The Evolution Of Badging

Despite the introduction of new technologies and regular predictions of their demise, event badges and ID cards are as prominent today as ever. Here at IDentilam we have taken a quick look back at how badges have evolved since we have been providing badging systems and services over the past 30 years.

Badge Production

Back in the 80’s it was all about the laminating pouch, hence the ‘lam’ in IDentilam. A printed insert and passport style photo were placed into a clear laminating pouch and then passed through a heated encapsulation machine to create the fully formed badge – remember those days? For less secure or shorter term use, badge inserts were often used with a simple clear plastic wallet, much in the same way as they are today.

Then in 1992 this all changed as direct to plastic printers came onto the market and PVC credit card style badges were formed. These quickly became very popular for both corporate ID cards and event badges as they were sturdy, professional looking and much quicker and easier to produce – no more slaving away over a hot laminating machine.

However in more recent times for conference and exhibitions in particular, the peel & fold IDhesive badges have become very popular as they are quick and easy to produce and can be worn without the need for a wallet or holder. Just print your design, peel and fold like a butterfly badge and attach it to a lanyard, simple and robust.

That’s about the size of it.

The size of ID cards and event badges has followed a similar path to that of the mobile phone. For many years manufactures produced increasingly smaller handsets, think of the Motorola Razar and the Nokia N95, but in more recent times the trend has been bigger is better. Although back in the laminating days of the 80’s, larger size badges were often used, however with the introduction of direct to plastic printers, credit card size badges became de rigueur. Although this size of badge is still commonplace for corporate ID cards, we have noticed a distinct shift back to larger format badges for conferences and events, particularly with the introduction of our folding and IDhesive badges.

More than just a name badge – adding technology

Although barcodes were printed on some exhibition badges as early as the 1970’s, it was with the introduction of credit cards that adding technology to badges really started to take off. Magnetic stripes were widely used for data collection and controlling access to buildings or events, along with other technologies such as Weigand.

Nowadays RFID and NFC are the technologies of choice for many event organisers, not only for attendee tracking but increasingly also for things like lead capture, exchange of content and social media amplification.

Throughout all of this the barcode has remained ever present and is still usually the simplest and most cost effective way to record and track attendance, in either 1D or 2D format.

What next?

How will badges evolve in the future – who knows for sure? New technologies will come and go. Some of these will be added to badges, some will be used instead of badges. However it is as true today as it was back when we first started out in 1987, that a professionally designed and produced ID card or event badge is more often than not the most effective way to manage attendee access and at the same time assist with networking and promoting an event or company branding.

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