Long-standing partnership brings about new era in direct-to-card printers

Altron Card Solutions (ACS) and Entrust launch Sigma – the world’s most advanced ID card solution.

Johannesburg, 14 Dec 2020
Read time 3min 50sec
Nico Els, General Manager: Card Personalisation, ACS, a division of Altron
Nico Els, General Manager: Card Personalisation, ACS, a division of Altron

A partnership that has spanned over two decades between Altron Card Solutions (ACS) and global leader Entrust has enabled ACS to firmly position itself as the country’s foremost card personalisation solutions provider.

Card personalisation could be defined as the provision of an identity to a blank plastic or polycarbonate card, using a thermal or re-transfer printing process embossing or indenting, or laser engraving during the personalisation process. ACS and Entrust provide card personalisation solutions for desktop issuance (DI), financial instant issuance (FII), card bureaus and government institutions. ACS is the proud partner to the Government Printing Works, where the South African National Identity Cards are produced since 2012.

This partnership has produced many milestones, including, more recently, Entrust awarding ACS the Datacard Global Partner of the Year Award in 2018 and the EMEA Award for the Best Financial Instant Issuance (FII) Reseller in EMEA for the Entrust product range in 2019. However, the launch of the Sigma range of desktop ID card printers could easily become one of the most significant sources of pride for both entities.

General Manager, Nico Els, who heads up the card personalisation division at ACS, states: “The new range of Sigma products truly represents a new era in direct-to-card printing. Specifically designed for today’s cloud environments, these solutions offer the ability to easily issue secure identity tokens.”

The new Sigma range of printers include three main derivatives.

  • The DS1 simplex, direct-to-card printer;
  • The DS2 simplex or optional duplex direct-to-card printer; and
  • The DS3 duplex direct-to-card printer with optional tactile impression and lamination modules.

Product benefits

“The emphasis of the Sigma range is on 'smart, simple and secure',” explains Akash Bechan, Datacard Product Specialist at ACS.

A simple set-up process allows a user to be up and running in just a matter of minutes, while the intuitive printer dashboard allows the user to view their printer status, order supplies and more – all from their mobile device.

“It is often the case that the easier it is to use the product, the less secure it is; this is simply not the case with Sigma,” says Bechan.

Fraudulent ID documents and credentials are incredibly lucrative to criminals – reaching values of up to $10 000 on the black market. Thus, it is essential that the card personalisation process be as secure and impenetrable as possible.

The Sigma range secures card personalisation issuance using the following methods:

  • Consumer data stored in the issuance software is encrypted;
  • Secure boot protects the range of Sigma printers from malware or virus threats on boot-up;
  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) manages the printer’s own TLS/SSL certificates and keys;
  • Control access to the printers is locked; and
  • No consumer data is stored in the printer after successful issuance of a physical token.

“We’re confident that our industry-leading issuance security architecture will keep both the cards and our customers’ data safe and secure throughout the issuance process,” says Bechan.

Printing in the age of IOT

The products' ‘smart’ characterisation is drawn from the fact that it is ‘born in the cloud’. It is one of the first printers that can be connected to a cloud-based application and produce both a physical identity and a digital token to be used on Internet-connected devices. “You can even print using your mobile phone from anywhere in the world,” adds Bechan.

There is a fourth and final ‘silent s’ for ‘scalability’. “In the past, previous ranges of printers had limited upgradeability, but today, users can add a lot of features to the base Sigma product,” says Els.

Both Bechan and Els’ excitement for the Sigma range is clearly evident when discussing the product features, as they both express a level of enthusiasm that is somewhat rare in highly technical descriptions.

“We are looking forward to the moment when our customers are able to interact with the Sigma range and see for themselves why the products represent a new era in direct-to-card printing,” concludes Els. “The products are truly designed with both technology and usability in mind – they represent the future.” Smart, simple and secure.

Editorial contacts
Brand Specialist for FinTech Raelene van der Mescht
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