The Art of Printing: Over-The-Edge vs. Edge-to-Edge

The Art of Printing: Over-The-Edge vs. Edge-to-Edge


In today's world, printing technology has come a long way, providing us with various options to bring our creative visions to life. When it comes to printing ID cards, two popular methods have emerged - Over-The-Edge printing (from retransfer printers) and Edge-to-Edge printing (from direct-to-card printers). Each has its unique advantages, catering to different needs and budgets. In this blog, we will delve into these printing techniques and help you decide which one suits your requirements best.

Over-The-Edge Printing: Perfection Without Borders

Over-The-Edge printing, also known as retransfer printing, is the epitome of perfection. This method ensures that there are no visible borders around the edges of your ID card, resulting in a stunning, professional-looking finished product. Unlike traditional methods that may leave white margins or uneven edges, over-the-edge printing guarantees a seamless and flawless outcome.

Advantages of Over-The-Edge Printing:

  • High-Quality Aesthetics: Over-the-edge printing allows your design to extend right to the edges, maximising the use of space and creating a visually appealing ID card that stands out.
  • Professional Appeal: Whether it's for employee ID cards, membership cards, or event badges, the clean and borderless finish of over-the-edge printing adds a touch of profes­si­onalism.
  • Durability: Retransfer printing ensures that the ink is infused into the card's surface, making it more resistant to wear and tear, and less susceptible to fading or scratching.
  • Vivid Colours: This method enables the use of rich, vibrant colours, giving your ID cards a lifelike appearance.

Disadvantages of Over-The-Edge Printing:

  • Cost: The main downside of over-the-edge printing is its higher cost compared to other printing methods. The technology involved and the premium results justify the price, but it might not be the best choice for those on a tight budget.

Our top pick:

Magicard Ultima Retransfer ID Card Printer (from £2270.00)

IDP Smart 21

The Magicard Ultima Retransfer ID Card Printer is an excellent choice for over the edge printing, or if you require secure smart cards. Comes in both single sided and dual sided. Learn more from an approved Magicard Momentum here.

Specifications at a glance

  • Print type - dye-sublimation retransfer
  • Print area - over-the-edge
  • Resolution - 300dpi
  • Card feeding - Gravity with auto card thickness adjustment
  • Print speed - 180 cards per hour (monochrome) / 100 cards per hour (colour)
  • Security -  up to 10 secure HoloKote® watermarks
  • Warranty - 3 years

Edge-to-Edge Printing: Striking a Balance Between Cost and Quality

Edge-to-Edge printing is a more budget-friendly option that offers a compromise between a seamless design and affordability. In this method, a thin border is left around the edges of the printed ID card, allowing the background colour of the card to show through.

Advantages of Edge-to-Edge Printing:

  • Cost-Effective: For organisations or businesses looking to save on printing expenses without compromising too much on quality, edge-to-edge printing is an excellent solution.
  • Consistent Results: Unlike some edgeless printing methods that might encounter technical challenges, edge-to-edge printing is more reliable and easier to implement.

Disadvantages of Edge-to-Edge Printing:

  • Limited Design Space: The thin border might limit the use of some design elements that could otherwise extend to the card's edge.
  • Less Professional Look: While edge-to-edge printing produces great-looking ID cards, it might not match the premium appeal of over-the-edge printing.

Our top pick:

IDP Smart 21 DTC ID Card Printer (£525.00)

IDP Smart 21

The IDP Smart 21 Single sided direct-to-card ID Printer is an affordable and reliable ID card printer. This printer leaves a small white border around the card as it's a direct-to-card printer, however, it's a far more afordable option if you don't require printing on access control cards. It offers fast printing speeds and high-quality output. Learn more from an approved Magicard Momentum here.

Specifications at a glance

  • Print type - Dye sublimation
  • Resolution - 300dpi (colour & mono), 600 & 1200 dpi (mono only) / Edge to Edge
  • Card feeding - Manual / hand fed
  • Print speed - 6 seconds per card (monochrome) / Max 24 seconds per card (YMCKO)
  • Communication - USB
  • Anti theft - Kensington Lock
  • Magnetic encoding - ISO 7811 (Track I, II, III Read/ Write, HiCo/ LoCo) JIS II

Choosing the Right Method

The decision between over-the-edge printing and edge-to-edge printing ultimately depends on your priorities, budget, and intended use of the ID cards. If you seek the highest quality, profes­si­onalism, and are willing to invest a bit more, over-the-edge printing is the way to go. On the other hand, if cost-effectiveness and a balanced appearance are your primary concerns, edge-to-edge printing should be your choice.


As printing technology continues to evolve, who knows what the future holds for these methods? But for now, the choice is yours to make, and you can rest assured that either option will elevate the appeal and functionality of your printed ID cards.

Whether you opt for the flawless and premium finish of over-the-edge printing or the budget-friendly elegance of edge-to-edge printing, your ID cards will make a lasting impression and serve their purpose effectively.

Posted in Help and advice and tagged edge-to-edge, over-the-edge on