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The right ribbons for the right labels … protecting against abrasive wear

We know that thermal printheads are sensitive electrical components.  They are so sensitive that Gulton recommends that our customers never directly touch the surface of the printhead.  We’ve also reviewed the steps you can take to prolong the life of your printhead through proper care and maintenance.

There is more, though, and it has nothing directly to do with how you treat your printheads.  It has to do with the ribbons you choose to use in your thermal transfer printer.  The right ribbons will contribute to longer printhead life.  The wrong ribbons will actually damage the printhead, not simply resulting in poor-quality print results, but a printhead that has been scratched and abraded. 

Thermal transfer printers work by passing a ribbon through the space between your labels and the thermal printhead.  When your ribbon is at least as wide as the label you are using – or preferably a little wider – the printhead never directly contacts the label surface.  Remembering how sensitive a printhead is, we can understand that if simply touching it with bare fingers and hands can cause damage, the surface of the label itself can abrade the printhead.

While labels may feel smooth when you run your hand over them, on a microscopic level, they aren’t.  If you’re using a ribbon that does not meet the width of your labels, there is no protection between the printhead and the surface of the label.  And when printhead meets label directly, damage results.


While it’s important for any business to save money, especially during challenging economic times, Gulton recommends thinking twice about purchasing low-priced, low-quality supplies for your thermal transfer printer.  Your ribbons need to be high quality and wide enough to accommodate the entire width of your printing media.  In the long run you WILL save money because you will extend the life of your printheads.  In addition, you’ll achieve better quality print results and experience less down time. And remember, Gulton is here to answer any questions you have about printheads, print quality, and how to get the best results from your thermal printer investment.  Just give us a call at 800-356-0399!