ID Card Printers utilize dye-sublimation technology which uses a color or monochrome ribbon rather than ink or toner. A ribbon is not included with the printer due to range of options available depending on the printer application. The most common ribbon is the full color (YMCKO) ribbon, used for printing full color on the front and/or back of cards. Each ribbon prints a fixed number of prints so you always know how many cards you can print per ribbon (if printing dual-sided cards, one print is required for each side of the card).
There are also a variety of specialty ribbons that include additional or alternative panels to serve a specialized purpose. Each panel is designated by a single letter. For example, a YMCKO ribbon is made up of a Y (yellow), C (cyan), M (magenta), K (black resin), and an O (overlay or topcoat) panel. Other ribbons may include just a single panel (referred to as monochrome ribbons) such as a single K (black) panel. These ribbons are popular when printing black text or a barcode onto a pre-printed card (such as a name onto a membership card). Ribbons also may include specialty panels such as F or UV panels that print a pattern that fluoresces under ultra-violet light for added security (Note: This ribbon type is only available with select printers).
Common types of ribbons and their common uses include:
-YMCKO - Full color ribbon: Commonly used for printing full color cards (single or dual-sided)
-YMCKOK - Full color ribbon with additional black panel: For printing dual-sided cards with a full color front and only black on the backside. More economical than using a full color ribbon for both sides if only black is required.
-Monochrome Ribbons - Only print a single color. Commonly used when printing a single color on a pre-printed card; for example, printing a customer name on a pre-printed membership card.