Types of termal transfer ribbons

Thermal transfer printers work by applying heat to a ribbon made of wax or resin-based ink. The heat applied by the thermal printhead melts that wax or resin onto the paper or label surface, creating your printed image

Finding the right printing ribbon can be an important step in ensuring your labels are scannable, readable, and reliable. There are three categories available, each serving a different purpose. They are: full wax, wax/resin, and full resin.


Resin-Enhanced Wax Thermal Transfer Ribbons (Full Wax)

A full wax thermal transfer ribbon is coated with a wax-based ink, requiring a low melting temperature.


  • Most common type of thermal transfer ribbon
  • Recommended for coated and uncoated paper stock
  • Softer image durability
  • Inexpensive
  • Good for shipping, shelf, bin, retail, and warehouse labels



Durable Wax-Resin Thermal Transfer Ribbons (Wax-Resin)

The hybrid of wax and resin-based thermal transfer ribbons have a melting temperature between that of full wax and full resin ribbons. They create sharp and clear images on a wide range of material types.


  • Ideal for both standard and weatherproof thermal transfer labels
  • More resistant to occasional heavy handling, moisture, and temperature changes
  • Intermediate price
  • Good for barcode, shipping, prescription pharmaceutical, and shelf labels


Full Resin Thermal Transfer Ribbons

Full resin thermal transfer ribbons are made of pure resin. They melt at a much higher temperature, dissolving into the material on which they're printed, resulting in extreme durability.


  • Most expensive ribbon type
  • For use on non-paper, synthetic stocks
  • Most durable of the ribbon types
  • Good for labeling very sensitive medical applications and chemicals, textile or garment labels, automotive labels, and flexible packaging