Dartmouth Finds Foolproof Method for ID Card Printing with the ZXP Series 7

Posted May 1, 2015

Zebra ZXP Series 7 ID PrinterChallenge

Founded in 1769, Dartmouth is a member of the Ivy League and consistently ranks among the world’s greatest academic institutions. The school has approximately 4,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students.

At Dartmouth, the DA$H card is “the most important piece of plastic” students carry. With their student identification cards, they access dorms and special classrooms, buy meals, check out library books, wash laundry, print documents, attend athletic events, and even pay for items and activities such as ski passes, canoe rentals or ballroom dance lessons. All on-campus establishments accept the pre-loaded DA$H card.

“The only things a student needs to carry on campus are a cell phone and DA$H card. It’s accepted everywhere so there’s no need to carry any cash,” said Heidi Bellimer, Card Office Manager and a 28-year staffer at Dartmouth.

Faculty, staff and thousands of people who attend summer camps also receive Dartmouth identification cards. In total, the university’s Card Office prints more than 10,000 cards annually – up to 300 on the busiest days.

As the university’s previous card printers aged, Card Office staff members were frustrated by slow printing and the amount of time operators spent changing supplies or fixing jams. Additionally, the printers didn’t always encode cards correctly, requiring a second step to verify encoding – adding significant time to producing each card.

But it was difficult to find printers that would work with the university’s Lenel access control system, which houses student information and photos. The Lenel On-Guard access control system has a limited list of approved printer models for use with the production of ID cards.


The answer came from one of Dartmouth’s longtime business partners, Higgins, a Zebra reseller partner in nearby Braintree, Mass. The university’s representative from Higgins suggested the Card Office try the Zebra ZXP Series 7, a fast, easy-to-use card printer. Most importantly, Zebra offered the compatibility that Dartmouth needed.

“We were excited when we found out that Zebra ID card printers would work with our Lenel access control system,” Bellimer said.

Higgins assisted with ramping up the university on six new ZXP Series 7 printers, training, and handling maintenance as needed. “We have really relied on our partner, Higgins,” Bellimer said. “They’ve always provided excellent service and are proactive in recommending solutions.”

Dartmouth starts with pre-printed card stock with its logo and colors, and then prints the student’s information on the front of each card. While one card is being laminated, the next card is printing. The university also prints dual-sided cards for non-students, including gym passes or IDs allowing staff members’ spouses to access daycare areas. Only students enrolled for the term, or staff members, can enter most Dartmouth facilities.

Dartmouth’s DA$H card includes a barcode for checking out library books and recording employee time in the university’s Kronos timekeeping system. The DA$H card also works effectively with the CBORD system the university uses for keeping records of students’ DA$H card fund balances.


The Zebra printers improve printing speed and reliability for Dartmouth, which makes a real difference during times of mass production, such as fall registration and summer camps.

“With Zebra printers, printing is a piece of cake,” Bellimer said. “We’re able to produce massive amounts of IDs quickly and it works well with the Lenel system. Customers say, ‘That was quick.’”

The ZXP Series 7 printers also encode correctly, giving the Card Office confidence that it doesn’t need to separately test every card. High-capacity ribbons require less operator time to add supplies. And when it’s time to replace a ribbon, there’s no science to it. That gives the Card Office more time to focus on its other tasks, such as handling accounting for the $2 to $3 million worth of transactions that run on DA$H cards every month.

“The printers are foolproof to use,” Bellimer said. “They work hard all summer printing 300-400 badges at a time without jamming. They’re the most efficient printers I’ve ever used.”

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