There was a time when many employees, from mail clerks to CEOs, were ashamed or uncomfortable wearing their ID card or badge. There was a time when some employees had multiple badges or cards for different areas in a facility or for a variety of services on a campus.

How times have changed.

For reasons ranging from corporate espionage to international terrorism, organizations and their security operations have gotten tougher. Many more companies have mandated the display of cards and badges while on duty or in the facility. Cards with multi-technologies built in and the slow but sure growth of smart cards have emptied many employee purses and wallets, making it easy to use the same card for entering a secure area, buying lunch or exiting a parking garage.

Variety of Accessories

This one-two punch – higher security and multi-purpose cards – has increased the attraction to lanyards, clips, hooks, beaded neck chains, wrist bands, retractable reels and breakaways to better hold, display and use an access or identification card or badge. Companies including Comprehensive Identification Products of Burlington, Mass., Plasticlip of Milford, N.H., and J.A.M. Plastics of Anaheim, Calif., have catalogs full of card and badge accessories which vary from the common – a strap clip – to the customized – jacquard lanyards made with a tighter weaving process which produces crisper woven imprints.

Employees, security and organizations all share concerns when ID cards and badges must be worn. Metal clips can damage clothing by leaving rust stains and pinch marks, or by catching on or pulling threads. Wrist coils and neck chains or straps can be dangerous in certain situations because of the risk of entanglement. And metal clips and chains can sometimes interfere with sensitive computer, laboratory or other electronic equipment.

Sleeves that hold badges and ID cards can come in colors to distinguish areas of a facility, for example, where one cardholder is permitted but not another. Where appropriate, which is usually dictated by safety, employees can use retractables, arm band holders and wrist coil card holders. The latter are perfect for people who use card readers frequently.

With the popularity of proximity ID cards, accessories companies have developed a line of holders for prox cards, although they faced some unique challenges. The cards are often thicker than other types of identification cards, causing conventional badge holders to split apart after a short time. Some prox cards may not operate effectively when they are very close to metal objects such as metal badge clips.

There is yet another way to go. Cards in a variety of colors from such sources as CPI Card Group of Littleton, Colo., can identify levels of access.

Sidebar: Designer Cards Are In

Making ID cards and badges look more attractive increases their use and display. Systems and printer manufacturers are adding features for improved four-color printing on synthetic substrates such as Teslin, PVC, P.E.T., Lexan and polycarbonate. Some security executives also outsource their badge printing; about 14 percent of buyers said they go outside for badge printing, according to the Security magazine 2004 industry forecast study. M.G.I. USA of Melbourne, Fla., for example, has targeted such trends by introducing a synthetic digital press for short-run and on-demand card printing.

Sidebar: Show It Off

There are a number of card and badge accessories so a person can wear his

or her ID badge safely and with confidence.

  • Badge and strap clips – most popular

  • Chains and straps – metal, plastic, beaded and breakable

  • Lanyards – with plastic and metal hooks and rings; plain, imprinted, woven, silk-screening, dye sublimation

  • Neck straps can breakaway for safety

  • Arm band and wrist coil card holders for “power” reader swipers

  • Heavier duty holders for fatter proximity cards

  • Special format holders to hang from a vehicle’s rear view mirror

Source: Plasticlip of Milford, N.H., and J.A.M. Plastics of Anaheim, Calif.

Clips, holders, lanyards and chains come in a variety of colors and designs to complement security procedures or a corporation’s aesthetics. There is also a clip attachment for those folks who still must carry two, three or four separate ID cards.

Good looks and convenience encourage people to wear their ID.