives contain UV absorbers and inhibitors and fillers ( eg. Calcium carbonate ). Formulating a PVC material with low levels of UV absorbers and inhibitors and high amounts of filler will create a cheap material with low quality. Even when using the same polymer basis noticeable quality differences will arise depending on the material used by the card manufacturer. This partially explains why Chinese PVC cards are so cheap...  Bonding strength ( delamination ) ISO cards are made up out of multiple layers. Since printing inks are not able to fuse together with the card body materials, the layers are adhered to each other using a heat activated glue coating. The quality of ink and coating determine the strength of the adhesion of the different layers. ISO standards determine a minimal lamination strength of 3Nm/mm. In practice this value is rather low and high end card manufacturers will strive to a much higher level of bonding strength. Using alternative card materials and coating formulations adds to the lamination quality.© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 3 of 9
  • 4.  Resistance to chemicals During its lifecycle the card body is exposed to a variety of chemical influences. One of the solutions a card is exposed to most frequent is saline solutions ( eg. Sweat ). Also detergents are a common source of problems. All these external influences have an adverse effect on the card life expectancy. Choosing the correct card base material based upon the application has became a necessity. The application can be extreme, for example in many underdeveloped countries cards are stored in the cardholders’ shoes, but on the other hand a member card of the gym also has an elevated exposure to saline.  Thermal stability Last but not least, the resistance to high or low temperatures has to be taken into consideration. Leaving a parking card behind the windshield of a card in the summertime is in many cases a mistake that ruins the card. On the other hand, some materials get brittle and break at temperatures slightly below freezing.Other aspects  Cost The price of a card is in many cases the most important factor to decide between different suppliers or materials. Regrettably one often forgets that the largest cost within a card project is not the card itself. The cost of issuing the card, personalizing the card, collecting and processing transaction data and reissuing the card after failure is often much higher than the price of the card body. There is also the psychological value of a card. This can be looked at from a marketing point of view; when your company stands for a quality product or service, you don’t want your card failing since that directly effects the way the cardholder thinks about your organisation. A card failing can, on the other hand, also have serious© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 4 of 9
  • 5. consequences onto the security measures within the organisation.  Ecological impact Although there are recycling procedures in place for certain polymers, cards are rarely entered into them. One kilogram of PVC has a carbon footprint of approximately 4.1 kilograms of CO2. Since the average card weighs 5.07 grams, the CO2 footprint of a card is 21 grams, including the energy and water consumed in production. In today’s marketplace, biocards are gaining popularity. We offer our customers a broad range of ecological alternatives to the standard PVC cardbody materials.Material ComparisonNext to the traditional card materials like PVC, PETG and Polycarbonate, Syx-Graphics is cooperatingwith renowned material engineering specialists. The research done in this field has resulted in thedevelopment of our polyXTREME cardbody, with the characteristics described further in thisdocument.Material Characteristics Main Advantage Main DisadvantagePVC  amorphous, low Vicat  easy to use  weak properties determining life& blends  laser-engraving possible  cost-effective timePETG  amorphous  ecological  weak properties polyester,low Vicat determining life timePC  amorphous, high Vicat  higher  expensive durability + (materials and  high quality laser- laser processing) engraving engraving  specified for Gov’t usePET  semi-crystalline, high  toughness  additional layers Vicat req’d for lamination© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 5 of 9
  • 6. Evidence based testingWhen designing your card solution, it is imperative to choose the card body material that yourproject requires. The only way of making a valid choice between all materials offered is to rely ondocumented test results, rather than just accepting manufacturers’ statements. The test resultsmade available in this whitepaper are all based upon lifetime tests according to ISO24789-1/-2, andwhere performed by a certified lab.These tests, designed to indicate life expectancy of cards, include; – Xenon cycle test: 24-40h Xe, 5000x bending, … – Plasticized vinyl storage: 48h, 50 ± 3°C – Thermal and humidity aging: 50 ± 3°C 93%RH, 48h, bending 5000x – Thermal shock: -35 to 50°C – Paint shaker – Thermal and humidity cycling – Card flexureXenon Cycle TestXenon cycles: 24-40h Xe, (550W/m2, 290-800nm, 50±5°C), 5000x bending, …Follow-up colour differences (yellowness)© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 6 of 9
  • 7. Plasticized Vinyl StoragePlasticized vinyl storage: 48h, 50±3°C weigth of 5kg lamination plate 7sheets PVC of 70µm (6751521) 2 cards next to eachother 7sheets PVC of 70µm (6751521) 2 cards next to eachother 7sheets PVC of 70µm (6751521) 2 cards next to eachother lamination plateThermal and Humidity Aging1 Cycle for every card:Time (hours) Temperature C RH(%) 80 480 50 80 1,00 -35 60 6 60 90 168 50 80 40 Temperature (C) 20 0 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 -20 -40 Time (hours)Follow-up: Bending over width (check after 100, 250, 500 and 1000x, after 500x cards were turned)Every material check after 1 cycle (= equal to 1 year).Card is successful if no visual failure after 1000x bending.© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 7 of 9
  • 8. Card FlexureCard flexure: 1Hz, over width and over length, stop after 100.000x,failure if break, >13mm crack or sum of <5 cracks >13 mm.© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 8 of 9
  • 9. ConclusionConsidering the empirical data provided in the above, we can plot the life expectancy of a certaintype of card body composition in the following graph; 12 10 8 polyXTREME PC 6 PET-G ABS 4 PVC 2 0 Card Body MaterialCopyright noticeThis document and its content is copyright of Ivan Dierckx - 2011. All rights reserved.Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other thanthe following:  you may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non- commercial use only  you may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge the website as the source of the materialYou may not, except with my express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit thecontent. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any website or other form of electronic retrievalsystem.Ivan.dierckx@telenet.be© 2011 Ivan Dierckx Confidential Page 9 of 9