What advice would you give buyers?
Just because a ribbon works on one label substrate doesn’t mean it will work on another. Furthermore, there are a lot of new ribbons on the market that may appear to be equivalent, but actually aren’t. Any component change, even from one polyester to another, could change performance, so fit-for-use testing is critical. And waiting to test inline can be costly. If it doesn’t perform as necessary, it could throw off your entire production cycle. Better to take the time to test beforehand to ensure you can meet your timeline and give your customers the turnaround and performance they expect.
The same is true for equipment changes. You may not be able to achieve the same result with one printer as with another. Just because a sales person tells you, “It will work fine” is no guarantee. Do your due diligence. You won’t regret it.
Finally, the regulations keep changing. We retest every 2-3 years to ensure that any change in our process hasn’t affected performance and to be sure we’re still in compliance with regulations such as UL/cUL, REACH and RoHS.
What things should a printer take into consideration when choosing a different ribbon?
Knowing what your label will come up against is critical. What chemical(s) will it need to resist? Will it be in the form of a vapor or liquid? Will the chemical be wiped across the surface of the label? All of these things can impact the durability and legibility of the printed label.
Also, providing all relevant details to your supplier is necessary for them to make a proper recommendation. When they ask what film you’re currently using, they need more information than “polyester.” They need to know the manufacturer and the product number. The same is true for ribbon information. Only telling them it’s a “foil” or a “black ribbon” isn’t enough. Is it wax, wax/resin or resin? Who makes it? The more information you can provide, the more likely it is that you’ll be pointed in the right direction toward an alternative that will provide comparable performance.
Need help testing an alternative ribbon or film? Our Technical Response Lab can help.