top of page

What exactly is a Thermal Transfer Ribbon ?

Thermal Transfer Ribbons are comprised of a polyester base film (PET) which is coated with a wax-base ink, a resin-base ink or a combination of wax and resin. The application and environmental conditions will ultimately determine what type of Thermal Transfer Ribbon is required. The non-ink side of the ribbon, called the backcoating is generally made of an antistatic compound that also serves as a lubricant. The back coating comes in direct contact with the Print Head and enhances the Thermal Transfer Printing process by preventing wear and tear to the Print Head.

Example of a ribbon assembly

Printhead ~ 300ºC

Melting ~ 190ºC

Antistatic Back Coat

PET Film 4.5µm

Release Layer

Ink Layer

Printed Substrate

How it works

Each printer uses a self-contained print head. As the ribbon passes between the printhead and the substrate, the wires are turned on and off to melt the wax, resin or wax/resin based ink off of the polyester coating to transfer the image onto the substrate.

A leader tape precedes the imaging components, while a trailer tape may or may not appear at the end of the roll. Requirements for this process are a Thermal Transfer Printer, Thermal Transfer Ribbons, Label material and software.

We advise to always conduct own tests to ensure the right ribbon choice for the proposed prints

Uses for Thermal Transfer Ribbons

include but are not limited to

Bar-Codes and Products Labelling

Automotive / Aircraft Parts

Shelf Edges / Pallets

Synthetic Care Labels

Agriculture / Horticulture

Chemical Containers

Healthcare Wristbands

I.D. Cards


Which Ribbon to choose?

The choice of the ribbon depends on the substrate to print onto. As a rule of thumb...


...the  Wax TTR Ribbon

for all paper stock the first choice - popular and inexpensive with limited smudge resistance.


...the Wax-Resin TTR Ribbon

for glossy and semi-gloss substrates - universal, medium priced, durable and smudge resistant.


...the Resin TTR Ribbon

best for filmic substrates and special prints - most durable, scratch, heat and chemical resistant.

For further information and a full catalogue
of our products please vist the download page here
Thermal Transfer Ribbons, TTR, Termo Transfer Folien
bottom of page