How a Smart Card is Made – Part 4: Card Fulfillment

By | March 17, 2017

This is the last part of a four-parts essay on Smart Card Manufacturing: 

  1. Smart Card Module Production
  2. Card Body Production
  3. Card Personalization
  4. Card Fulfillment

4 – Card Fulfillment

Card fulfillment is the very last process of the card manufacturing and can be done with a single modular machine or with a mix of manual and automated steps.

The Böwe Systec Card Light card mailing system.

Pack into boxes

The cards are packed into cardboard boxes, sealed with security tape and sent to logistic department for shipping.

Card Wrapping

Cards are wrapped with a plastic film, usually the pouch are closed by means of  ultra-sonic sealing method.

Cardholder data Lookup

The controller computer of the card mailing system query the production database and fetch the cardholder data that are formatted and sent to the welcome letter printer.

Welcome Letter Printing

The laser printer prints the welcome letter that is also referred as “Card Carrier”. This can be achieved in several different methods:

  • Blank sheet of paper, the printer prints the issuer logo and the whole letter. This is the most expensive (time, laser printer toner) option but it give lot of flexibility using plain white paper stock.
  • Sheet of paper with preprinted issuer logo, the printer prints only the date, customer name and address.

Personalized card carrier with one card attached.

Preprinted Letter Feeding

The card carrier already fully printed, no customer information is added. This is usually done for cards that do not carry any customer information such as pre-paid cards or anonymous debit card.

An anonymous debit card.

Card Attach on Carrier

The card receive a piece of double side sticky tape or a drop of silicon-based glue and it is affixed on the welcome letter on a specific position.

Some card mailing systems allow to attach multiple cards on a single card carrier.

The Matica Technologies MS6000 card mailing system.


The card carrier is folded in order to reach the envelope dimension. Popular ways of folding are Z-Fold, C-Fold and V-Fold.

Add Inserts

One or more automated feeder add leaflets or other promotional printed material on the top of the folded card carrier.

Envelope Insertion – Sealing

The bundle of card carrier with its insert is automatically inserted into the envelope.

The envelope is then sealed.

Envelope Sorting
The sealed envelopes are sorted by postal code or postal areas, then stored into mailing boxes.

A Swiss Post mailing sorting box.

Ship to Customer

The mailing boxes are the closed / sealed and sent to courier or postal service for delivery to card customers.

Value Added Fulfillment

Some types of exclusive cards, like the American Express Centurion, are shipped to customers with a heavily complex package that are assembled manually.

An American Express Centurion Card welcome pack.

The process diagrams are available in a print-friendly PDF file here.