ITW Thermal Films Glossary
Abrasion Resistance: Abrasion resistance is the degree to which a label surface resists abrasion.
Back Coating: Coating that provides heat protection, lubrication and static resistance to lengthen printhead life. The back coating comes in direct contact with the printhead.
Bar Code: An array of parallel or rectangular bars and spaces that together represent a single data element of character in a particular symbology.
Bar Code Character: A single group of bars and spaces, which represent an individual number, letter, punctuation mark or other symbol.
Bar Code Density: The number of data characters in a bar code, which can be represented in a linear unit of measure. Bar code density is often expressed in characters per inch.
Bar Code Label: A suitable label, which carries a bar code and is affixed to an article.
Bar Code Symbol: A sequence of rectangular shapes and intervening spaces used to encode a string of data. A bar code symbol typically consists of five parts: 1-a leading quiet zone, 2-a start character, 3-data character(s) including an optional check character, 4-a stop character and 5-a trailing quiet zone.
Bearer Bars: A minimum of two parallel bars running the length of the top and bottom edge of a bar code. Bearer bars, if used, reduce the probability of a misread when a skewed scanning beam enters and/or leaves the symbol through the top or bottom.
Bi-directional: Characteristic of some bar codes that allow decoding of the symbol regardless of whether scanned in a forward or backward direction.
Burn Temperature: The varying heat settings that transfer the ribbon ink to the face sheet. Some materials require a higher burn setting to transfer the ink.
Coated Side in (CSI): Indicates that the ink is coated on the inside of the ribbon’s film carrier. Examples of printers that use CSI ribbons are Fargo/Datamax and Sato.
Coated Side Out (CSO): Indicates that the ink is coated on the outside of the ribbon’s film carrier. Examples of printers that use CSO ribbons are Zebra, Intermec and RJS.
Codabar: A bar code format in which four bars and three spaces represent the digits 0 through 9 and certain special characters. The code is characterized by four unique start/stop codes, variable inter-character spacing, and code density of up to 10 characters per inch.
Contact Scanner: A bar code scanner that requires physical contact between the encoded medium and the scanner.
Continuous Code: A bar code symbol where all spaces within the symbol are parts of characters. There is no inter-character gap in a continuous code.
Continuous Var Code symbol: Bar codes, where the spaces serve as part of the character’s definition of bars and spaces. There is no inter-character space in continuous codes.
Core: The fiber/cardboard or plastic cylinder upon which thermal transfer ribbons are mounted. Most cores have a 1″ outer diameter.
Data Identifier: A character (or set of characters) that uniquely defines the specific use of the data or the general category of the data field encoded in the bar code symbol following it.
Decodability: Measure of a printed bar code’s ability to be deciphered accurately by a bar code reader.
Direct Thermal: A specially coated label material that contains microscopic capsules of ink. The ink capsules burst when exposed to heat.
Discrete Bar Code Symbol: Refers to a type of bar code symbol, in which no information is contained in the width of the spaces between characters.
Feathering: Feathering is a printing defect. It is characterized by uneven, ragged print edges, or by ink spray around the print edges.
First-Read Rate: First-read rate is a percentage of how often a code can be read successfully on the first scan.
Flag Character: A character (or set of characters) that uniquely defines the specific use of the data or the general category of the data field encoded in the bar code symbol following it.
Ghosting: Ghosting is the indistinct ghost-like images caused by poor ink distribution, label surface inconsistency, ribbon inconsistency or ribbon/label incompatibility.
Guard Bars: A pair of bars, which furnish reference points for scanning devices, found at the beginning, middle and end of U.P.C., and EAN symbologies.
Haloing: Haloing is when a shadow inadvertently appears around the entire printed image, or around its leading edge. It is caused by excessive pressure on the printing surface.
Human Readable Information (HRI): The portion of a bar code that can be read and understood by humans.
Inches per second (IPS): Stands for inches per second. This stands for the print speeds at which thermal transfer printers image.
Ink Melting Point: The temperature in a thermal transfer printer that melts the ribbon ink into the face sheet.
Interleaved Bar Code: A bar code in which the characters are paired together with the bars representing the first character and the spaces representing the second character.
Ladder Code: A bar code printed in a vertical position such that the bars can be thought of as rungs on a ladder.
Leader Tape: Uncoated film found at the beginning of a roll of ribbon. It is used for product identification and it protects the ribbon from being damaged. Most leaders are colored.
Midrange Ribbon: A thermal transfer ribbon that is coated with a combination of wax and resin ink formulations. Midrange ribbons offer more durable print than wax ribbons. They offer superior scratch and abrasion resistance when compared to wax ribbons, but less than that of a full resin ribbon. Midrange ribbons print on paper and synthetic labels.
Notched Core: Some printers require notches so that the ribbon will fit properly and snap into place.
Picket Fence Code: A bar code printed in a horizontal position such that the individual bars appear like the slates in a picket fence.
Printability: Printability refers to surface characteristics on the face stock that relate to printing quality. It is an indication of which face stocks are best for the desired print quality.
Printhead: Electronic thermal transfer printing element using individually energized matrix wires to transfer the image from the ribbon to a substrate.
Quiet Zone: The Quiet Zone is the area preceding the beginning of a bar code and following the end of the bar code, sometimes called the clear area.
Resin Ribbon: A thermal transfer ribbon that is manufactured with a pure resin coating. Resin ribbons create the most durable image and they withstand heat and most chemicals. They must image at slower speeds and higher temperatures. Resin ribbons have the highest degree of scratch, smudge and abrasion resistance. The best print results are on synthetic stocks.
Ribbon Sensor: This is the mechanism on the thermal transfer printer that uses an electronic eye to read the print field area on the label material. Some sensors utilize a gap between labels in order to identify light. Other sensors require a timing mark or a hole punch on the back of the liner.
Rotated Bar Code: A bar code symbol where the lines are imaged in the opposite direction as the printing path. This is also referred to as a ladder or a rotated barcode.
Self-Checking: A bar code or symbol using a checking algorithm which can be independently applied to each character to guard against undetected errors.
Start Character: A distinct character or pattern of bars used at the beginning of each bar code symbol, which provides initial timing references and direction of read information to the decoding logic.
Stepladder Code: A bar code printed in a vertical position such that the bars can be visualized as rungs on a ladder.
Stop Character: A distinct character or pattern of bars used at the end of each bar code symbol, which provides initial timing references and direction of read information to the decoding logic.
Symbol Density: The number of characters per inch (cpi). Limited by the width of the narrowest bar or space.
Take Up Core: Some ribbons are packaged with an extra core to be used to rewind a thermal transfer ribbon after it has been used.
Trailer Tape: Uncoated portion of ribbon found at the end of a thermal transfer ribbon. The trailer sends a signal to the printer that the ribbon is out. Some printers use a silver trailer that uses reflectivity as a sensor. Others use a clear tape, or no tape to the core.
Vertical Bar Code: A bar code pattern presented in a vertical orientation. The individual bars are in an array appearing as rungs of a ladder.
Void: A void refers to the absence of ink in a printing area where ink should appear. Voids create an area of white space that can interfere with the first-read rate of a printed code, and depending on the size and location of the area, may render the code unreadable.
Wax Ribbon: A thermal transfer ribbon that is coated with a wax based ink formulation. Wax ribbons can be manufactured with a hot melt process or a solvent-based process. Wax ribbons are best for coated and uncoated paper stocks. Wax ribbons will print at higher speeds and lower temperatures than midrange or resin ribbons.
X-Dimension: The average width of the narrow element in a bar code determined by the application and/or symbology specification.
Zero Suppression: A technique used to shorten UPC codes by removing zeros from the bar code in a predetermined manner.