Good old plastic is being shaped into hot new products for technically oriented business solutions To young Benjamin Braddock in the 1967 movie The Graduate, the word "plastics" suggested a terribly depressing future. But today, that classic career advice could never serve to epitomize unimaginable drudgery. Plastics, it seems, offer a perfect complement to technology, with plastic products taking on exciting new shapes and designs to satisfy ever-evolving applications. Consider phone and gift cards. Mike Lettmann, sales associate for Xtreme Graphics/Travel Tags, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., sees no signs of these markets slowing down. "Because phone cards tend to be cheaper, many people
Replacing magnetic stripe cards with smart cards can improve efficiency and security. A long time ago, in a place far, far away— Europe—smart cards were invented to reduce the prodigious amount of theft and fraud involved in the telecommunications industry. In order to prohibit high-tech thieves from duplicating legitimate phone cards, a new card was developed using an embedded microchip to store data and cryptography to protect the integrity and privacy of card-related transactions. Today, there are billions of these cards—called smart cards—in use across Europe and Asia, yet there are only a few million in the United States. The reason, explained Roland
Smart cards start to experience growth in U.S. markets. Because of the many benefits they offer to many different markets, smart cards have enjoyed immense popularity worldwide—and are finally beginning to see some action in the United States. "Smart cards can store great amounts of information—information that can be both accessed and rewritten," noted Jerry Sumner, regional sales manager for Arthur Blank & Company in Boston. "There can be interaction between the system and the information on the chip at a much higher level than with a bar-coded or magnetic stripe card." Schlumberger's Simera Airflex smart card, used in mobile communications, is transferable
Plastic products can be a lucrative niche for those who know how to approach it. It's almost always more durable than paper, is usually nicer to look at and has a higher perceived value. The profit margins are generally higher and there are fewer of your competitors selling it than you may realize. The material is plastic—and while it's not always an easy sell, it can be well worth the time invested for distributors willing to learn the ropes. One of the keys to profiting from this material is knowing how the product will be used. Russ Herman, general manager, Allegheny Printed
New and old uses unite to expand the market for plastic cards. Plastic cards are breaking the mold. From artistic attributes—including oil-stamped logos and holograms—to out-of-the-ordinary shapes and multi-purpose designs, plastic cards are growing not only in diversity, but also in popularity. "People are adding a lot of things to cards," said Jim Brown, vice president of sales and marketing, Plastic Printing Innovations, San Diego. For example, instead of the typical four-color process, clients want silkscreen, pms color and foil stamps. "We've had a lot of interest lately in using card and key tag combinations in retail loyalty applications," noted Jerry Sumner, director
By Misty Byers Pair the right card to the right application to make the most of card sales knowing what card products are available is good strategy—knowing how to match the product to the application wins the game. The key, said Paul Edwards, president of FormStore, Fenton, Mo., is knowing what questions to ask to determine the right product. "Very few distributors know what those are, but those who do can eliminate most of their competition," he said. Chris Lafelice, an account representative at Shamrock Graphics, a Westlake, Ohio-based distributorship, agrees. She remembered a client who was looking for a plastic ID card. "That was all they wanted—plastic,"
Smart cards face a bright future in the U.S. market By Barbara A. Bucci Europeans love them. Asians are leading the market with increased usage. But current U.S. sales and implementation of smart cards and their required infrastructure continue to lag. However, according to data compiled in the report Global Smart Card Opportunities, 1997-2002, by Datamonitor, New York, the future of the U.S. smart card market looks bright. For example, the study states that although 3.85 billion smart cards will be issued globally by the year 2002, with Europe as the world's largest market, U.S. usage will grow the fastest worldwide--at a "yearly