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What Ribbon Do I Need?

Lets Start By Getting To Know Your Printer.

Label printers come in various makes and models giving a lot of options for you to choose from when picking out the perfect one. Similar to buying a new car, each brand and model has different capabilities that make that printer just the right fit for the owners needs. Two of the most popular types of label technologies are: Thermal and Laser Printers.


Out of these two types of printers, the thermal printer is a popular choice amongst our fellow “labelers” as it provides a quick, easy, and cost-effective solution to label printing. Thermal printers are excellent for shipping and barcoding as they create high quality and clearly defined images yielding optimal readability. 

To break this down further, there are two types of thermal printers: Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal. 

Thermal transfer printers require a heat-sensitive carbon ribbon which applies the melted ribbon directly to the label to create a dark, clear text or image. 

Direct thermal printers use material with the ink already coated onto it, so a ribbon is not needed. The printer will heat up the label, activating the ink causing a color change which then gives a nice picture left behind. 

For the purposes of finding the proper ribbon for you, we will focus on thermal transfer printers now! If you are using a laser or direct thermal printer, you can skip the rest and check out our compatible labels now!

There are many barcode printer brands to choose from to get the durable, clearly printed label you are desiring. Four of the most popular barcode printing brands are listed below. Click on the brand to see the compatible ribbons we offer!

Now Let's Get To Know Your Label.

There are several different types of labels that work well with thermal transfer printers: Thermal Transfer Paper (TTP) , Thermal Transfer Tag (TTT), PolyMatte (TT), Thermal Transfer Vinyl (TTV), Gloss Polyester (TTPO), and Poly Gloss (PGT). This can be broken down into three broader categories of paper labels, synthetic labels, and tag. 

Thermal Transfer Paper is a cost-effective option for a clear, readable barcode or for shipping labels. We offer these labels in fanfold or rolls in many different sizes. 

The Synthetic Thermal Transfer Labels we offer include our signature PolyMatte (TT) Labels, Thermal Transfer Vinyl (TTV), Gloss Polyester (TTPO), Thermal Transfer Matte Polyester (PET) and Poly Gloss (TT). These labels are a great fit for durable, weather/tear/heat-resistant requirements. 

Thermal Transfer Tag Stock is a great solution for packaging, returnable containers, and part identification methods using a plastic retainer pouch. This product does not contain an adhesive.

What Is The Size of Your Label?

The size of your label is the final piece we will need to establish the proper ribbon for you! Our label sizes are always listed with the width first, following the length. Therefore, a 4 x 6″ thermal transfer paper label would come off the roll as pictured to the right. A 6 x 4″ thermal transfer paper label would come off with the 6″ width and 4″ length, giving a shorter and wider label. 

The label size is important when selecting the proper ribbon so you have a ribbon wide enough to cover the surface of your label when you are printing. You will want to assure that the width of your ribbon is slightly larger than your label width. For example, if you have a 4″ wide label, a 4.33″ wide ribbon would work great!