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Thermal transfer ribbon come in three main types.

Thermal transfer ribbons come in three main types - wax, wax-resin or pure resin and are almost always black (other colors sometimes used are red and blue). These different types are made to print onto different label materials and are used when the life of the label needs to be long or the labels needs to survive harsh environments. Wax ribbons are for printing onto paper labels, where the life of the label can be years but must be kept dry and must not be abraded or subjected to certain chemicals or oil, which would melt the wax image. Wax-resin ribbons product a finer image on very smooth paper or coated paper labels. The printed image is much more durable than wax, but can still only stand slight contact with water. Finally pure resin ribbons are formulated to print onto plastic labels such as polyester, polypropylene and vinyl.

The "ink" is designed to slightly dissolve into or adhere to the plastic surface of the label and becomes extremely durable, depending on the plastic material and ribbon make used. Most printer manufacturers offer ribbon/label combinations which are known to work well together, which is particularly important as some combinations produce no image at all. Plastic labels with resin ribbons will survive outside in full sunlight, can stand immersion in water and may be resistant to chemicals and oils dependent on type. Often used in Automotive and Aircraft parts manufacture, any items stored outside and essential for the labelling of hazardous chemicals which must remain identifiable, for example, after being submerged in sea water for extended periods. According to the company, the new wax-resin ribbons were specially developed for use with QuickLabel Systems brand multi-color thermal transfer label printers.

The new wax-resin ribbons also produce high quality printing when used with other brands of monochrome thermal transfer printers. QuickLabel Systems' wax-resin ribbon line is the direct result of collaboration between its Media R&D and its Printer R&D groups. While most wax-resin ribbons in the industry are used in barcode printing applications, QuickLabel Systems' wax-resin ribbons are designed for printing multi-color labels for primary display packaging in addition to single-color supply chain and logistics labels. QuickLabel Systems multi-color printers are often used in retail display labeling of foods and beverages, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products. Thermal transfer printing has been around for several years. When it comes to printing basic shipping labels or product identification labels, a wax ribbon will do the trick. The consumer can get overwhelmed with the selection of thermal transfer wax ribbons the market has to offer. Printer manufacturers sell their ribbons and sometimes tell the customer that they will not guarantee the life of their print heads if they don't use their ribbons and labels. To me, this is like Toyota saying that they won't warranty your vehicle if you don't purchase tires from Toyota. The customer has a right to choice and should not be "golden handcuffed" into purchasing ribbons from the manufacturer.


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