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What is the difference between wax, wax/resin and resin thermal transfer ribbons?

12 February 2019  |  Admin

When choosing which Zebra ribbons to use in your printer, the large choice is often daunting. From type to model, Zebra produce a wide range of different quality printing - from which you can find the suitable ribbon for your business needs. 

The first choice to establish is what kind of ribbon - wax, wax/resin or resin. 

Wax ribbons are the lowest cost choice, they are ideal for general label applications such as address labels. However, wax ribbons are the softest ribbons making them vulnerable to smudging and scratching.

Wax/resin ribbons are suitable if you are printing onto semi-gloss paper or synthetic labels, they combine wax and resin to make the ribbons smudge and smear resistant.

Resin ribbons are the hardest type of ribbon, being scratch and chemical resistant. Resin ribbons are the best choice for printing onto synthetic labels which will be going into harsh environments where the print needs to be resistant against scratching, smearing, liquid, chemicals and extreme temperatures. 

The next decision to make is the model of Zebra ribbons - Zebra ribbons come in the following models - each of which are slightly different. Read our following descriptions to find a model to suit your needs:


A pure wax ribbon featuring excellent print quality on a wide range of coated and uncoated papers. Print speeds of up to 250mm/sec (10ips) can be achieved on Zebra label material. The 2300 ribbon is a perfect low-cost choice for general-purpose label printing. 


A resin-enhanced wax ribbon featuring excellent print quality on a wide range of coated and uncoated papers. Print speeds of up to 300mm/sec (12ips) can be achieved. Superb small-font printability and also offers superior abrasion resistance.


Image of Zebra wax ribbon


A high-performance wax/resin ribbon featuring excellent print quality on Zebra coated and uncoated papers as well as many matte synthetics. Print speeds of up to 200mm/sec (8ips) can be achieved even with rotated barcodes.


A premium wax/resin ribbon which provides excellent print quality on a wide range of Zebra paper and synthetic materials. 3200 offers very good resistance to scratches, smears, everyday chemicals and higher temperatures, along with the ability to print at up to 250mm per second. UL and CSA recognised with various Zebra materials.


Image of Zebra wax/resin ribbon


A high-quality resin ribbon featuring excellent print quality, particularly suitable for printing dense barcodes and high-resolution graphis. Print speeds of up to 150mm/sec (6ips) can be achieved using Zebra labels. 4800 resin ribbons also offers excellent resistance to abrasion and chemicals. 


A premium resin ribbon featuring excellent print quality and durability in the harshest applications. Print speeds of up to 150mm/sec (6ips) can be achieved using Zebra synthetics. Zebra 5100 resin ribbons offers excellent resistance to extreme temperatures, chemicals and solvents, and is UL and CSA-recognised with select Zebra materials. 


A high performance resin ribbon with superior resistance to scratches, smears, extreme temperatures and chemicals. Low energy requirements allow this ribbon to provide excellent print quality and high print speeds. UL & CSA recognised with select Zebra materials.

image of Zebra resin ribbon
Click the following link to browse our range of Zebra industrial and desktop ribbons: https://www.feedyourzebra.co.uk/zebra_thermal_transfer_ribbons.html
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