Styrene is a lower cost alternative to PVC card and the most popular plastic pvc card material produced at printingestore. Styrene cards are ideally 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"). The most popular thickness 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. PVC card personalization (numbering), if required, is by high-speed ink jet.
PETF Card /PETG Card /PE Card
: ( polyvinyl chloride ) Is a little more expensive than Styrene, but is more flexible and durable. Pvc card has the same look and feel as Styrene and it is difficult to detect any difference between the two. PVC card is recommended for applications requiring thermal personalization. Thermal printing produces a higher resolution image than ink jet and is required for some barcodes.
Laminated PVC: Is the most widely used material for plastic PVC cards since it is the standard for financial transaction cards such as credit 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 and ATM cards require long wallet life and hence are over-laminated PVC. Most magnetic stripe cards and smart cards are laminated PVC card.
Although there is considerable similarity of these names PETF, PETG and PET, there is a world of difference among these three materials.
Plain polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polyester is most commonly associated with a material from which cloth and high-performance clothing are produced (e.g., DuPont Dacron¨ polyester fiber). Increasingly over the last ten years, PET has gained acceptance as a material of choice for beverage bottles. Because of the improved performance and functionality of PET, it has managed to replace:traditional bottle materials such as glass and aluminum, as well as,newer materials (e.g., PVC and polycarbonate) that had been thought to have the potential to replace glass/aluminum, but proved not to be as efficient or effective as PET.
PETG, also known as glycolised polyester, is used in the production of cards. The "G" represents glycol modifiers, which are incorporated to minimize brittleness and premature aging that occur if unmodified amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (APET) is used in the production of cards.
PETG films are amorphous, meaning the polymer molecules are not aligned or ordered within the material. It is produced in a roll calendering process similar to that used to make standard PVC. As a result, PETG has many features similar to PVC with similar temperature resistance and durability.
In Europe, PETG has found a market where customers are looking to produce "environmentally" friendly cards. In addition to its use in cards, this polymer is used in applications where thermoformability is required.
Polyester film (PETF) is very different from PETG and indeed PET. Polyester film is a semi-crystalline film produced by a roll quenching process followed by biaxial orientation (stretching the film in machine and transverse directions) and heat setting at temperatures around 230C. Polyester film is used in many applications such as videotape, high quality packaging, professional photographic printing, X-ray film, floppy disks, etc. The film's primary advantages are high thermal stability, mechanical strength and chemical inertness. In fact, PETF has one-third the tensile strength of steel and can withstand temperatures of up to 200C. PETF is produced in a range of thicknesses from 3 gauge (0.6 µm) to 2000 gauge (500 µm).