Wax Ribbons for Thermal Transfer Printers

Wax Ribbons for Thermal Transfer Printers

Understand what wax ribbons are, what to look out for when you buy them and the advantages of using them. Read on to learn more.

First: thermal ink ribbons are used to melt an image onto the paper or plastic label that the thermal printer is printing to.  You need to use different thermal ink materials depending on the material the label or tag is made from.  Thermal ribbons are made from a mixture of wax and resin.  Wax is the cheapest material so ribbons made from wax are the lowest cost.  We supply a range of thermal ribbons with varying proportions of wax and resin.

Thermal ribbons come on cores
Thermal ribbon with a take up spool

All thermal ribbons come on cardboard (or plastic) cores to suit your printer.  The vary in diameter and width.  Some have a notch cut into them.  Some, pictured left come with a take up spool to wind printed material onto.

The ribbons vary in width and length, again depending on the model of printer they’re made for.  Desktop printers usually have ribbons less than 110m in length, so they’re smaller and fit inside smaller printers. The width of the ribbon is decided by the width of label or tag being printed.  Toshiba-TEC’s industrial printers use ribbons that are 600m long.Box of thermal transfer ribbons

Box quantities.  Ribbons are rarely sold individually.  Depending on the length or width of the ribbon they come in box quantities ranging from 6 to 24 rolls. Ask us the box quantity you’re after.

Here’s what you need to know about wax ribbons

  • Wax ribbons are the lowest cost, most popular thermal transfer ribbon for thermal transfer printers.
  • Suitable for printing onto paper or card.  Wax adheres well to matt or semi-gloss paper labels and tags.  Do not use it for gloss or plastic and other synthetic materials.
  • Not very durable.  Wax is the softest ribbon making it more vulnerable to smudging and scratching.
  • Wide range of colours available. Because wax ribbons are most widely used, ribbon manufacturers are willing to invest in producing a wider range of colour wax ribbons.  If you have a specific colour requirement then you are more likely to find it as a wax ribbon.

Coloured wax ribbons

  • Prints at low temperatures so your thermal printer darkness or heat settings can be kept low – leading to longer printhead life – and saving you money!
  • Wide range of sizes.  As before, with a large market of users, ribbon manufacturers are able to make a wider range of ribbon lengths and widths available.  When you have lots of ribbons widths to choose from you can find a ribbon that will suit the width of label or tag you’re printing.   As you pay for ribbon’s by the square metre, less waste means savings.
  • Won’t work in Near Edge printers.  Toshiba TEC and Avery have some near edge printers in their range.  Near edge printers are not very common.  To learn a little more about near edge printers see our post here.

Help with buying wax ribbons

Expert Labels have been supplying people with ribbons for their thermal printers for more than 20 years.  Over this time we’ve seen what ribbons work with what label materials.  Don’t buy your ribbons without calling us.  Let us help make your label printing a success.  Ask us for ribbon samples or send us over a sample of your labels for us to test.

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