How to choose the right ribbons for your labels


How to choose the right ribbons for your labels

Many of our customers don’t realise the importance of getting a good match between the ribbons and labels they use. Ink ribbons are different and don’t suit all label materials.

If you don’t get it right, your labels will look faint or too black, print will rub off and you could be in line for an expensive surprise when your printhead burns out months or years before it should. If you work with chemicals, the print disappears if splashed by chemical solvents.

A quick reminder:

A thermal printer melts an ink onto the surface of your labels or tags. Ink ribbons are coated with either wax or resin or most often a mixture of the two. Wax works well on matte paper, resin works best on plastic labels. Gloss labels look best when printed with inks coated in a mixture of wax and resin.

How to match your labels to ribbons.

1. The first things to do is check dimensions. A printer ribbon needs to be at least the width of the label, the label backing and a couple of millimeters each side. If you don’t, then part of the label or it’s backing will rub against the printhead, gradually wearing a section of the printhead out. You’ll be left with a white stripe on all your labels.

2. Secondly, make sure the ribbons will fit your printer. It’s no good buying ribbons which come on rolls bigger than your printer can fit. We’ve been doing this for 20 years so we know what to check. Phone us on 01359 271 111 or email

3. Test. Get sample ribbons (we can help you with samples) and print them through your printer. Try scratching off the print. If you’re using them with chemicals, try rubbing the text off with the chemicals. Try adjusting the printer darkness setting. Set it as low as possible to get an acceptable temperature. As a rule of thumb, wax ribbons can be printed at the lowest temperature or darkness setting, whilst a pure resin ribbon needs a high temperature or darkness setting.

Alternatively – send your label samples for us to test for you.

If you order labels then you need to make sure the ribbons you buy will look fantastic, not scratch or rub off and will keep your printhead cool.


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