United States Patent 3758970

An identification or credit card structure is disclosed which includes a photographic likeness of an individual as well as printed information relating to the individual. The card is preferably comprised of three layers of plastic material with the printed information printed in reverse on the back side of the uppermost layer of plastic. The photographic likeness may be on conventional photographic paper or may be imprinted directly on a plastic panel. When imprinted on a plastic panel, the photograph is fused into the overall card structure upon lamination to form a tamper-proof, solid plastic card. Other techniques for rendering the card resistant to tampering are also disclosed, including the use of special printing techniques and special inks.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
283/75, 283/77, 283/108, 283/112, 283/904, 430/10
International Classes:
B42D15/10; (IPC1-7): G09F3/02
Field of Search:
40/2.2,125A,135 283
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3417497Identification card1968-12-24Hannon
3279826Credential1966-10-18Ruderhausen et al.
3152901Credit card or the like1964-10-13Johnson
3106032Laminated dual surfaced sign and sign making material1963-10-08Morgan
2588067Identification card1952-03-04Whitehead

Primary Examiner:
Michell, Robert W.
Assistant Examiner:
Contreras, Wenceslao J.
What is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is

1. An identification card comprising:

2. An identification card as in claim 1, wherein: said protographic likeness comprises a photographic image printed directly on said core material.

3. An identification card as in claim 1 further comprising;

4. An identification card as in claim 3, wherein: said pattern is printed in a frangible ink.

5. An identification card as in claim 4, wherein: said frangible ink is a fluorescent ink.

6. An identification card as in claim 4, wherein: said frangible ink is a magnetic ink.

7. An identification card as in claim 4, wherein: said frangible ink is a radioactive ink.

8. An identification card as in claim 3, wherein:


1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to identification or credit cards, and more particularly to identification or credit cards which include a photographic likeness of an individual and other printed or written data.

2. Description of the Prior Art

The use of credit and identification cards carrying photographs has become tremendously widespread in the past decade due to an ever increasing need to provide individuals with a convenient and reliable means for identifying themselves. For example, most large organizations such as corporations and universities now issue photograph bearing identification cards to all their employees or students, as a means of indicating their membership in the corporate or student body. In addition, due to an increase in credit card thefts and fraudulent purchases with illegally obtained credit cards, it is becoming necessary to provide photographic likenesses on credit cards in order to provide proper identification of the users thereof.

Accordingly, a strong felt need currently exists for photograph bearing identification cards which can be produced rapidly and inexpensively and yet are highly resistant to tampering and forging. Attempts made in the past to provide such identification or credit cards have not been entirely successful for various reasons. For example, many photograph bearing cards manufactured in the past have been relatively complicated and expensive to manufacture because they employed a large number of laminated layers. In addition, some previously available cards have been relatively easy to falsify simply by removing and replacing the photographs contained in them.


Accordingly, one object of this invention is to provide a novel photograph bearing identification card which is inexpensive to manufacture.

Another object of this invention is to provide a novel card structure containing an identification photograph which is highly resistant to tampering.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a photograph bearing credit card from which the photograph cannot be removed.

A still further object of this invention is to provide a photograph bearing identification card of completely unitary structure.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a novel process of producing photograph bearing identification cards.

A still further object of the invention is to provide a novel process of forming a unitary identification card structure bearing a photographic likeness.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a photograph bearing identification or credit card which includes a plurality of safeguards against tampering.

Briefly, these and other objects of the invention are accomplished according to a first embodiment of the invention by producing a multiple layer laminated card in which one layer contains an aperture or well into which a photograph printed on conventional paper is placed. An overlay having information printed in reverse on the back or inner surface thereof is then laminated over the photograph containing layer. According to a second embodiment of the invention, a photograph is directly imprinted on a plastic card or panel. Again, an overlay having material printed on the back or inner surface thereof is placed over and laminated to the photograph bearing card or panel.


A more complete appreciation of the invention and many of the attendant advantages thereof will be readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective side view of one embodiment of the present invention with the overlay panel partially folded back;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a multiple card assembly technique for mass producing the cards illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of a photograph bearing identification card structure according to a second embodiment of the invention; and,

FIG. 5 is an illustration of a top view of a completed card according to the present invention illustrating various anti-tampering features of the card.


Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference numerals designate identical or correspnding parts throughout the several views, and more particularly to FIG. 1 thereof, a first embodiment of the instant invention is shown as including a card assembly designated generally by the reference numeral 10. The card assembly includes a base card 12, a core panel 14 and an overlay 16 which are assembled such that the core panel is sandwiched between the base and overlay panels. All three portions of the card may be made of conventional polyvinyl-chloride plastic, for example. The base and core panels may be opaque while the overlay is either a transparent sheet of polyvinylchloride or a translucent sheet initially having a matte finish, but which becomes fully transparent as the card portions are laminated together. The thicknesses of the various portions in the card assembly may conform to those conventionally used in the credit card or identification card art. For example, the base card 12 may be on the order of 0.015 gauge plastic, the core panel 14 may be the same thickness, and the overlay 16 may be somewhat thinner, for example 0.010 gauge plastic. The resulting card would then have a total thickness of approximately 0.040 gauge plastic, although it is clear that any suitable thickness card may be used.

The core panel 14 preferably includes an aperture or well 18 adapted to receive a conventional photograph printed on conventional photographic paper 20. A printed pattern or some type of printed indicia, such as a line 22, may also be printed on core panel 14 where desired. For example, in the preferred embodiment of the invention, indicator lines may be printed on core panel 14 to indicate a position at which the person identified by the card may sign his or her name. Obviously, other types of indicator lines or patterns could also be included. However, it should be noted that according to the instant invention only a small portion of the information to be printed on the card is included on the core panel 14. Instead, it has been found extremely advantageous to print the major portion of the information which is to be included in the completed card in reverse on the back or inner surface 24 of the overlay panel 16. The printed information, of course, appears in normal, readable orientation when the completed card is viewed from the top. The reverse printing concept is illustrated more clearly in FIG. 2 wherein the card assembly 10 is shown in its assembled position but with the overlay panel 16 partially bent upward away from core panel 14, so as to reveal a portion of its back or inner surface 24. A sample of reverse printing is illustrated at 26. Although the name "John Doe" is illustrated as printed in reverse on the drawings at 26, it will be understood that nonpersonalized data may also be printed on the card. For example, information identifying the organization to which the holder of the card belongs and an identification number may be printed on the back or inner surface 24 of overlay panel 16. In addition, various types of inks may be used in reverse printing, and various types of patterns may be used to reduce the possibility of tampering with the card. These will be discussed in greater detail hereinafter.

Reverse printing on the back or inner surface of the overlay panel greatly simplifies the production of credit or identification cards and permits the use of a novel, highly efficient manner of gathering photographic and other personal information to be used in the production of such cards. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 3 when credit or identification cards are to be mass produced according to the present invention, large plastic sheets such as those illustrated at 28, 30 and 32 may be prepared, containing large numbers of base panels 12, core panels 14 and overlay panels 16 respectively. The sheet 30 containing a plurality of core panels 14 may then be shipped or sent to an organization desiring to have identification cards made. The sheets 30 which may have no specific printing on them other than signature lines and the like (illustrated at 22) may thus be mass produced and kept in stock for instantaneous shipment to a prospective user at very little expense. The same would not be true if it were necessary to print a considerable amount of specific information on the core panel 16. In that case it would be necessary to print a substantial amount of information on the large sheets 30 either before or after they were sent to prospective users, causing a substantial time delay in completing the cards. Using the above described reverse printing technique, however, printing on the overlay panel can be accomplished while the prospective user is placing personalized information on the core panel.

Thus, according to the present invention, the sheets 30 may be immediately sent out for signing or other personalized processing by the individuals who are to be using the completed cards, and appropriate photographs may be collected. At the same time, whatever printing is desired to be placed on the completed card may be done at the card manufacturing plant by printing in reverse on the lower surface 34 of the overlay sheet 32. Once all necessary information has been obtained and all necessary printing has been accomplished, the cards may be assembled either individually or may be mass produced by the assembly of large sheets as illustrated in FIG. 3.

In assembling individual cards, the core panel 14 is first placed on a base panel 12. Adhesive is applied to the well area 18 of the core panel 14 and the photograph 20 is inserted into the well and irremovably adhered to the base panel 12 by the action of the adhesive. A suitable adhesive is Industrial Plastic Adhesive number 218 which may be obtained from the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. Other suitable adhesives may be used, although the adhesive selected must be capble of adhering the photograph to the base panel 12 so that it cannot be removed without being completely destroyed. The overlay panel 16, with printing in reverse on the back or inner surface thereof, is then positioned over the core panel 14. The three plastic panels are then placed in a laminating press and subjected to a pressure on the order of 2,000 p.s.i. and a temperature in the range of approximately 250°F to 275°F for a period of time which may be from five to seven minutes. Clearly, the pressure, temperature and time periods may be varied depending upon the equipment being used, the type and thickness of the plastic being laminated, and other manufacturing factors. This process has the effect of adhering the three layers together to provide a sealed identification card. Further processes, such as embossing, for example, may be performed on the completed card, as will be described hereinafter. It will be noted that essentially the same process may be used in laminating the multiple card sheets illustrated in FIG. 3.

A second embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to FIG. 4, which illustrates a second card assembly generally designated 36. The card assembly 36 includes a base card 38, a core panel 40 and an overlay panel 42. The base card 38 and overlay panel 42 may be substantially identical to base card 12 and overlay panel 16 of the first card assembly 10. However, the core panel 40 is substantially different from core panel 14 in that panel 40 does not include a well, since this embodiment of the invention does not use a conventional photograph printed on conventional photographic paper, as does the FIG. 1 embodiment of the invention. Instead, a photographic likeness or print 44 is imprinted directly on the core material 40, eliminating the need for a conventional photograph. The technique of imprinting the photograph directly on core panel 40 may be accomplished in either of two manners. The photograph may be transferred to the plastic core 40 using a diffusion transfer technique. This technique may be accomplished using an Anken identification camera manufactured by the Anken Chemical and Film Corporation of Newton, N.J. Alternatively, a photosensitive plastic may be used and the photographic likeness may be imprinted on it by exposing the photosensitive plastic and a photographic negative to an electric arc light. The photosensitive plastic may be of the type produced by the Direct Reproduction Corporation, 635 Union Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., or may be any equivalent type of photosensitive plastic as long as the chemical composition and physical properties of the photosensitive plastic is essentially identical to that of the base card and overlay panels. The reason that all component layers of the cards must be nearly identical in chemical and physical properties is that once the card is laminated together according to the procedure described above, it then becomes a unitary block of plastic which cannot be altered in any manner except by total mutilation. In particular, when a card is constructed according to the embodiment of FIG. 4 using layers of nearly identical material, is is impossible to remove the photograph without actually cutting a hole completely through the card.

Information may be printed in reverse on the back or inner surface of overlay panel 42 prior to laminating in a manner identical to that described with reference to the embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 3. Similarly, the card of FIG. 4 may be mass produced using large sheets as illustrated in FIG. 3. In addition, a modification of the card of FIG. 4 is possible in which only two layers of material are necessary. In this development, the base panel 38 may be eliminated causing the resulting card structure to include only the core panel 40 and an overlay panel 42. This structure is possible because it is not necessary to cut a well or aperture in the core layer 40. Thus the core layer 40 is solid and the back or outer surface thereof may be used to accomplish the same backing function as would the additional base card 38.

Various procedures, which are applicable to both of the embodiments of the invention described above, may be used to improve the resistance of the cards produced in accordance with the teachings of this invention to tampering or forging. These techniques are illustrated generally in FIG. 5 which shows the upper surface of a completed card 46. As is illustrated in FIG. 5, the entire upper surface of the completed card 46 or any portion thereof, especially in the area of the photograph, may be covered with a fine pattern of printing 48, which is similar in nature to a watermark. The printing may take the form of words printed in fine lettering, or may be symbolic printing or a suitable design. The printing should be relatively fine and of such a color that it does not prevent the reading of other information printed on the card or prevent recognition of the photographic image contained therein. This printing pattern 48, which may be imprinted by a lithographic process or an equivalent process, is accomplished by printing in reverse on the back or inner surface of the overlay panel 16 or 42 using a frangible ink. The printing pattern 48 is preferably applied to the back or inner surface of the overlay panel after the previously described information is printed thereon by the same or a similar technique. The ink used may be a fluorescent ink, a magnetic ink, an ink including some form of radioactive energy or an equivalent type of ink, the presence of which may be sensed either visually or with the aid of special sensing equipment.

The printing pattern which is printed on the back or inner surface of the overlay is designed to adhere to the surface of the photograph 20 or photoprint 44 after the card is laminated together. In the use of some inks, the lamination process itself causes the ink to adhere to the surface of the photograph. Other inks require the application of adhesive materials to the surface of the photograph or photoprint. The purpose of the printing pattern is to render it increasingly difficult to remove or tamper with the photograph contained in the card without destroying the continuity of the card and to make forging of the card more difficult. For example, since the printing pattern adheres to the surface of the photograph, in a card constructed using a conventional photograph (as in FIGS. 1 through 3) removal of the photograph will cause removal of at least a portion of the printing pattern. Naturally, duplication of the printing pattern by a tamperer who substitutes his photograph for the photograph originally placed in the card would be extremely difficult. Similarly, if the printing pattern is applied to the card illustrated in FIG. 4, forging of the card would require duplication of the printed pattern 48. Duplication of the printed pattern 48 in the required style, size and with the proper type of ink would be extremely difficult.

As an additional security measure, a name, number or a printed pattern may be embossed on the card across the photograph portion. In this case, if an attempt were made to remove the photograph, the embossed portion would also be removed, and would be extremely difficult for a potential tamperer to replace. Embossing may of course be accomplished in the conventional manner, with embossed characters normally raised approximately 1/32 inch high by pressing the rear of the card with a special embossing machine, such, for example, as the type available from Farrington Business Machines, Inc.

From the description above, it will be apparent that by employing the various techniques described herein an inexpensive yet highly tamper-resistant photograph bearing identification card can be produced.

Obviously, numerous additional modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.