It’s important to make sure you’re using the right ribbon for your printer. AlphaCard makes it easy to find which ribbons are compatible with your printer using the Supply Locator. But once you’ve found the right ribbons, what’s the difference between the various kinds of ribbons available? Here’s a quick and handy guide to navigating the nomenclature of printer ribbons.

YMC ribbons print full color and composite black, which is created by mixing colors from the YMC panels (yellow, magenta, and cyan). These ribbons are only used with laminating printers. There is no ‘O’ panel on YMC ribbons, which means the cards are not sealed and will fade or scratch without the extra layer of lamination that laminating printers provide. YMC ribbons work best if you don’t require barcodes or sharp black text.
YMCK ribbons print full color and have a resin black panel, the ‘K’ that prints crisp black barcodes and text. If you are printing barcodes, resin black is required so that your barcodes can be read by scanners.
YMCKO ribbons are essentially the same as YMCK ribbons, but also have an additional overlay panel that offers a thin layer of protection for your cards. The extra overlay panel will help delay fading while offering protection against wear and tear. These ribbons are one of the most commonly used types of ribbon with standard dye-sublimation printers.
For dual-sided printers, YMCKOK ribbons function just as YMCKO ribbons do, but include an extra resin black panel for monochrome printing on the back of ID cards and badges.
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