Variable codes such as barcode and QR-code are enablers for efficient business processes. The printing of variable code is supporting the primary process and should, therefore, be flawless. The right printing method needs to be selected to ensure that the barcode is always producing the right data when scanned. Barcodes that should last are best printed with Thermal Transfer.
Of the different printing techniques for a barcode, Thermal Transfer is proving to be the most versatile and durable. Of course, the right ribbon needs to be selected for the optimal result. Therefore, different ribbons are available for different situations and substrates. Wax ribbons are the preferred choice for applications such as logistical labels and identification tags. Wax/resin ribbons are commonly used for in-line printing of packagings, including flexible materials. Resin ribbons are the most durable option in case of contact with chemicals or severe abrasion. Altogether, Thermal Transfer printing with the correct ribbon provides peace-of-mind on the durability of a barcode.
The issues around printed barcodes and other variable codes centre around the readability and scannability of the code. This might show directly after printing but also over time. Above all, the key step in preventing issues from occurring is the choice for the right printing technique. Thermal Transfer Printing is the technique that offers most opportunities in terms of durability, substrate flexibility, types of exposure etc.
Some common challenges with Thermal Transfer print concerning ribbons are discussed below. Of course, when you are experiencing issues with your printed barcodes, we are ready to help you in finding the solution.
When printed information, such as the barcode, looks faded directly after printing or is easily wiped off, the ribbon might be unsuitable for the substrate. More specific questions on ribbon and substrate are answered on this page.
Solution: use a different Thermal Transfer Ribbon
When printed information looks too light or too thick, this might be due to the settings of the printer. When the temperature is too low or the speed is too high, the print looks faded or grey. Too high temperatures or too low printing speeds give a print that looks too thick and heavy.
Solution: adapt the heat and/or speed settings of the printer.
Static electricity in the printer attracts dust. Dust on the printhead causes white spots in the printed barcode and eventually results in unscannable codes. Poor quality ribbons can build static electricity within the printer. In this vlog we explain a bit more.
Solution: clean the printhead and the inside of the printer.
Prevention: for a high quality barcode, use a Thermal Transfer Ribbon with an anti-static coating. All DNP ribbons have such a coating.
When diagonal unprinted lines appear in your barcode, a wrinkle in the Thermal Transfer Ribbon is likely the cause. These lines can result in unscannable barcodes. Good quality ribbons do not come with wrinkles but they can still appear when something in the printer is not correct or when the ribbon is not correctly loaded.
Solution: reload the ribbon in the printer, when the problem persists check the pressure settings of the printhead and/or consult your printer and/or TTR supplier.
Get in touch with us to receive personalised advice from our TTR experts.