When Outsourcing

  1. Find a service with large format card printers
  2. Printing
    1. With photos/personalization: Use preregistration. You can use a service like InstantCard’s individual card ordering service to have people upload their photos and information before the event. You can have badges shipped to your event or directly to the attendee.
    2. Without Photos/personalization: Simply give the number of cards needed to your preferred printing service. If each pass needs a separate QR code, barcode, or serial number, find a service (such as instantcard.net) that can automate this.

When printing on-site

  1. Purchase 10-20 large format card printers
  2. Make sure you have at least 1.3 times the card stock than your event’s capacity. Extra stock is needed for potential misprints, melted cards, etc.
  3. Printing
    1. With photos/personalization: Preprint the card background so that you only need to print the personalized elements on the day of the event, saving time on the day of the event.
    2. Without Photos/personalization: Preprint 50% of expected attendance before the event, so that there is a good stock of preprinted passes. If barcodes, QR codes, or serial numbers are needed, you may need to print these elements on the day of the event.

Since event badges are generally large format cards, they cannot normally be printed on a standard laser printer.  Most professional events use plastic event badges, which must be printed on highly specialized printers.  These badges are rigid enough to be clipped to a lanyard so they can be worn around the neck, displaying to everyone the name and rights of the bearer.  One or more of these specialized printers can be transported to the event site, and set up to print access badges as attendees arrive and register at the event. 

The problem with this approach is that most attendees arrive in the short period of a few hours prior to the start of the event.  Depending on the size of the event and the number of attendees, lines can get very long, and attendees can get very impatient while they wait for their badge to be printed.  The solution for larger events is often to have 10 or 20 or more printers, just to handle the large influx during that critical period of time. 

Another alternative being used more and more is to pre-print the badges in advance, which allows a very quick process of just handing over the correct badge to a person when he/she arrives.  This of course assumes pre-registration for the event, but this is the norm now for nearly all important events.  When a person pre-registers weeks or months in advance of the event, their badge can be printed with no rush.   

Event badge printing in advance can be done by the event organizer.  But since this is generally not their core business, they more generally address themselves to a specialized badge printer such as InstantCard (see https://instantcard.net/large-format-card-printing/). For a very low cost, such a specialized company provides a quick turn-around service to produce professional badges in advance of the event, and to ensure that all attendee badges are ready the moment they first arrive at the event.