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Resin Ribbon vs Wax ribbon: Which is the best thermal transfer ribbon?

Resin Ribbon vs Wax ribbon: Which is the best thermal transfer ribbon?

Ribbons are used for thermal transfer printing. With widespread use of RFID in businesses now, tags and labels are being printed and used extensively not to mention QR codes and barcodes which are equally used for various other needs.

RFID tags and labels, QR codes, and barcodes are attached to assets; contain important information about the assets which is read by RFID Readers or mobile and barcode scanners respectively.


Ribbons that are used in Thermal transfer printing are generally of three types-

•   Resin ribbons,

•   Wax ribbons, and

•   Wax-resin ribbons.



What is the difference between wax and resin ribbons?

Resin ribbons are known for long durability against abrasion and harsh environmental conditions like rain, snow, and heat.

The printing done using Resin ribbons is safe and smear proof while Wax ribbons are used for materials which usually have short lives. The printing done using wax ribbons gets damaged easily. Chemical exposure also affects this type of printing easily. Printing done using wax ribbons is prone to smear and smudges.

Wax resin ribbons are also available which are made of half wax and half resins and offer great versatility in terms of printing needs. These ribbons are a tad bit costly than wax ribbons (which account for 70% of all TTR used), but the benefits far outweigh the cost.

These ribbons can almost print on all kinds of substrate and used widely.



What is resin ribbon used for?

Resin ribbons are mostly used for printing RFID labels and tags. Since a resin ribbon is compatible with most of the material labels are made of like polyester, polypropylene, poly ethylene etc, it costs more.

High cost involved also limits its use. Many businesses go for cheap alternatives like wax ribbons.

Resin ribbons, though expensive, can withstand harsh environmental and physical condition and chemical exposure as well.

Resin ribbons are used for printing on non-tearable materials, on which wax ribbons or wax resin ribbons don’t work properly.



How do you use wax ribbon?

 Wax ribbons although most economical in cost, require great care in handling as the printing done using wax ribbon gets damaged easily.

 In thermal transfer printers wax ribbons are used for printing, mostly on materials which have short lives. 

A TTR (thermal transfer ribbon) such as wax TTR is put under printing head with the label and the digital elements on the printing head is heated and cooled rapidly which in turn transfers the ink off the ribbon to the label.

Which ribbon (TTR) you choose typically depends on your needs and applications as many printing combinations are available specific to certain requirements.

In contrast to direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers don’t come in touch with the substrate directly. Direct thermal printers rely on a heating element to make the image on the material.



Applications of wax ribbons:

Wax ribbons are widely used when the need for the sticker/label is short hence shipping and postal services use this to print bar codes and QR codes as well. Restaurants and cafes also use wax ribbons to print QR codes for promotion and specials (menus).



To sum up:

Resin ribbons are used when the printing needs to last longer like on RFID labels that last long, are washed, or exposed to harsh environment.

Wax ribbons are used for short term printing like on QR code stickers, barcodes, and labels that don’t need to last long. Wax ribbons are cost friendly and do the job well.


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Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Jan 18, 2023

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