• Overview

  • Parts of Thermal Transfer Ribbon

  • Ribbon Type

  • Ribbon Material

Parts of Thermal Transfer Ribbon

A thermal transfer ribbon is heat- sensitive carbon ribbon. Then, the ribbon is melted onto a label. This process transfers the ink onto the material, forming the image or words on the labels. These make the ribbons less likely to fade or become scratched. There are many types of materials to consider in choosing the right thermal transfer ribbon. But before doing so, it’s best to know the parts of the ribbon, too. There are four main parts in a thermal transfer ribbon. 


This layer is either made from wax, wax-resin or resin. And it is the part that is transferred onto the material during the printing process. The material used for the ink determines the resistance of the label to the environment. 


Enables a better release of ink from the base PET film. 

Base PET film

This layer allows the heat transfer from the thermal head to the ink. 

Back Layer

The back shields the base PET film and thermal head. It also reduces static electricity issues and improves ribbon passage through the printer. 

Choosing the Thermal Transfer Ribbon

Thermal Transfer Ribbon Type

Ribbon type is very important to note. Some thermal transfer printers can only take one style. Coating Side In (CSI) and Coating Side Out (CSO) refers to where the ink coating is placed. 

Coated Side In

Coated side in ribbons have the ink facing inside.This means that the ribbon unrolls from the top before making contact with the print-head and label. 

Coated Side Out

Coated side out ribbons have the ink facing outside. This type of ribbon unrolls from the bottom before making contact with the print-head and label. 

Thermal Transfer Ribbon Material

The ribbon material determines the strength and durability of your label. This also ensures that your labels are readable, scannable and reliable.  


Wax is the most affordable type of ribbon. It is ideal for use in shipping and retail labels. However, the material results in light printing. It is more affordable, but less durable. Yet, it is still the most common type of ribbon. Aside from shipping and retail, it is also recommended for short term or indoor use. Further, it is useful warehouse labels for shelves and bins. 


Wax-resin is more durable than wax. As such, it protects against scratching, abrasion and moisture. The transfer creates clear and sharp images on various materials. They are the perfect choice for constant handling and cold temperatures. Additionally, the wax-resin is a good choice for barcodes and pharmaceutical labels. 


Resin melts at higher temperatures resulting in extreme durability. So, this ribbons are good for chemicals, automotives, textiles and flexible packaging. They can also stand long-term use, temperature changes and UV exposure. 

There are many things to consider when choosing the right thermal transfer ribbon. Labels are an important part of any business or warehouse. Therefore, it is important to have as much information as possible when making your decision. For more knowledge about thermal transfer ribbons and warehouse labels, contact Qbasis today!