Everything you need to know about wash care ribbons

Barcoding has become an important part of a company’s asset identification and tracking system. From cars to clothing manufacturing, barcodes are everywhere. Due to their dynamic use, we develop specialized barcode labels and ribbons suitable for different industries. One type of ribbon is the wash care ribbon, which is mainly used in the textile field.

What is a wash care ribbon?
These are a type of thermal transfer ribbon used for barcode labels. There are two main methods of printing barcodes on labels – thermal printing and thermal transfer printing.

Thermal printing requires a specially coated thermochromic (color changes by heating) layer. Once the paper enters the printer, the printhead heats it in specific locations. The heated part changes color, eventually printing a barcode on the label. As the name suggests, thermal transfer printing does not heat the label paper to initiate printing. Instead, in this process we compress the paper with thermal transfer ribbon. These special ribbons, like wash care ribbons, have one side coated with a mixture of ink and adhesive. The coated side presses against the label before the printhead begins to heat the ribbon from the other side. The heat melts the coating, which is then printed onto the label.

Thermal Printing vs. Thermal Transfer: Which Is Better?
Since no redundant components are involved, thermal printing is more cost-effective than TTR. However, due to the thermochromic nature of the ink, these barcode labels tend to fade in hot environments. Thermal transfer printing, on the other hand, creates a more durable print on the label and can withstand high temperatures and moisture.

In short, depending on your application, you can choose between the two.

How do they work?
As mentioned above, wash care ribbon is a type of thermal transfer ribbon. They have a special resin coating on one side that is mixed with ink. During the printing process, the counter-pressure roller presses the label and ribbon firmly against the print head. The print head then heats the back of the ribbon, and the heat melts the coating, allowing it to imprint on the label.

What are the advantages and applications of wash care ribbons?
As the name suggests, wash care ribbons are designed to withstand repeated washes. These ribbons are used to print barcode labels on clothes and other textiles. These ribbons provide prints with extra protection from water and detergents. These barcodes are long-term fade resistant and are expected to last longer than the life of the fabric they are worn on.

They are also resistant to scratches, smudges and scuffs as they have to deal with the dirt and dust in the environment as well as the abrasives in soap.

Wash Care Ribbon FAQ:
Q1. What are ribbons and barcode labels?
Answer: Barcode labels are self-adhesive labels with barcodes printed on them. There are two basic types of barcode labels – thermochromic labels and thermal transfer labels. Thermochromic labels are already coated with a layer of ink to begin printing. Thermal transfer labels require special thermal transfer ribbons to print barcodes on them.
Thermal transfer ribbon is a special film coated on one side with a mixture of resin/wax and ink. As the name suggests, they use heat to transfer the coating onto the barcode label.
Q2. What are the different types of barcode ribbons?
Answer: There are three basic types of barcode ribbons depending on the material used for its coating, namely –
a) wax tape
b) Wax resin tape
c) Resin tape
Q3. What are the two main types of barcodes?
Answer: Based on the way barcodes store data, we can divide them into two types. Linear barcodes can only store data in the form of black and white bars along the horizontal axis. Black bars represent “1” and white bars represent “0”. 2D (two-dimensional) barcodes, on the other hand, can store data along two axes (vertical and horizontal). 2D barcodes can store more data than linear barcodes.

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