Terminology for Thermal Transfer Products

Glossary for thermal transfer products, including thermal transfer printing, thermal transfer ribbon, wax ribbon, wax-resin ribbon, resin ribbon, hot stamping foil etc.

Thermal Transfer Printing

Thermal-transfer printing is a fast and clean digital printing method with no warm-up or cooling time required. During the print process, material is applied to paper or some other medium by melting a coating of ribbon so that it stays glued to the receiving material on which the print is applied. Thermal transfer printing is the standard for producing variables data such as barcodes and expiry dates etc., on-demand.

Thermal Transfer Ribbon

Thermal transfer ribbon is basically a roll of clear polyester (PET) film coated on one side with a colored pigment, or ink. The coating of the ribbon can be formulated using either wax, a mixture of wax and resin or pure resin. When the thermal transfer ribbon passes over the thermal print head, the heat produced by the print head causes the pigment or ink to transfer off the carrier film and bond to the label.  As the manufacturer of thermal transfer ribbon, International Media Products (IMP) carries all three kinds of ribbons in our headquarter at Alpharetta, Georgia and Los Angeles, California. 

Wax Ribbon

The ink component of thermal transfer ribbon is formulated with wax. Wax ribbon is designed for printing onto paper labels, but please note that they must be kept in a dry environment, not subjected to chemicals or oil that would dissolve the wax image.

Wax-resin Ribbon

The ink component of thermal transfer ribbon is formulated with a mixture of wax and resin. Resins provide the ribbon with excellent mechanical properties, but do not limit the printing speed or receptor compatibility. Wax-resin ribbons produce a finer image when paired with smooth paper or coated paper labels. Wax-resin is much more durable than wax, but should still avoid contact with water.

Resin Ribbon

The ink component of thermal transfer ribbon is formulated with a mixture of pure resin. Pure resin ribbons are formulated to print onto plastic labels such as polyester and vinyl. Resin is designed to slightly dissolve into plastic surfaces, thus allowing it to become durable.

Hot Stamping Foil

Hot stamping foil is a printing process of using heat and pressure to apply metallic foil to materials such as light papers, carton board, laminated board, plastics and corrugated board.