Wax ribbons typically contain a high percentage of wax-based materials in the colorant substance. Since waxes generally have lower melting points than resins, printing with wax ribbons typically requires less energy than printing with wax/resin or resin ribbons. Since most waxes used tend to be softer than resins used, image durability is typically less with wax ribbons than wax/resign or resin ribbons. Most wax ribbons are made with only one colorant layer.
Wax ribbons are appropriate for general-purpose applications with uncoated substrates, matte coated substrates, and low-end films like polyethylene and polypropylene films. These ribbons are acceptable for applications where little physical contact with the printed image is likely to occur or where image life is short term (i.e. when durability isn't an issue). Generally wax ribbons have a print speed range of 8 to 12 inches per second. They are best considered for use in general purpose labeling, shipping labels, address labels, warehouse applications including shelf and bin labels, retail tag and label applications, compliance labeling, and textile/apparel applications. Wax ribbons are the least expensive of thermal transfer ribbons. The absorption capability of the substrate surface is a prerequisite for good ink anchorage with wax-based ribbons.