What are the key factors in choosing a thermal transfer ribbon (TTR)?

There are several things you need to consider:

Ribbon width: the ribbon should extend past the edge of the label material to prevent the printhead being damaged from abrasion by the label material (e.g., a 70mm wide label requires a 80mm wide ribbon)

Ribbon type: the three types are wax, wax/resin and resin:

  • Wax ribbons cost less than the other types and are usually used when long-term durability is not an issue. They are best for printing on coated or uncoated paper tags and labels. Typical uses include shipping labels, pricing labels and other indoor applications.
  • Wax/resin ribbons are more expensive, but the imprint is more resistant to scratching, smearing and mild chemicals. They are best for printing on coated paper, coated tags and films and are suitable for short-term outdoor uses.
  • Resin ribbons are the most expensive, but the imprint is very durable and resistant to most chemicals. They are best for printing on synthetics materials such as polyester and polymide.

Ink configuration: when you buy ribbon you need to specify the brand of printer to ensure that the ribbons are wound in the correct configuration – ink side wound ‘in’ or ink side wound ‘out’.

Printer core diameter: you need to ensure that the ribbon is designed for the inside core diameter of your printer brand, because some cores have special slots that fit in the ribbon feed mechanism.

Roll length: This equates to maximum roll diameter. All printers have a maximum roll diameter.

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