DNP Thermal Transfer Ribbon Types

A thermal transfer ribbon acts as the intermediate between the label stock and the printhead, transferring the printed design on the label using heat. Choosing the correct ribbon type for your specific labels is critical to ensuring optimal print quality and durability. Two key factors that influence ribbon choice are the label material and the application environment/requirements. DNP offers a variety of wax, wax/resin and resin color ribbons to address different application requirements.

Wax ribbons contain a high percentage of wax, allowing them to melt under the heat from the printhead and transfer onto the label surface. They are ideal for paper and some synthetic label stocks, printing clear barcodes with good adhesiveness. They offer the lowest cost of all Thermal Transfer Ribbon Types, but their low melting point makes them less durable than other ribbon types.

For more durable labels, a hybrid wax/resin ribbon offers the best of both worlds. The higher percentage of wax increases the melting temperature and adds strength to the label, while the resin provides resistance to harsh environments, smudging and scratching. Wax/resin ribbons are suitable for coated or uncoated paper and a variety of synthetic label stocks, including PET, vinyl, and wash care labels.

Resin ribbons, or full resin ribbons, are the most durable of all thermal transfer ribbons. They are designed to withstand extreme temperatures, harsh chemicals, water and heavy handling. They are recommended for labels that require resistance to abrasion and extreme conditions, such as outdoor or tool/equipment labeling or those where UL approval is required.

Aside from the basic categories of full wax, wax/resin and resin ribbons, there are many other variants available to fit specific applications. For instance, there are a number of specialty ribbons for special label materials such as polypropylene, vinyl and nylon. There are also CSO (Coated Side Out) and CSI (Coated Side In) ribbons which are orientated so that the ink is on the inside of the roll to prevent contact with the label, reducing the risk of smudging or scratching.

The most important thing to remember when selecting a ribbon is that it must be compatible with the label it will be printing on. Incompatibility can result in a wide range of quality problems, from grey shading or partial ink transfer to pinhole gaps and smudges.

To avoid these issues, make sure your printer and label are a match made in heaven by consulting our Label Selection Guide. Then choose the ribbon type that is right for you from our vast inventory of products. If you still have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our support team! We’re always ready to help.