Understanding what consumable is right for your ID card printer

Understanding what consumable is right for your ID card printer

It is not an easy task understanding the ID card printing industry terminology sometimes, but we are here to de-jargon the products, and make sure you are buying the right consumable, for its purpose.

Let us help ensure that you are using the correct ID card printer ribbon for your printer model. It could save you money, especially if you are printing in very large volumes.

CARDS X card printing solutions

So, lets jumps straight in… what are the ribbon types available?

  • Full Colour
  • Monochrome
  • Half Panel
  • KO
  • UV
  • Security Ribbon
  • Lamination
  • Scratch Off

Most of the above consumables are abbreviated to single letters, which make up each panel on the ribbon, and can appear more technical than helpful. Let us try and simplify these for you.

  • Y - Yellow
  • M – Magenta
  • C – Cyan
  • K – Black
  • O – Overlay
  • UV – Ultra Violet
  • I – Inhibtor

YMCKO – Full Panel

This is the most common ribbon used on card printers. The “YMC” panels are used to make up the colour images you are printing onto the card. Followed by the “K” panel for any text, or/and barcodes printed, and the “O” which is the overlay, offers two uses, it gives the printed area an extra protection, but also stabilises the colours you have just printed, to prolong the life of the card. You can use this ribbon on single or dual sided card printers. The below image illustrates the typical YMCKO panels on a ribbon.

YMCKO Card printer Ribbon

YMCKO – Half Panel

A half panel ribbon is used when a customer does not need to print full colour on their card, which means they can use our half panel ribbon. The half panel is as simple as it sounds, we take the YMC panels, and we half them. This results in a ribbon with a higher capacity of print. A perfect example of this can be shown in the image below. You can use this ribbon on single or dual sided card printers. You print half the card in colour (photo ID image or/and logo) and then print the other half of the card in black, followed by the overlay panel to protect the print.

YMCKO Half Panel Card Printer Ribbon


This ribbon is commonly used if you are wanting to print full colour (YMCKO) on one side of the card, and then wanting to print black (K) text or/and a barcode on the other side of the card, this is why you see an extra “K” in the description, after the overlay panel. This ribbon is designed for dual sided card printers, and will not be effective on a single sided printer. Its important to know that the extra “K” panel is not protected with an overlay, but additional YMCKOKO ribbons are available should this be a requirement.

YMCKOK Card printer ribbon


Our monochrome consumables are made up of simply one colour only. Black, White, Red, Green, and also metallic colours such as Gold and Silver. These are commonly used for printing text onto cards, and can be used for batch printing data onto one side of a card, if you only have a single sided card printer. Unlike the full colour ribbon, the monochrome consumables only use one panel at a time, which means generally you get more prints per ribbon, usually 1000 prints.

Monochrome Card printer Ribbon


This ribbon prints a black panel (K), followed by an overlay (O). The intention of this is protect to black text, images or barcode that you have printed, prolonging the life of the black print.

KO Card printer ribbon

Other Ribbons Available:

Fluorescent or UV Ribbon – A UV panel adds an extra print panel to your ribbon, which allows you to print additional security feature on the card, built in to the ribbon not the hardware. UV standards for Ultra Violet, and produces a security image/text when a UV light is shown onto the card.

Inhibitor or “I” Ribbon – The “I” panel is used (YMCKi), is typically used on retransfer printing technology, and its purpose is to avoid printing the retransfer film on certain areas of the card that need to be used, like the magnetic stripe or signature panel.

Scratch Off Ribbon – These are typically used for customers wanting to add a scratch off panel, over an area of text or data on their cards. Scratching off the ribbon panel to reveal the data to text underneath. A common market for these ribbons is telecommunications.

Lamination – Lamination is a separate consumable, which also requires a separate card printer. This ribbon is design to add additional built in security features, as well as prolong the life of the card for up to 10 years. Typically used in government projects such as driving licenses, or national ID cards. A very high secure solution.

Click Here to view our extensive card printer consumables for all printer brands and models.

ID Card Printers