What is a Plastic Card

By | February 1, 2017

A Plastic Card is a rectangular-shaped piece of plastic with rounded corners measuring 85,60mm by 53,98mm (3.375″ by 2.125″). The physical characteristics of a Plastic Cards are standardized and defined by the ISO/IEC 7810:2003 specifications.

A standard Plastic Card have rounded corners with a radius of 2.88–3.48 mm and a thickness of 0,76mm (0.030 in). Plastic cards fully compliant with the ISO/IEC specifications are often called “ID-1 Cards” or “CR80 Cards”.

Illustration of ISO/IEC 7810 sizes

The body of a Plastic Card is usually a multi-layer of individual plastic foils that are fused together by means of pressure and temperature. Standard Plastic Cards are made of 3 to 5 layers while more complex cards, such as ID Cards with advanced security features can have up to 10/12 layers.


PVC Plastic Cards

A stack of white PVC Cards

Some of the most common materials used for the production of Plastic Cards includes:

A transparent Visa card

A transparent Visa card

Plastic Cards are commonly used for literally hundreds different applications and most of them fall within this main categories:

  • Financial Cards (Debit cards, Credit Cards, ATM Cards, Cash Cards, etc.)
  • Identification Cards (National ID Cards, Citizen Health ID Cards, Employee ID Cards)
  • Driving License Cards
  • Transit Payment Cards
  • GSM SIM Cards
  • Payphone Cards
  • Voucher Cards
  • Access Control Cards
  • Loyalty & Membership Cards
  • Business Cards
  • Tachograph Cards
  • PKI Cards

Some applications requires a smaller form factor than the standard ID-1 that is achieved by punching (pre-cut) the cards with a custom made hollow punch. For instance, the common GSM Sim Cards are produced pre-cutting a ID-1 card.

A plastic card with its pre-cut GSM Sim Card.

A plastic card with its pre-cut GSM Sim Card.

Other custom shaped cards, MasterCard mc2, comply with ID-1 width and height but feature a large rounded edge.

A MasterCard Debit MC2 featuring a custom curved shape.

A MasterCard Debit MC2 featuring a custom curved shape.

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