Thermal Transfer Ribbons: The What and the Why


Thermal Transfer Ribbons: The What and the Why

It's important to understand the different types of thermal transfer ribbons and why you should use them. Choosing the right thermal transfer ribbons is imperative to produce the correct levels of quality and durability your labels need.

What is Thermal Transfer Printing?

Thermal transfer printing is when material is applied to a material (like paper or polyester) by melting a coating of ribbon so that it stays glued to the material. This differs from direct thermal printing that works without ribbons. Your decision of direct thermal printing or thermal transfer printing should depend on what material you're applying your label to, where it's going, how many you need and the longevity your label requires. We have produced a resource on Direct Thermal v. Thermal Transfer printing with more information that you can download here.

Full Wax Ribbons

Full wax are the most common type of thermal transfer ribbons used for standard print application requirements, where they perform well on a large range of materials and paper. The drawback of wax ribbons is that they can smear, so are not designed for prolonged use outdoors due to their softer image durability. Full wax ribbons are generally inexpensive and are used in a wide variety of industry applications throughout New Zealand.

Wax / Resin Ribbons

Wax/resin thermal transfer ribbons offer a step up in resistance, suitable for more demanding or outdoor application with excellent scuff and weather resistance. The printed area is harder than full wax ribbons, making them more resistant in transit and different temperatures. Wax ribbons also print extremely well on a large range of materials including plastic or synthetic labels such as vinyl, polyester and polypropylene. 

Full Resin Ribbons

Full resin ribbons are widely used in the industrial markets due to their robust makeup, standing the tests of time and harsh weather conditions. Made of pure resin, they generally cost more than wax ribbons but boast the best durability of all the ribbon types. They offer resistance to extreme temperatures, abrasions and some solvents which makes them ideal for the logistical, medical and industrial sectors.

Kiwi Labels offer thermal transfer ribbons to suit a large variety of printers and widths, and can advise you on the right product selection to meet your specific label printing requirements. Contact us today to see how we can help.


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