Different types of thermal transfer ribbons…

There are three types of thermal transfer ribbons, and each ribbon suits a certain type of label face stock material to provide users to get best quality print image.

  • Wax ribbons
  • Wax-resin ribbons
  • Resin ribbons

These ribbons are used for making long-lasting labels. The difference is only in the material used, and what conditions they can withstand.

Wax ribbons are commonly used for normal chromo paper labels, matte or semi-gloss. These labels can last long, but they have to remain dry. Also, they are not resistant to abrasion, oils, chemicals, or anything that could dissolve the wax image. Wax ribbon is the most-cost effective option for thermal transfer printers.

Wax-resin ribbons are used for very fine, smooth papers, coated paper labels (semi-gloss or gloss) or synthetic stocks. The printed images are fine, but more durable than images printed using wax ribbons. However, they also should not be exposed to moisture. Wax-resin ribbons are less expensive than resin ribbons, but more costly than wax.

Resin ribbons are used for printing on polyester, synthetic, plastic and hard film labels for indelible print image. These include polyester, vinyl and polypropylene, which are very durable materials. The resin ribbon ink is designed to slightly dissolve into the face stock which adds strength to the label. Depending on the resin ribbon and label material, these labels withstands exposure to sunlight, chemicals, oils, harsh weather, water, smudging etc. They are often used for labelling automobile and aircraft parts, hazardous chemicals, etc. Again, it is important to specify what kind of elements the label will be exposed to, in order to choose the right combination of resin ribbon and label face stock.