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What is a Lanyard?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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A lanyard is a cord or strap that is worn around the neck to hold an identification badge, whistle, keys or other small object. You can see lanyards in use everywhere by businesses, schools, hospitals, at special events, conventions, reunions, and in many recreational activities.

Lanyards can also be used as an advertising tool with a customized logo or name printed on the strap. They come in various colors and types with different hardware attached at the bottom for holding an ID badge, whistle or the like.

Lanyards can be made of cord, cotton, nylon or polyester twill. The cord type is the least expensive but cannot be printed because it lacks the flat surface of the strap-type. Some have a small bulb containing a retractable reel to use with an ID badge or keys. They might also have breakaway connectors so that if the lanyard gets caught it will release before it pulls on the neck.

The strap-type lanyards can be made of cotton, polytwill or nylon and are often printed with a company or team name, product or logo. There are generally three different printing methods used: hot stamping, screen printing, or dye sublimation.

To hot stamp a metal plate is designed according to artwork provided by the customer. The plate is heated then a color film is placed over the lanyard. The plate is applied with pressure, which heats the film, transferring the color and design to the material. Hot stamping uses a single color and is the most economical. Hot stamping is suitable for many applications such as trade shows, reunions, student badges and so on.

Screen-printing provides a higher quality result that is more durable. A fine mesh screen is made from the customer's artwork. The screen is laid on top of the material and the colored ink is applied over the screen. A squeegee pushes the ink through the mesh screen to create the design beneath on the fabric. Heat cures the ink for a high-resolution result.

Dye sublimation is a superior printing process that can create multicolored, highly detailed designs. With this method the customer's design is transferred to a fine paper that uses dye sublimation inks. The paper is placed on the lanyard and pressure and heat are applied, causing the image to become enmeshed into the material. The design remains smooth because of the method used, allowing for an image that is less prone to abrasion or fading.

A lanyard can also come with different hardware. The O-ring is common for using with a whistle or keys. It may also have a split-connector so that it is easily removed and snapped back into place. A swivel snaphook is good for ID badges that have a rectangular hole at the top, and the bulldog clip is the type that when squeezed, both serrated jaws open, similar to how an alligator clip works.

Lanyards are inexpensive and can be purchased in bulk for promotional or professional use, or in single units. Many outlets are available online, easily found with any search engine.

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Discussion Comments

By AnswerMan — On Mar 25, 2014

I have to wear a lanyard whenever I visit the local hospital on business. They give me a pass that reads "Visitor" and a lanyard so I can wear it around my neck. It makes me feel a little more official.

By Cageybird — On Mar 24, 2014

My son's high school started requiring students to wear identification badges on lanyards for security reasons. I'd have to say it felt odd to visit a school full of children wearing the kind of badges and lanyards I wear for my job at a military base. We had to purchase a few additional lanyards because the original one kept getting lost at home. A few years after my son graduated, the school stopped issuing those badges and lanyards.

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