Ink Ribbon Buying Guide

Ink Ribbon Buying Guide

While laser printers and inkjet printers may have predominantly taken over the consumer market, printers that use ink ribbons still have a firm grip on the business world, particularly when it comes to industrial types of printing. Many small and large businesses, including retailers and manufacturers, use printers with ink ribbons on a daily basis. This guide will outline some of the various types of ink ribbon printers, as well as the types of ribbons that are needed for printing on those printers.

Types of Ink Ribbon Printers
Printers that use ink ribbons are not usually found in the homes of many consumers these days, but they can still be found in many office buildings, retail stores, and manufacturing facilities. The most common examples of ink ribbon printers include the following types: dot matrix and other types of impact printers, which are used in many offices where specific forms and documents are printed on duplicate or triplicate paper; cash registers and point of sale systems, which typically contain small thermal transfer printers used for printing receipts; and large thermal transfer printers, which are used for many industrial purposes, such as printing barcodes and labels for clothing.
Types of Ink Ribbons
In some cases, the different types of printers use entirely different types of ribbons . In other cases, the type of ribbon that should be used is determined by the type of printing task that is being done. As an example, a thermal transfer printer can use several different types of ink ribbon, but the type of ink ribbon that works best for printing clothing labels is different from the type of ink ribbon that would be used for printing price tags.

Dot Matrix Printer Ink Ribbons
Dot matrix printers use either cloth or plastic ink ribbons, depending on the model of the printer. These types of printers are often called impact printers because the printhead strikes the ribbon to transfer ink onto the paper. Although these printers were mostly phased out in the consumer market after inkjet and laser printers grew in popularity, they are still often found in many offices that do a high volume of label printing or a high volume of duplicate/triplicate form printing.

Cash Register and Point of Sale Ink Ribbons
Simple cash registers may contain small impact printers that use nylon ribbons for printing, but most modern, elaborate point of sale systems use small thermal transfer printers to print receipts, coupons, and other store-related items on special thermal paper for customers. Most of these systems use wax thermal ink ribbons, but some systems may use a wax / resin combination ink ribbons for greater durability.

Thermal Transfer Printer Ink Ribbons
Not surprisingly, thermal transfer printers use heat to, in essence, melt the ink and transfer it onto the printed medium. Durability needs can vary dramatically when it comes to items that are printed with thermal transfer printers, which is why there are three different types of ink that are made for these printers: wax thermal ink ribbons, wax/resin thermal ink ribbons, and resin thermal ink ribbons.

Wax Thermal Ink Ribbons
Wax thermal ink ribbons are primarily used for printing on paper products. The wax ink adheres to both matte and semi-gloss finishes and is designed to last without smudging for years. However, the ink has to be kept dry, and it cannot be subjected to scratching or rubbing. Chemicals and oils can also easily destroy the ink, and this includes the oils from skin. This type of ink will last for years only if the item that has been printed with it is tucked away in a dry location and is rarely handled, which is why it is most commonly used for printed items that are only intended to last for a short period of time.

Wax/Resin Thermal Ink Ribbons
Wax / resin combination ink ribbons contain ink with greater durability and longer life spans than their pure wax counterparts do. Because of the resin content, these inks are more resistant to chemicals, smudges, and scratches than wax ink is, which makes these ink ribbons much more appropriate for printing items that could potentially be exposed to a good deal of human contact. Wax/resin inks are still susceptible to water, however, and are not typically used on items that could be exposed to moisture.

Resin Thermal Ink Ribbons
Resin thermal ink ribbons produce the highest quality of the three types of thermal ink ribbons, as well as the most durable print of all of the types of thermal ink ribbons. These inks are extremely resistant to heat, chemicals, scratching, and many other environmental hazards. Because of their high level of durability, resin inks are typically used in industrial fields, such as manufacturing, but there are smaller scale business uses for them as well.
Common Uses of Ink Ribbons
The different types of ink ribbons outlined in the section above are each generally suitable for certain, specific uses and not for others. Some of the