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Which Type of ID Card Ribbon is Right for Me?

When it comes to ID card ribbon (ink for ID card printers), many customers don’t know where to begin. Why are there so many varieties? However, when broken down it does begin to make more sense. The reality is that manufacturers provide different ribbons because of the array of different needs and functions. Here are the details you need to know in order to purchase the ribbon that is right for you:

Understanding Ink Ribbon Variations

ID card primer ribbons are made up of primary colors which are listed as letters (Y, M, C). The letter K and O are also used but do not represent primary colors. Each combination of the letters describes the ribbon type and the associated colors.

  • Y – Yellow
  • M – Magenta (Red / Pink)
  • C – Cyan (Blue / Aqua)
  • K – Black
  • O – Overlay (Not a color)

How to Choose the Ribbon Types

YMC –YMC is recommended only for retransfer printers and laminating. Without the O panel on the ribbon, the colors will likely smear and appear very wet. If you’re needing to add black text, barcodes or any other black design, you should use a different ribbon.

YMCK – This type of ribbon is only recommended for retransfer and lamination as well. Again, the O panel is to protect the colors that are being placed on the card. Unlike the YMC, this one is a good option for this wanting to print black content on the card because of the K panel.

YMCKO – This is the most popular of all ribbon types. It’s quite versatile in that it can print all of the colors you need, including black and also has the O panel which protects the card.

YMCKOK – This particular ribbon is used for a specific purpose. You may have noticed that there are two K panels listed on this type. The purpose is simple. Many companies like to use color on the front and only black on the back. This allows for this purpose without having to use color on both sides of the card.

YMCKK – This serves the same purpose as the YMCKOK ribbon with the exception of having the O panel. Again, without the O panel, it’s only recommended to be used for laminating and retransfer printers.

YMCKIKI – This one is very similar to the YMCKOK but instead replaces the O with the I which stands for “inhibit.” This ribbon is only used with retransfer printers. Since retransfer printers do not need the O panel, the I panel is added to keep the HDP film from sticking to the card surface. This is important to protect the features of smart cards, embedded holograms and magnetic strip cards.

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