Information on Lamination and Varnish Overlay Used on Zebra Card Printers

Article ID: 71940756

Issue / Question

- What is the purpose of the overlay?
- What is the purpose of the laminate?

Applicable To

All card printers
Ribbons with an Overlay panel
Laminate films

Resolution / Answer

Most of the ribbons used for card printers have a clear panel, called a varnish overlay. For example in a 5-panel YMCKO ribbon, the "O" would be the overlay (the transparent panel). In addition, some printer models come with a standard or optional laminator station where a laminate film is applied. The laminate film is separate from the ribbon and comes in its own cartridge.

NOTE: ZXP Series 8 printers use retransfer technology. Only lamination would apply in this case.

Both Varnish Overlay and Lamination patches act primarily to protect the dye-sublimation images (printing process) against fading caused by Ultraviolet light. Varnish overlay provides little protection against abrasion. Lamination patches provide significant protection against abrasion and are the preferred choice for applications where the card will be physically "swiped" for its barcode and/or subject to severe conditions/exposure.

The varnish overlay would be considered a "light" coat of protection while a laminate film would be a "thicker" coat of protection.

NOTE: When using laminates it is recommended to make use of ribbons without the "overlay" panel or to disable the overlay panel in the driver. Please refer to your printers User Guide for this procedure.

Although the application of an overlay and/or laminate can be disabled in the printer's driver, keep in mind the following:

  • Quality of the image on the card may diminish (fade) over time due to heat or other elements
  • The image printed may stick to the plastic of an ID holder
  • A varnish or laminate can be customized to add a hologram, which is a low cost security option


If you have questions about ribbons or laminate options for your printer, please contact your reseller or Zebra Customer Service.

+ Product Codes

  • Food Safe Card Solution
  • P100i
  • P110i
  • P110m
  • P110m
  • P120i
  • P330i Card Printer
  • P430i Card Printer
  • P630i Card Printer
  • P640i Card Printer
  • QuikCard ID Standard Solution Bundles
  • QuikCard Professional Solution Bundles
  • QuikCard Solutions Bundles
  • Value Class Card Printer
  • ZC Series
  • ZC100
  • ZC10L Card Printer
  • ZC150
  • ZC300-LA-APAC
  • ZC300-NA-EMEA
  • ZC350
  • ZXP Series 1 Standard Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 1 Standard Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 3 Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 3 Professional Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 3 with Security Enclosures
  • ZXP Series 3C Card Printers (China Only)
  • ZXP Series 7 Card Printer
  • ZXP Series 7 High Performance Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 7 Pro High Performance Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 7 with Laminator
  • ZXP Series 8 Card Printer
  • ZXP Series 8 High Security Retransfer Card Printer
  • ZXP Series 8 Secure Issuance Card Printer
  • ZXP Series 9 Card Printer