Find the right ribbon for your thermal ribbon

How to select the right ribbon

Thermal transfer ribbons come in many ink formulations, and choosing the wrong one can result in useless labels. Print quality can be poor, the ink can smear or fade, and choosing the wrong ribbon can force operators to reduce the speed of their printers.

The proper ribbon formulation depends on the material being printing on. If you would like help choosing a label material, visit our label design considerations page.

There are three types of ribbon ink: wax, wax/resin, and resin.

Heat Resistance
Label Stock Compatibility Typical Applications
Wax  Poor Versatile; typically coated paper
Short term; shipping labels, compliance labeling
Good Versatile; typically coated paper or coated synthetics
Bin location labels, horticulture tags, healthcare labels
Great Polyester, polyimide, polypropylene, polyethylene
Chemical drum labels, circuit board labels, agency recognized labels

Most thermal print is only black, but there are color ribbons available, including metallic inks.

Visit SATO’s Thermal Ribbon page to learn more.

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