Applications that utilize a thermal transfer barcode ribbon of this quality are considered mid-range applications and they are very common, but it can be difficult to know when or how to choose the right wax/resin ribbons for any particular application.
To clarify the types of barcode ribbon available a quick review is in order. Ribbon comes in three main substrates. First is a Wax and this is the most common. Second is Wax/Resin which is a bit more durable. And the third is a full Resin which is the most durable. The key is to understand when to use which formula.
Wax/resin is used for printed images that must withstand multiple scans or outdoor elements. The image may be subjected to rough handling and possible contact with mild chemicals. Wax/resin is also commonly used for printing variable information on pre-printed labels.
Even when you understand that a wax/resin ribbon is required, there are still options within that category. It is important to understand the substrate and intended application. Reasons for choosing a wax/resin ribbon include the need for a lasting image, excellent smudge and scratch resistance, possible exposure to UV or mild chemicals, and UL requirements.
What is the stock you will be printing on?
If the surface is rough, uncoated, or has a matte finish – a formula with PM308 wax/resin will work well. If the surface of the label is smooth with a semi-gloss or a glossy finish then a formula with Prime Mark would be recommended.
Highly engineered labels require the right combination of ribbon, face stock, adhesive and liner to meet the demands of the application. Print quality and durability of the thermal transfer image varies based on the label type. If the face stock is a paper like Fasson tt1c, Raflacoat, or Vellum then the recommended formula is the PM308 wax/resin. If the label material is Polyethylene, Bopp Polypropylene like Valeron, or VMAX, then Prime Mark is the recommended formula. Label materials like Kimdura, or Polyart are synthetic papers that can use either.
Generally, a full resin thermal transfer ribbon is recommended for polyester materials. Wax/resin may print on this material, but you must test this in the application to assure that it will be durable enough.
So, if you are confused, make sure you ask these questions:
- What type of application will the ribbon be used for?
- Is the label exposed to conditions not suitable for wax?
Prolonged exposure to weather or sunlight
Excessive or rough handling
Mild chemicals, occasional contact
- What is the label finish and size? Ribbon should be 2-4 mm wider than the label.
- Printer make, model and print speed?
Other things to consider with this thermal transfer ribbon are if UL and CSA is required. If this is the case, the Prime Mark is certified to work and can be found under these UL documents with Avery Fasson: UL MH17205, MH27538, MH7834 • CSA 97198, FLEXcon: UL MH16635, CSA 99214, and 3M: MH16411
Other compliances for the Prime Mark include: REACH – SVHC Free, RoHS/WEEE, TSCA, CONEG, California Proposition 65, and ISEGA Food Approval.
When wax will not perform on a given substrate or stock, and when image reliability and durability become important, your choice should be a wax/resin ribbon.
Let us help you locate the best thermal transfer ribbon, ask the right questions, and make the match to the right label material for your application. Call 847-235-2700 today.
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