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How to choose the right thermal ribbon for your Label printer

Release Time: 03/23/2012 08:45 View: 72

Thermal transfer printing provides a longer-lasting print as compared to direct thermal printing. The reason thermal transfer printers have a longer duration is because of the use of a thermal transfer ribbon during the printing process. A thermal transfer ribbon is required to obtain a long-lasting print.

However, it can be an extremely difficult task at choosing the proper thermal transfer ribbon to fit your printer and application. Well, here are some simple steps and procedures to assist you in selecting the suitable thermal ribbon for your printer as well as how to identify the proper ribbon that suits your printer.

Step One: Determine the Proper Wind Direction of Ribbon

You may notice when shopping for printer ribbons that there are two categories: coated side out (CSO) and coated side in (CSI). This refers to where the ink coating is placed on the ribbons. It affects how they're wound and fed through the printer – most printers can only take one style or the other.

Coated Side Out (CSO) Ribbon and Coated Side In (CSI) Ribbon

Coated Side Out (CSO) Ribbons

Coated side out ribbons are printing ribbons that have the ink coating facing outside. Zebra thermal transfer printers typically use this type of ribbon. You'll notice that the ink is on the outside of the ribbon roll and that it unrolls from the bottom before making contact with the print-head and label.

To correctly insert this ribbon type into your printer, unroll it from the bottom and feed it underneath.

Coated Side In (CSI) Ribbons

Coated side in ribbons are printing ribbons that have the ink facing inside. Datamax and Sato thermal transfer printers most commonly use CSI ribbons. You'll notice that the ink is on the inside of the ribbon roll and that it unrolls from the top before making contact with the print-head and label.

To correctly insert this ribbon type into your printer, unroll it from the top and feed it over.

Use adhensive tape to determine wind direction of ribbon

Use adhensive tape to determine wind direction of ribbon

Step Two: Determine the Proper Ribbon Size

Thermal printer ribbons are generally measured, width by length (WxL). Here are some factors to consider when determining the size of the Thermal Transfer Ribbon.

1. The width of the printer ribbon:

  • Many printers have different print width.
  • A 6-inch width ribbon will not fit into a printer with a 4-inch print width.
  • It is important to choose the width of the ribbon that is equal to or less than your printer’s print width.
  • 2. The length of the Thermal Transfer Ribbon:

  • The length of a ribbon will determine the number of inches that 1 roll will print.
  • For example, a ribbon with a length of 244 inches will have enough ribbon to print 244, 1 inch long labels or 122, 2 inch long labels.
  • 3. The diameter of the Thermal Transfer Ribbon:

    The length of the ribbon will determine the diameter of the roll, the longer length will make the diameter of the roll bigger. Therefore, the length should not exceed the recommended length / roll diameter recommended by the printer maker. If the diameter of the roll is too big, it can’t fit into the printer.

    Step Three: Select the Printer Ribbon Material

    When it comes to selecting the proper printer ribbon material for your printer, there are three types of materials to consider.

    1. Wax Ribbon

  • Wax ribbons are the most cost-effective version of the ribbon.
  • Suggested for printing shipping and packaging labels, retail tags, and retail labels.
  • A wax ribbon print will last significantly longer than a direct thermal printer. Recommended to be used with Coated Art Paper labels.
  • Most wax ribbons will be printed in black.
  • However, if a need for a specific colour print arises, choose a colour ribbon.
  • 2. Wax/Resin Ribbon

  • A wax/resin ribbon is a mixture/hybrid of wax and resin in a ribbon and it offer exceptional print quality and scratch resistance as well as smudge-proof.
  • This type of hybrid ribbon is suitable to be used for asset tracking in rough our outdoor locations, warehouse signage, and medical device tracking.
  • It is recommended to be used on a wide range of Coated Art Paper and mid-range synthetic label stocks.
  • 3. Resin Ribbon

  • This type of ribbon is the most durable and longest lasting choice.
  • Usually, this choice of Thermal Transfer Ribbon is used for products that are exposed to many different environments.
  • Resin prints can tolerate and withstand water, chemicals, abrasions, oil and greases.
  • This type of printer ribbon is suitable to be used with durable synthetic labels.
  • Step Four: Selectthe right Thermal Transfer Ribbon for your label stock

    There are many types of Thermal Transfer Ribbon being produce for used on different types of label. It is very important to test print on your label stock to see whether it is compatible before buying the Thermal Transfer Ribbon.

  • A single Thermal Transfer Ribbon might not print well on all your label stock.
  • Request for sample roll to test print on your label stock, if it’s suitable for your label stock, the printout is with clear characters / alphabets.
  • Now that you have read these four steps, we hope that you will have a better understanding and know-how to make a better-informed decision when selecting the right thermal ribbon for your label printer next time.

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