Ribbon is a thin film that is coated on one side with wax, resin, or wax resin. This wax or resin is transferred to the loaded media during thermal transfer printing.
The type of media you are using determines whether or not you need to ribbon to print. It also determines the width of ribbon you will need. Ribbon must be as wide as or wider than the media being used.
If the ribbon used is not as wide as the media loaded, areas of the printhead that are NOT protected by ribbon may wear out prematurely and damage the printhead.
When to Use Ribbon
Thermal transfer printers and thermal transfer media require ribbon for printing. Direct thermal printers and media do not require ribbon.
NEVER use direct thermal media with ribbon. This can distort car codes and graphics.