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Guide to thermal ribbons and the differing grades.
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What is a thermal ribbon? (top)A thermal ribbon also known as an ink ribbon and thermal transfer ribbon is an ink coated film. When fed through a thermal transfer printer the ink is heated up by the printhead and the ink is transferred onto the label or card tag.
Why use thermal ribbons? (top)
Thermal ribbons are used when labels / card tags need to have a permanent print on the surface. Ribbons are available in three grades: wax, wax resin and resin.
What is the difference between wax, wax resin and resin?(top)
- Wax - Most popular with some smudge resistance. Suitable for matt and semi gloss paper labels. Brands include Armor AWR470, AM Ribbons AEW-10 and Zebra 2100/2300.
- Wax/Resin - Smudge resistant. Suitable for semi gloss paper and some synthetic labels. Brands include Armor APR6, AM Ribbons APD-25 Zebra 3200 and Toshiba AG2.
- Resin - Scratch and chemical resistant. Suitable for coated synthetic labels. Brands include Armor AXR7, AM Ribbons ASR-10, Zebra 5095 and Toshiba AS1.
What are the choices for ribbons? (top)Thermal ribbons have the following choices:
- Grade - Wax, resin enhanced wax, wax resin or resin
- Width - Ribbon width must be larger than the corresponding label width so that the print head on the printer is not damaged.
- Length - Ribbon length is determined by your printer. Desktop printers typically vary from 74M to 300M and industrial printers range from 300M to 600M (800m for Toshiba B-EX4T2)
- Wound - Outside or Inside dependant on your printer.
- Core size - desktop printer ribbons are usually supplied on an 1/2 inch core whereas industrial printer ribbons are supplied on an 1 inch core.