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Barcode Ribbons


Barcode Thermal Ribbons | Thermal Transfer Ribbons for Barcode Printers

Thermal transfer printers use a heated printhead and an ink-coated thermal transfer ribbon to produce a label or barcode. While colored thermal transfer ribbons are available, black is the most common type of thermal transfer ribbon.

Optimedia Labs sells a large selection of thermal transfer ribbons for Zebra, Datamax, GoDEX, Intermec, Printronix, SATO, Toshiba, TSC and many other thermal transfer printers. These printers are popular for printing shipping labels, shipping documents, inventory labels, asset labels, and other industrial labels requiring barcodes. In order to be read by a barcode scanner, the barcode should be printed using crisp, high contrast materials with black on white thermal transfer ribbons being the most common.

Thus, most thermal transfer ribbons are formulated with black ink. The richness and durability of the black ink are also important factors. Thermal transfer ribbons come in the following basic formulations:

  • Wax thermal transfer ribbons — These are the most affordable, general purpose barcode and thermal transfer ribbons available. They are best for short-term applications like packing slips and shipping labels as they lack the deeper blacks and enhanced durability of wax-resin and resin barcode ribbons.
  • Wax-resin thermal transfer ribbons — With a composite wax-resin formula, wax-resin ribbons offer crisper blacks and better durability than wax barcode ribbons.
  • Resin thermal transfer ribbons — Resin formulas offer the greatest durability of barcode ribbon types, making the well suited for chemical and GHS labeling applications.

When buying thermal transfer ribbons, it’s important to know:

  • Whether the ink side faces IN or OUT
  • The desired ink formulation (Wax, Resin, Wax-Resin, Resin Enhanced Wax, Ultra Durable Resin, etc.)
  • Your printer’s recommended core size
  • Desired width (needs to be wider then the label)

Many businesses use thermal transfer printers to print shipping labels, logistics and transportation labels, barcodes, carton labels, tickets, name badges, identification labels, and more. Depending on the application, it’s desirable to choose a thermal transfer ribbon with the desired properties which include color (for example, black is common for shipping labels and barcodes while red thermal transfer ribbons may be used for warning and safety labels), durability, and resistance to water, oil, UV light, abrasions, or chemicals.

Not Sure Which Type Of Thermal Transfer Ribbons You Need For Your Printer?

If you’re not sure whether your printer requires the ink side to face in or out or what size barcode ribbon you should order, let us know the make and model of the printer along with the label size and type you are printing. Our label specialists will be happy to identify the best thermal transfer ribbons for your printer and use case as well as send you a sample thermal transfer ribbon to test before you buy it.

In general, wax thermal transfer ribbons are the cheapest. They’re good for general purpose labels that do not require extended durability. On the other end of the spectrum, resin ribbons offer the best durability and can be used for your most demanding applications including GHS / BS5609 chemical labels and barcodes.

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