Plastic cards these days are themes of the day when it comes to presentable, smart cards for various usages from social greetings to business relation to replace paper money use to identification marking for security etc. Plastic cards fast took the place of paper cards for its style statement and more essentially longevity. The longer life of the plastic cards also made it multi purpose on one hand and reusable on the other hand. Plastic cards these days are made out of bio degradable materials these days, such as PVC. They last between nine months and five years. Besides being recyclable, the cards are also given standard limited shelf life.
The manufacturing of the cards has got a particular procedure. The plastic cards are made of several layers of plastic sheets melted and laminated together. Polyvinyl Chloride Acetate (PVCA), the clear plastic resin, commonly forms the core base of the card. This resin is then mixed with other raw materials like opacifying materials, dyes, and plasticizers to give it the proper appearance and consistency. The blended components are transferred to the extrusion molding apparatus, which forces the molten plastic through a small flat orifice known as a die. As the sheet exits the die, it goes through a series of three rollers stacked on top of each other that pulls the sheet along. These rollers keep the sheet flat and maintain the shape and right thickness. This core material, then, is laminated with thin layers of the PVCA or clear plastic materials. These laminated material get adhere to the core when applied with pressure and heat. The laminate films used to coat the core stock are made by a similar extrusion process. These thinner films may be made with a slot cast die process in which a molten plastic film is spread on a casting roller.
Various kinds and qualities of inks and dyes, available in varieties of colours are used for printing as well as for mixing with the plastic subtrates to give the base colouring to the cards. Often special magnetic inks are used to print magnetic stripes on some cards used for special purposes like credit cards and security gate pass cards. The inks are made by dispersing metal oxide particles in the appropriate solvents. Additional special printing processes are involved for cards, like VISA, which feature holograms.
Lamination, the next step, helps protect the finish of the card and increases its strength. This lamination process takes around three minutes for its process to get completed. After lamination has been completed, the finished assembly is cut and completed by die cutting methods.
Key quality factors are to be maintained in association with the compounding of plastic and matching of colours of inks. As with any compounding procedure, ingredients must be properly weighed and mixed and blended under the appropriate temperature and sheer conditions. Similarly, the molding process must be monitored to avoid defects, which could cause the cards to crack or break. The final quality check is to make sure the correct numbers are stamped on the cards during the embossing process.