How To Choose A Printer Ribbon

Zebra Wax Thermal Transfer Ribbons

Do you need to find a thermal transfer printer ribbon and don’t know where to start?

You have come to the right place! We can help you choose a printer ribbon that is right for your business!

We have over 30 years of experience and the printer ribbons to satisfy any label application.  As I wrote this blog, I realized how much the end user needs to know in order to choose the correct printer ribbon for their application.   It can be complex!

I will walk you through the process on what I have learned and what has worked best for my customers. Here is a little background on choosing printer ribbons.

Common Problems in Choosing the Correct Printer Ribbon

Did you know that there is actually a label ribbon marriage that takes place?  Your printer ribbons need to match the facestock/label material. When there is a compatibility problem between your labels and printer ribbons, problems result.

The problems could be:

  • Poor print quality
  • Poor abrasion resistance
  • Shorter printhead life
  • Using a more expensive ribbon that what is needed for the application

What you need to know in order to choose the correct printer ribbon

Here is a list of questions that need to be answered before you can choose a correct printer ribbon.  I like to start at the end of the labeling process and work backward:

  • What is the life expectancy of the label?  How long does the label need to last?
  • What label material are you using?  This basically falls into three parts: paper, polypropylene or polyester.
  • What is the product or substrate you are applying the label to?
  • What is the level of abrasion resistance that is needed for the application?
  • Will anything come in contact with the labels after printing?  Think of your products during the shipping process and if the labels will rub together.
  • How crisp/legible do you need the text and bar codes?
  • What is the size of the label(s)? The ribbon needs to be wider than the label stock. The ribbon has a backcoating with a lubricant to help protect the printhead.  If the labels and/or liner is exposed to the printhead it will cause premature damage that cannot be repaired.
  • The last question that you need to know is what type of printer you are using.  This is broken down into two sections.
    • One: The model:
      • Industrial: Large printer heavy duty, full length rolls of labels and printer ribbons
      • Desk Top: Medium size light duty cycle, shorter length rolls of labels and printer ribbons.
      • Mobile: Light duty, very short lengths of labels and printer ribbons.
    • Two: What style of printhead your printer uses.
      • Flathead: I would say 95% of the label printers in use today are using a flathead printhead.  Examples would be Zebra, Honeywell, Sato and Intermec, to name a few.
      • Near-Edge: There are several companies that offer a near-edge printhead label printer like Avery, TEC, SourceTech but most of the near-edge printers are found in the flexible packaging environment and they are called thermal transfer overprinter (TTO)

Next Steps

Once these questions are answered, the next task is to find a high quality printer ribbon that meets your needs.  PaladinID only supplies high quality ribbons. Our printer ribbons on most applications will double the manufacturers printhead life warranty.

We even guarantee it.

Over the years, it is hard to believe how many applications I have come across where the ribbons we not spec’ed properly and either the printer ribbon was overkill, thus causing the customer more money, or the ribbon under performed and caused issues down the line.  In both scenarios, the label printing process was not as efficient as it could it could have been–wasting time and money.

I have learned that product label printing should be effortless. When there is a problem it is a BIG DEAL. Products do not ship and the whole manufacturing process comes to a screeching halt. If you don’t know your labels and ribbons, know someone who does.

Still not sure on what to do? Give us a call to discuss. We are always happy to discuss label and printer ribbon applications.  Your call is free, our knowledge is priceless.

Send us an email or call 888.9725234

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

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“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 barcode 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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We sell and support: Direct/thermal transfer, Inkjet, Laser

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We sell ribbons for ALL barcode printers including: Zebra, Datamax, Sato, Intermec

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We offer a wide variety of packaging containers for your products.

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