Thermal Transfer Ribbons – Application Guide

For any durable label application, both print quality and resistance of the printed image when exposed to chemicals and abrasion is essential.  In most cases the base label material is identified first as it needs to fulfil its key objective, e.g. a Polyimide material for PCB serial number labels, required to withstand the SMT reflow or direct wave processes.

The ribbon choice however is more complex and the range of thermal transfer ribbons is vast therefore in order to achieve the best printed label result it’s important to select an optimum thermal transfer ribbon suitable for the label material, the application and for the thermal transfer label printer itself. Given that a typical manufactured product could be using any or all the label types listed below we also need to consider ribbons that can provide flexibility by offering high quality printing across a wide range of materials and applications.

For this reason Link Hamson has selected some key performance ribbons ideal for the electronics manufacturing industry:-

For versatility our RHT40 is a clear winner and our most popular resin ribbon. It’s suitable for use with all our key materials; high temperature polyimide, white polyester, metallised polyester and also our vinyl cable making label materials and offers good performance on our coated and standard paper label materials too. It is also available to suit all the major thermal transfer printers such as SATO, Zebra, GoDEX, cab, Brady, Honeywell, TSC, TEC, and many others. It’s simply the most cost effective single ribbon solution for thermal transfer printing across our range.

For maximum solvent resistance our 140 or 104 ribbons can be used with polyimide and polyester label materials for use through the PCB cleaning process even with high density barcodes, we recommend testing to find the best solution for you own application.

For maximum durability our 181 ribbon combined with our HD (high durability white or high durability metallised polyester) label materials offers an ultra-high durable label solution for very harsh environments. These are very specialist products designed for harsh environments, when nothing else works – please contact us if you need this solution as the materials are not suitable for all printers.


Applications Label Materials

Durability and Cost >>>>>>>>>>>>>




V. High

Premium Wax





PCB Serial, Barcode Label

Polyimide, Polyester

Component Label

Polyimide, Polyester

Rating Label


Product Labelling


Harsh Environment Label High Durability Polyester

CSA Approval, UL/MIL also


Tamper Evident Label


Cable Marking Label


Packing and Carton Label


Packing and Carton Label


All our ribbons offer excellent print contrast against our thermal transfer label materials which makes them perfect for both standard barcode applications (e.g. Code39 or Code128) and also 2D barcodes (e.g. Data Matrix, Aztec, QR, Micro QR or Micro PDF417).