You may not realize it but the same dye sublimation technology that is used to make photo panels, mugs, and mousepads is literally at work in your wallet. Dye-sublimation printers are used to produce most ID cards, including driver’s licenses, employee IDs , and membership cards. These printers use donor ribbons containing cyan, magenta, yellow and black patches to produce a full color image. A plastic laminate is then applied to protect the card. In this process, special UV dyes and custom laminates provide additional security. Most IDs have a glossy surface, which helps protect them from dirt and scratches.
Dye-sublimation is a flexible process. Transfer dyes to cloth and you have a t-shirt; tranfer them to a white mug and you have a custom coffee cup; transfer them to a blank piece of plastic and you can legally operate a motor vehicle. Dye-sublimation was the name originally given to this printing process, and it has stuck, even though nothing sublimes in dye-sublimation printing.
Here’s my suggestion – next time you renew your driver’s license, spend five minutes thinking about the technology that makes your license possible. Perhaps you can do this while waiting in line. After all, too often we take technology for granted.