As an established supplier of business cards in NYC, we are lucky to come across many exotic business card designs and finishes. In many cases, we hear about new products and finishes before other people do. This is strictly because of our location in NYC as opposed to other parts of the country. Sometimes we incorrectly make the assumption that our customers are aware of certain products that might not be mainstream yet. This is definitely the case with clear plastic business cards. Lately, I’ve found myself being asked if we can do them quite often. I think this amount of attention warrants a dedicated blog post.
A clear plastic business card is defined as a plastic business card that is completely transparent. These clear business cards are just like a window, meaning you can see right through them with minimal distortion. Its important to note that there are other plastic materials that are similar, but not the same. The best example would be translucent plastic business cards. Those business cards are transparent as well, just not to the same degree. Translucent business cards allow some light to pass through, but objects are not clearly visible when looking through the cards.
We started printing on 3 different types of plastic about 5 years ago. We utilize a highly specialized digital press that can handle ultra heavyweight stocks as well as materials other than paper. The 3 types of plastic that we offer are white, translucent, and clear plastic. Since the usual assumption from the customer’s standpoint was that our plastic material was white, we didn’t see much of a demand for clear or translucent plastic. We noticed after a couple years that every now and then someone would ask for clear plastic business cards. When we informed them that we can easily do them, they all seemed really shocked. Unfortunately, we still didn’t get the picture that most people still didn’t know. Finally about a year ago we decided to inform people every time they asked for plastic business cards that we can do clear and translucent plastics as well. Interestingly, the ratio of orders between the 3 plastic materials went from 90% white and 10% other, to 40% white and 60% other. I guess its quite clear where we went wrong.
As with any discussion that we have about clear plastic business cards, we always point out the pros and cons of using this finish. First, the cons. These business cards usually cannot be double sided. This is a huge drawback for people who actually have a double sided design. They either have to be seriously clever about packing all of their information on one side, or they just can’t use clear plastic. These business cards also dramatically affect certain colors, particularly gradients. Since light can pass through the business card, some lighter colors in logos are almost invisible. This almost always leads to a customer being dissatisfied with the product, so are very careful about explaining this point.
There are some very good reasons to use clear plastic on your business cards as well. Perhaps the most important would be the unique characteristic of transparency. This feature allows someone to design business cards that can do things that aren’t possible with any other finishes. As an example, we recently did a business card that could be folded into a rubber band gun. Due to the requirements of the rubber band gun, the material had to be really stiff. Plastic was the perfect fit. But the clear plastic was the only finish that could allow for a see through target sight, which could then be used to accurately aim the rubber band gun. That would not be possible with any other finish. Additionally, clear plastic business cards are by far the smoothest plastic available. If smoothness is your priority, clear plastic business cards are nearly as smooth as glass.
In the end, the lesson here is that there are many types of plastic that can be used for your business cards. Although we focus on three types of plastic, other printers may offer different ones. Its also important to be aware that white isn’t the only option for plastic business cards. Hopefully someone finds this information helpful when ordering from us or anyone.