Thermal Transfer & Direct Print Media Materials

Paper: Wax Ribbon

Paper is the most commonly used material due to its low cost and ease of use. Most applications will be well served by paper-based media unless you are in a rugged or high moisture environment. Paper labels will tear and can get damaged but still can be an efficient option for product, shipping, or any other indoor use applications. When using thermal transfer paper media you will need to use a wax ribbon.

Polypropylene: Wax/Resin Ribbon

Polypropylene is a plastic material that is the perfect solution for applications that require a more rugged material, while not being exposed to the outdoors or coming into contact with aggressive chemicals. Polypropylene is water resistant and will not tear. It is a great fit for asset labels since it will easily last the life of the item and is only a little more costly than paper. When using thermal transfer polypropylene media you will need to use a wax/resin ribbon.

Polyester: Resin Ribbon

Polyester is the most rugged of materials you can use and due to its much higher cost, is best for very extreme environments. Applications involving outdoor use, harsh conditions, or involve exposure to chemicals, will be best served by polyester. Polyester is about 5-6 times more costly than paper so it really should only be used when polypropylene or paper will not hold up. Vehicle tagging and chemical barrel labeling are examples when you would really need the durability of polyester.Polyester is very rarely available with a direct thermal option. When using thermal transfer polyester media you will need to use a full resin ribbon.



Most labels use an acrylic permanent adhesive that is great for smooth, clean surfaces. Once this adhesive fully bonds to the surface it will be difficult to remove and in the process you will either destroy the label itself or leave a fair amount of residue at the very least. Permanent adhesive works well on paper, wood, glass, plastic, and some metals.


Most often, a removable adhesive is used when a label is being used on paperwork during a process and then a product box when completed. Some specialty retails will also want to use this type of adhesive so that they can easily remove a pricing label without any residue on the item. Removable adhesives do not have the same strength or stickiness as permanent adhesives, which make it easy to remove a label without damaging it or the item.

High Tack

This type of adhesive is typically used for situations where you don’t have a clean, smooth surface at room temperature to apply the label. If you are using labels on site in a dirty environment like a building work site, a high tack adhesive would ensure the label bonds to the surface more quickly. High tack adhesive is a type of permanent adhesive that has extra initial stickiness.