What is worth knowing about thermal transfer ribbons?

Thermal transfer ribbons, more commonly referred to as printer ribbons, are a crucial component in any thermal printing setup. They’re used to transfer images, text and other graphics onto certain types of media (paper, synthetic labels and tags). It’s important to understand the different types of thermal transfer ribbon available on the market and their features in order to decide which one best suits your needs.

What should be paid attention to when choosing thermal transfer ribbon?

It’s been 40 years since the first thermal transfer printer hit the market. It is currently one of the most popular devices for printing markings (such as barcodes) in many branches (retail, logistics and industrial).

Due to the parallel development of equipment and consumables, the wide application of thermal transfer printers has become possible.

Achieving higher quality and resolution printing is not only due to high-quality parts, but also due to the selection of appropriate, high-quality thermal transfer special consumables, namely paper, film and thermal transfer ribbon.

This article is dedicated to a brief description of thermal transfer ribbons. It will point out important aspects worth considering when making a purchasing decision.

What should be paid attention to when choosing thermal transfer ribbon?

In the case of thermal transfer ribbons, in addition to the ink itself, the ribbon has additional layers that constitute each manufacturer’s know-how and have an impact on print quality and durability.

Performance Considerations

When it comes to selecting a suitable thermal transfer ribbon, you should consider factors such as print quality – is the image crisp and clear? Durability – will it last through all sorts of environmental conditions? And cost effectiveness – will the cost savings potential outweight problems associated with using a lower-priced product? Other key considerations include resistance against solvents, abrasion and tearing; color saturation; your selected ribbon has been tested extensively by certified labs as per industry requirements in order to guarantee optimal performance.

Thermal transfer ribbon structure

thermal transfer ribbon structure

Thermal Transfer Ribbon Basics

The most common type of thermal transfer ribbon is made of wax-based resin or a combination thereof. This type of ribbon melts when exposed to heat from a thermal print head and then transfers its content onto the desired surface (usually paper or synthetic labels/ tags). The two main categories for these ribbons are either wax-resin or full resin. Wax-resin ribbons are designed for printers that use lower temperatures and are ideal for general purpose printing jobs. Full resin ribbons, on the other hand, require Higher temperatures and deliver better performance with more durable prints when used with polyester/vinyl/polypropylene substrates such as laminated labels or tags.

Back Coating – A special layer that protects the printhead from abrasion. It ensures that the ribbon slides under the printhead

PET film – as a carrier for thermal transfer ribbons

Primer – helps to apply the ink to the polyester carrier and transfer to the label during the printing process

Inks – Available in wax, wax/resin and resin inks

To ensure an appropriate level of quality, the following three criteria must be met:

Label printers must ensure the correct quality of ink transfer to labels

Raw materials for making labels need to have a suitable surface layer

Thermal transfer ribbons should have the proper quality of ink to ensure the durability of the printed image required for the specific application

There are many possible combinations of these three elements, making it possible to choose the right solution to meet the needs of each branch in terms of cost and durability. In order to choose the most suitable one, we thoroughly analyze the client’s needs and their specific requirements. Then, based on our own experience and the tests we conduct, we choose the solution that meets the client’s expectations.

How to avoid misunderstandings when choosing thermal transfer ribbons?

What deserves attention is the “Ink Type” of the thermal transfer ribbon, which determines its variability.

Wax tape:

The ink is made on a wax base, which may contain some resin additives. Wax-based ribbons are primarily used for printing labels made of uncoated paper. The printed image is characterized by low abrasion resistance; therefore, the ribbon is designed for printing short-term marks. Wax tapes are mainly used where price is a priority (retail, logistics, printing collective packaging labels). It is the cheapest thermal transfer ribbon available.

Wax/Resin Ribbons:

If on this thermal transfer ribbon, the ink is a mixture of wax and resin. Ribbons are primarily used for markings that may be exposed to heat or abrasion. Wax/resin ribbons are mainly used for printing coated paper labels and certain types of film labels. Heat resistance is very important if labeled products are packaged into plastic sleeves and then shrink-wrapped. Ribbons are used to mark products and packaging during shipping and logistics.

Resin Ribbon:

Ribbons are designed for printing permanent markings and are mainly used in industry and where the printed image is exposed to a variety of elements such as heat and chemicals. Ink is made by adding some additives on the basis of resin. Sometimes inferior resin ribbons contain wax additives. While such a procedure speeds up and facilitates the transfer of ink to the label, it has a negative impact on the solvent and abrasion resistance of the printed image. It also affects price.

Thermal Transfer Ribbon Types and Printheads

When selecting a thermal transfer ribbon, pay attention to the printhead of the printer used in the process. There are flathead printers and near-edge printers on the market. Printhead type is an important factor in choosing the right ribbon.

Near-edge printers are characterized by higher print speeds and temperatures, which are not suitable for wax ribbons, for example.

Is there only black transfer ribbon?

No… 🙂 Besides the black ribbons which make up 90% of the market, there are also white, colored (primary) and metallic ribbons.

You may also come across ribbons, which enable printed images in the form of holograms, and ribbons that are only visible under ultraviolet light, used to ensure product authenticity.

Eco Friendly Options

In recent years there has been an increase in demand for eco friendly options when it comes to thermal transfer ribbons due largely to environmental concerns. Eco friendly alternatives are available which use a technology known as ‘eco-solvent’ which utilizes anbetslike vegetables seeking cost savings without compromising on quality or durability.

Hangzhou Sinoco Industry Co., Ltd.: Your Source For Quality Thermal Transfer Ribbons Solutions

standards like color reproduction accuracy, scratch resistance, tearing strength , abrasion resistance etc.. We also offer customized services tailored according to customer’s individual requirements allowing us greater flexibility in meeting their demands while providing same superior service. re looking for an excellent supplier who offers exceptional quality products at competitive prices coupled with excellent customer service then don’t hesitate any longer – contact Hangzhou Sinoco Industry Co., Ltd. today!

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