Bar Code Printer Ribbons
Realstar has the right ribbons for almost every thermal transfer printer. Great service and most popular ribbons available "off the shelf" enables Realstar to fill many orders the same business day.
Realstar is ready to meet all your needs for:
Wax: Inexpensive media suitable for many indoor applications.
Resin: Reliable in most every environment.
Zebra/Eltron: Barcode Printer Labels
Cognitive: Barcode Printer Labels
Thermal Transfer Ribbons Primer
Thermal transfer ribbons are typically made with pigment-based colorants that are mixed within a coating applied to one side of the polyester based ribbon. Thermal transfer ink coatings usually contain one or more fusible substances (i.e. waxes and/or fusible synthetic materials), a coloring substance, color pigments, and varying additives. Carbon black is the most desirable pigment in black ribbons. Carbon black is a very light-stable pigment. Images produced with carbon-black based colorant will not fade readily when exposed to either indoor or outdoor UV light.
With the advent of colored ribbon use, more and more thermal transfer printed bar codes are being printed in color. This can potentially cause a problem due to the contrast ratio requirement of bar code scanners. Acceptable combinations include: black, blue, green, and dark brown ribbon images on white, yellow, or red colored substrates. Other combinations may result in poor contrast ratio and unreadable bar codes. As with other printing colorants, blue and green colors are more stable when exposed to UV light than yellow, red and orange colorants.
Types of Ribbons
There are three types of thermal transfer ribbons. Each type of ribbon has a range of grades providing different levels of suitability with substrates. These materials contribute to the melting point of ribbons that affect the amount of energy necessary to print. Confer with a Realstar representative to determine the specific suitability of each particular ribbon available to you. It is crucial that the ribbon used is compatible with the properties, both chemical and physical, of the substrate surface. The following lists general guidelines about ribbon suitability and performance:
ribbons typically contain a high percentage of wax-based materials in
the colorant substance. Since waxes generally have lower melting points
than resins, printing with wax ribbons typically requires less energy
than printing with wax/resin or resin ribbons. Since most waxes used
tend to be softer than resins used, image durability is typically less
with wax ribbons than wax/resign or resin ribbons. Most wax ribbons are
made with only one colorant layer.
Wax/resin combination ribbons usually have a higher percentage of resin materials. Resin content contributes to a higher melting point of the ribbons. Printing with these ribbons requires more energy than printing with wax ribbons. Since resins are harder than waxes, image durability and chemical resistance for wax/resin ribbons better than that of wax ribbons. Wax/resin ribbons are usually made up of two or more layers. These ribbons are most suitable with matte coated and gloss coated paper and synthetic including polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester films. Wax/resin images will perform satisfactorily where moderate scratch, abrasion resistance, or mild chemical durability is required. Wax/resin combination ribbons have a print speed range of 8 to 12 inches per second. They should be considered for use in all of the applications in which wax ribbons are used as well as outdoor applications such as lumber and nursery tags. Wax/resin combination ribbons are midrange price ribbons.
Resin ribbons contain the highest percentage of resin materials. Most resin ribbons are made of two or more layers. Printing with resin ribbons requires more energy than printing with other ribbons. Most resin ribbons work best within a maximum print speed of 6 inches per second. Since resins are harder than waxes, resin images have excellent abrasion, scuffing, heat, and chemical resistance. They provide the best performance in harsh environmental conditions. They are best suited for use with gloss-coated materials. Resin ribbons are best for retail applications, textile/apparel uses, tags and labels used outdoors (i.e. lumber and nursery applications), chemical exposure uses (i.e. drum labels), medical and pharmaceutical labeling, as well as industrial and automotive applications. Resin ribbons are the most expensive of thermal transfer ribbons.
Thermal transfer ribbons perform differently with true edge, corner edge, near edge and flat-type print heads due to different peel-off times. This can impact printing performance. Furthermore, different ribbons may perform at different print speeds. This can be a critical issue, particularly in high demand environments.