Dye-sublimation is the process your printer uses to print smooth, continuous-tone images that look truly photographic. This process uses a dye-based ribbon roll that is partitioned by a number of consecutive color panels (see Section 4-A for more ribbon information). The panels are grouped in a repeating series of the four process colors Ñ yellow, magenta, cyan, and black Ñ along the entire length of the ribbon. The printer always prints the yellow panel first, followed by the magenta panel, the cyan panel, and finally the black panel. As the ribbon and card pass simultaneously beneath the printhead, hundreds of thermal elements within the printhead heat the dyes on the ribbon. When these dyes are heated, they vaporize and diffuse into the surface of the card. By varying the heat intensity of each thermal element within the printhead, it is possible for each transferred dot of color to vary in hue, thus blending one color smoothly into the next and producing photo-realistic images.
Resin Thermal Transfer
Resin Thermal Transfer is the process your printer uses to print sharp black text and crisp bar codes which can be read by both infra-red and visible-light bar code scanners. It is also the process used to print ultra-fast, one-color ID cards. Like dyesublimation, this process uses the same thermal printhead to transfer color from the ribbon roll to the card. The difference, however, is that solid dots of color are transferred in the form of a resin-based ink which fuses to the surface of the card when heated.