Thermal ribbons come in three main materials: wax, waxresin, and resin.
These ribbons are available in a variety of colors, though black is most popular. Thermal transfer ribbons are made to print onto paper as well as synthetic label materials, and to outlast direct thermal printing when exposed to light, heat or chemicals.
Wax ribbons are best for printing on paper labels that need to last and abstain from moisture, oils or other chemicals that would dissolve the wax image. These barcode ribbons are commonly used for printing shipping labels, carton labels, and retail bags. They work well in high speed printers.
Waxresin ribbons are more durable than wax ribbons against water and chemicals, and create a finer image on smooth, coated paper, synthetic, or colored labels. The increased resin in these barcode ribbons makes them smudge and smearproof.
Pure resin ribbons work best with synthetic label materials and are extremely durable against chemicals or heat. In addition to being waterproof, these barcode ribbons are grease, chemical, and solvent resistant. Resin ribbons must be used with polyester and synthetic labels.