Barcode Ribbon Samples

Do You Know Your Thermal Transfer Ribbons?

Real World Product Labeling SolutionsProduct Spotlight for February 17, 2019

Coated Side In vs. Coated Side Out

Did you know that when it comes to thermal transfer ribbons, you only have two choices in terms of wind? You have to choose either coated side out or coated side in. This pertains to the way the ribbons unwinds from the roll.

Do you know which one you are currently using?  What about the printer model or manufacturer?


Zebra Technology is the only thermal transfer bar code printer company who exclusively uses what we call a coated side out (CSO) ribbon configuration (see picture below).

PaladinID Coated Side Out Thermal Transfer Ribbons

CSO (Coated Side Out)

All of the other thermal transfer printer manufacturers utilize a coated side in (CSI) ribbon configuration (see picture below). There are several printer manufacturers that offer models other than Zebra that uses a CSI (coated side in).

PaladinID Coated Side Out Thermal Transfer Ribbons

CSI (Coated Side In)

How to tell the difference in your thermal transfer ribbons

How can you tell what side of the ribbon faces up or down depending on your perspective?  As you load the ribbon into the printer, you will see that one side is shiny and the other side has a dull matte finish.  The duller side of the ribbon is where the thermal transfer ink is located. Another trick is to take a label and stick it to one side of the ribbon.  If the ink comes off, you know that is the ink side. The ink side of the ribbon must always face down to the labels.

Thermal printing uses heat technology to printer and it’s one of the most popular label printing methods on the market today.  I have often said that using a thermal transfer printer to print labels is like using a hammer to pound a nail. It is just the perfect tool for printing labels.

In fact, that is all a thermal transfer printer was designed to do, print labels.

Some different types of transfer ribbons you could use:

  • General purpose wax thermal transfer ribbons
  • Premium wax thermal transfer ribbons
  • Wax/resin thermal transfer ribbons
  • Resin thermal transfer ribbons

“Making companies more competitive by offering the correct label printing solution, on time, within budget, while creating unmatched value”.

About PaladinID, LLC
PaladinID develops and supports high-performance bar code labeling applications. We work with our clients to “Make Your Mark” by providing the expertise and tools necessary to create an entire product label printing solution. Located in central New Hampshire, PaladinID has been serving Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New England, and beyond for over 30 years, and in 2017, became an RFID-certified company. We look forward to working with you.

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