Thermal Transfer Ribbon
Thermal transfer ribbons are classified in three categories: Wax, Wax/Resin and Resin. If you think of them in that order, they basically match the three general classifications for label materials: paper, mid-range, somewhat soft synthetics and glossy, hard films like polyester. Within the three ribbon categories, ribbon manufacturers offer an extensive choice of ribbon formulas to fine-tune print results on specific materials. Not only do they address smudge and scratch resistance, but many handle specific conditions involving chemicals, solvents, and temperature extremes. Initially designed for bar code printing, black thermal transfer ribbons predominate.
We can't stress enough how important it is to choose the right thermal transfer ribbon formula for your labels and the right format for your label printer. The bond achieved with a well-matched printing ribbon to a label substrate is critical. With the right ribbon and printer settings, you get the best print quality and durability, sometimes even avoiding the need for a protective film laminate.
Ribbons typeWax Ribbons
The least expensive of all thermal transfer ribbons. Wax ribbons have a high percentage of wax based substance in the colorant. Most wax ribbons are made with a single colorant layer. Since waxes have lower melting points than resin substances, printing can be done at lower heat settings or energy levels. As waxes are softer image durability is less against smudge, scratch, chemical and environmental resistance. So wax ribbons are suitable for printing on uncaoted or matte coated surfaces. Wax ribbons are suitable for printing purposes where there is not much abrasion or physical contact against the printed matter or the printing is not needed for a long time. Wax ribbons can be used for general purpose labeling,shipping labels, address labels, garment tags, price tickets, warehouse applications, compliance label printing, including shelf and bin labels, retail tag and label applications.
Wax / Resin Ribbons
Wax / Resin ribbons are a combination of wax and resin based colorant substances in which resin substances hold a greater percentage. Wax / Resin ribbons are made of two or more layers. Resin substances have a highier melting point thus increasing the melting point of the ribbon. Printing with Wax / Resin ribbons takes place at a highier heat or energy setting then wax ribbons. As resins are harder then waxes image durability ,chemical resistance and abrasion smudge scratch resistance is more than that of wax based ribbons. They also assure excellent edge definition. Wax / Resin ribbons can be used with glossy or smooth surfaces, synthetic materials. Printing speeds of 16 inches per second can be achieved with Wax / Resin ribbons. Wax / Resin ribbons can be used for all purposes where wax ribbons are used but where there is a chance of abrasion or scratch due to contact. Wax / Resin ribbons are slightly expensive then wax ribbons.
Resin Ribbons contain the highest percentage of resin materials. Most Resin ribbons are made up of two are more layers. Printing with resin ribbons is done at high energy levels or heat settings as resins have a high melting point. Low print speeds can be achieved due to the high energy levels required for printing. But the resultant printing images bear a very high resistance to chemicals, heat, abrasion resistance and other environmental conditions. Resin Ribbons are best suited for use with textile apparel or garment labels like (taffeta / satin), high gloss coated materials like polyesters, polyolefins, destructible vinyl, warranty void labels, labels which are to be exposed to harsh environments like chemical drum labels, medical and pharmaceutical labeling, as well as industrial and automotive applications. Resin ribbons are the most expensive of thermal transfer ribbons.
How to choose right Ribbons?
Here are some things you need to consider when choosing a thermal transfer ribbon for label printing:
Printing on paper, matte, and semi-glossy materials – If you want to print labels on any of these surfaces the best choice for you would be a wax ribbon. This is a low-cost thermal ribbon and it is durable, great for printing barcodes and other labels. Just make sure that the label remains dry, away from oils, chemicals, or anything that can damage the wax design.
Printing on fine/smooth/coated papers or synthetic stock – Printing on any of these surfaces requires a wax-resin ribbon. This type of ribbon is more durable than wax ribbons and it produces clear images that can last on the material you are printing it on. Just make sure to keep it away from moisture to preserve its design. Although it costs more than wax ribbons, you might want to consider it given the quality and wide range of materials you can print on.
Printing on plastic and hard film labels – Choose a resin ribbon if you plan on printing on polyester, polypropylene, and vinyl materials. Resin ribbons are ideal for printing on durable materials, at the same time the printed design can withstand exposure from water, oils, and chemicals. It is the most expensive type of ribbon but it is guaranteed to last longer given that it can survive harsh elements.
Choosing the right thermal transfer ribbon is just part of learning what is best for printing your labels. Remember to also check what is compatible with your thermal transfer printer and the best label facestock to match your chosen thermal ribbon to ensure long-lasting labels.