Printer Ribbon Types Found in Printer Systems

So you find yourself in the market for a printer capable of producing ID cards, but after the obligatory Google search, you're left overwhelmed. Do you opt for a Magicard, Badgy, maybe a Fargo? How about a Zebra or a Datacard. These are just a few of the top brands in the industry, and each manufacturer is likely to present hundreds of model options. Talk about a flooded market! One key way to simplify the whole printer buying conundrum is to think about what type of printer ribbon you will be needing. Yes, it sounds a little like putting the cart before the horse, but there is a certain logic to approaching the problem this way.

Are you going with monochrome or color?

While this may seem self-evident, let's break these two down before progressing. A monochrome printer ribbon is capable of doing black, white, and various shades of gray, while a color ribbon usually consists of four colors: yellow, magenta, cyan, and black, which has earned these ribbons the acronym YMCK. These four colors combine to produce pretty much every color of the rainbow, so there’s no shortage of customization options. If the ID cards you plan on producing are going to be basic, black and white affairs, then you will be looking for a model compatible with this type of printer ribbon. However, if you are looking to add a little vibrancy to your ID cards, or want to color code badges for various security clearances, then you will need to find a printer that works with this type of ribbon.

You will be printing on both sides of the card?

It might not sound like it, but the answer can influence the type of ribbon, and thus printer, you will need. For instance, if you want to put a photo on one side and a bar code on the other, finding a printer that can do this will help you narrow the field. Keep in mind that these ribbons will typically print color on the front, and black and white on the reverse side.

Will you need lamination ribbons?

Some printer ribbons will automatically laminate the cards for you, which can be a real time saver. Coincidentally, these types of ribbons are known as YMCKO ("O" being for Overlay).

How important is volume?

On a typical day are you printing 10 or 100 ID cards? Given certain specifications, a printer ribbon might yield around 200 cards, or up to 10x that number. Cheaper is not always less expensive, so find a printer that produces the volume you need.

Do you know your acronyms?

In addition to the YMCK, and YMCKO already covered, you will probably come across other variations of this such as, YMC and YMCKOKO to name only a couple. The YMC is color and capable of producing composite black, which is not good for barcodes. The YMCKOKO is capable of putting barcodes on both sides of the card while including two overlays.

Pay Attention to Brand

Whatever make you ultimately choose, keep in mind that there are going to be twice as many “will-fit” ribbons available for purchase as there are printer models on the market. Remember, you want the most cost effective option, which is typically a name brand printer ribbon. 

For more information on printer ribbon types, or to order the type you need, contact us at Avon Security Products today!  

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