How You Make a Credit Card

By: Asif Amod

A credit card is produced using a few plastic layers laminated together. The middle is usually made from a plastic resin known as polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA). This resin is then mixed with other materials to give it the appropriate look and feel.

The inks and dyes used in the printing of credit cards are especially made for use on plastic. Special magnetic ink is also available to print the magnetic stripe (magstripe) on the rear side of the card.

The production of the credit card takes place in the following steps:

1. Plastic compounding and molding: The plastic for the core sheet is made by melting PVCA with other materials. This molten mixture is put into the molding equipment, and is flattened by passing it through rollers.

2. Printing: Each card sheet is then printed with text as well as graphics. Silk screening and magnetic ink printing are the processes used. The magnetic strip can also be created using hot stamping. Magnetic heads are used to code and decode the iron particles in the strip, so that relevant information can be stored in them. However, the magnetic particles can only be useful if they are on the surface of the card, therefore this step is performed after the lamination.

3. Lamination: Essentially, lamination protects the card, and improves its strength. Lamination is done on both sides of the card.

4. Cutting and Embossing: After lamination, each sheet is cut into a set of cards. Each sheet produces 63 cards. The sheet is first cut into seven sections lengthways, and then each of the seven pices is cut into nine cards. Each card is now a separate credit card. The cards are now ready for shipment to the cardholders! Each card has to be of the premium quality. Customers cannot be given cards which will break or be damaged after a certain period of time. The final quality check is to make sure the right numbers are stamped on the cards through the embossing process.

The many evolving technologies in this area will help create the credit cards with better quality and make them more cost effective in terms of manufacturing. New generations of credit cards might carry integrated computer chips, containing a variety of valuable information, making the card more useful, as well as secure.

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