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Save Time, Money and Aggravation with HID® FARGO® Cleaning Kits!

When was the last time you cleaned your ID card printer? Did you know that overlooking this simple and low cost routine maintenance item could be costing your organization money, time and unnecessary aggravation?

Read on to learn more about why it is essential to routinely clean your ID card printer.

Why clean?

Whether you realize it or not, ID card printers are complex devices that operate under tight tolerances and require a clean environment to operate in. If there is any deviation from established tolerances, or cleanliness is not maintained, there is a good chance some type of issue is going to occur. Some issues might just be an annoyance, such as an image that is not as sharp and crisp as it could be. Other issues can be catastrophic, such as when debris gets inside of the printer and contacts the printhead – this situation could potentially damage a pixel on the printhead, resulting in a white line down the length of every card printed on that printer until the printhead is replaced – an expensive, and potentially time consuming, repair.

While some HID FARGO print ribbons come with cleaning rollers, these rollers are only intended to help remove debris from dirty cards and are not sufficient by themselves to keep your printer in good working order. For proper maintenance, cleaning your ID card printer with a HID FARGO Cleaning Kit is required. Good news: cleaning your printer requires minimal cost, time or effort on your part! It is normally as simple as running a few cleaning cards through the card path in the printer and using a “cleaning swab” to clean off the printhead and a few of the rollers in the printer.

A few benefits of routinely cleaning your ID card printer include:

  • Savings – a clean printer operates more efficiently and is less likely to require a major repair that will cost you money or produce defective cards that need to be reprinted. In fact, HID Global data shows that nearly 25% of the printers we receive for warranty related service can be linked to insufficient cleaning.
  • Reduced downtime – a clean printer is less likely to require time and money consuming repairs. When you are waiting for a technician to come and repair your printer, or sending off your printer for repair, you are not able to issue cards. Not only do you have the monetary cost of a repair to deal with, but you have the opportunity cost of not being able to issue cards while your printer is non-functional. More often than not, this opportunity cost greatly exceeds the monetary cost of the repair.
  • Improved image quality – as rollers inside of the printer get dirty, cards are more likely to “slip” while being moved inside of the printer. This can result in images that are not crisp or sharp looking. In addition, if dirt or dust is on the card during the printing process, it could leave an area that is void of image on the card, or worse, damage the printhead.
  • Less aggravation - poor quality prints and/or ribbon breaks can be frustrating. Adjusting printer settings to improve performance is an option, but this is not be a permanent solution if the root cause is a dirty printer.

How often?

How often you should clean your printer varies with the environment the printer is being used in. You may be able to get away with less cleaning when using high-quality cards, such as HID Global FARGO Ultracard or HID Global FARGO Ultracard Premium cards in an office environment.

While never recommended, if you do have to use your printer in a dirty or dusty environment, cleaning should be done with every ribbon change, or even more often. This preventative action will help keep the printer in good working order and help increase the life expectancy of the printer.

In general, a good guideline is to thoroughly clean your ID card printer every 1,000 printed cards. However, to keep things simple for operators to remember, using the rule of “clean the printer with every ribbon change” may be a more effective strategy.

As an example of what can happen to a printer when it is used in challenging conditions, look at these photos.

The printer in these photos has approximately 3,000 cards printed on it and should be “clean” on the inside. Instead, this printer contains more dirt than inside of most 100,000+ card printers we have seen.

The fine dust coating that can be seen in the photos is a potential source of damage to the internal printer components and a common contributor to cards having poor image quality. If a cleaning routine was being applied with every ribbon change to help keep the card path and printhead components of this printer clean, there is a good chance this printer would have made it much longer than 3,000 cards before being sent in to HID Global for an evaluation.


Using your printer in a clean environment and cleaning your printer regularly is a very important step in keeping your printer operating at its peak performance. Not only do you get the benefit of improved printer performance, but you get the benefit of less downtime and the savings from not having to reissue cards or perform major repairs as often. Cleaning is a simple process that takes only a little time to complete – make sure it is an integral component of your card issuance process to save your organization time and money – you’ll thank me later!

For additional information regarding cleaning kit benefits, contact your sales representative here.


See HID Global's line of FARGO ID card printers here.