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Which Zebra Card Printer? ZXP 1 or ZXP 3?

Our friends at Zebra have done a great job of getting their card printer line up into shape. The project started with the hi-tech ZXP8 and now the product line up looks to be complete with the low end (or Standard as the Zebra peeps call it) ZXP1.

At the lower rung of the ZXP ladder, the ZXP1 has some company with an updated ZXP3. As you can see from the photo, the two card printers look remarkably similar. Under the smooth, industrial grey facade though, there are some differences between the two machines that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a printer. Here is the comparison chart showing details of the two printers – provided by Zebra:

Zebra Card Printer Specs ZXP 1 ZXP 3

Comparing ZXP Series 3 and ZXP Series 1 Printers

Zebra ZXP3 ZXP7

ZXP3 & Big Brother ZXP7

One of the key differences between the two printers is that while ZXP3 can be configured to print on both sides of the card, the ZXP1 is single sided only (although you can run the card through the printer twice if short runs of dual sided cards are needed). In general, if your cards need to be printed on both sides, the sensible choice is the ZXP3.

The other key feature where ZXP3 wins is when it comes to encoding the cards.

ZXP1 can be supplied with MagStripe encoding, while ZXP3 offers ISO 7816 smartcard encoding and MIFARE ISO 14443 as well. We are told that UHF RFID encoding is coming to ZXP3 as well, although there doesn’t seem to be a confirmed date as yet.

Printing on the two machines is exactly the same – you’ll get the exact same high quality print regardless of which you buy. The ZXP3 is designed to handle higher volumes, more prints per roll of ribbon and higher capacity card hoppers are included.


Both printers offer exceptionable value – ZXP1 starts at $1,595 (all prices here are list prices) compared to $1,995.00 for the ZXP3.

To add MagStripe encoding to either printer increases the price by $500 and if you want Ethernet connectivity it is an additional $300. Personally, in a time when a $99 printer from Staples comes with Ethernet, I’m always annoyed when having to pay extra for it on industrial printers. Every printer made should have Ethernet included in the base price!

Pricing for the dual sided ZXP3 starts at $2,895 (yes, you still have to pay more for network connectivity, if you need it!).

Which Should You Buy?

Here are some scenarios that should help with your card printer selection process:

If ...ZXP1ZXP3
You need to print just one sideYESYES
You need to print both sidesYES
Your organization has fewer than 500 employeesYESYES
Your organization has up to 3,000 employeesYES
You need to lock the printer for securityYES
You need to encode MagStripesYESYES
You need other encoding systemsYES
You need to connect to a networkYES - at extra costYES - at extra cost
Your cards need to be laminatedYou need a ZXP7!

Of course, there a lot of variables to take into account when choosing a card printing system. The way to move forward is to get one of our Photo ID experts on the case to make sure that you are taking everything into account.

Call us at 603-598-1553 to get started!

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