YMCK, YMCKO & YMC – Choosing the Right Printer Ribbon

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If you’re at all familiar with printing, you’ve probably heard the term ‘CMYK’ and you likely know it stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or black), and you can probably have a fair guess at some of the letters in YMCKO and YMCKOK.

YMCKO and YMCKOK ribbons aren’t for standard printers, though. They’re made specifically for ID Card Printers and they have panels of colour, called dye sublimation panels to print what you need on your ID cards. And here’s what all that jumble of letters actually stands for:


No surprises for guessing this stands for yellow, magenta and cyan. These printer ribbons can create just about any full-colour design you want, including black, as long as composite black (made from a mix of the three colours) is good enough for your design.


Again, it’s quite straightforward and stands for yellow, magenta, and cyan, but where it differs from standard printing is that the black is actually a black resin panel which is used for clear, precise black text and also has to be used if you need to print barcodes, as composite black won’t work for them.

YMCKO Printer Ribbons

These have the standard colours, the black resin panel and the ‘O’ stands for an extra overlay panel which will coat your printed ID card to help protect your design and make it more durable. Some printer ribbons allow you to add security watermarks using the overlay panel which can help improve the overall security of your cards and organisation.

YMCKOK Printer Ribbons

These ribbons have all of the above and a further black panel so you can print in black on the back of the card.

YMCKO and YMCKOK ribbons can do rather more than the others, but what’s the difference between the two? Why pick one over the other?

Well, you can print vibrant full colour and a clear black, plus a barcode and an overlay on one side of your ID cards with a YMCKO ribbon, so they’re great for cards that are only printed on one side. You can also print colour on both sides of your ID cards with the same ribbon, though you will go through your printer ribbon twice as fast if you do that.

With YMCKOK ribbons you can also print your full colour design, clean black type, a barcode and an overlay on one side of your ID cards, as well as printing a plain black design on the other side, where perhaps the rear of your card doesn’t have to be in colour.

All of the ribbon types are useful in different ways and choosing your ribbon is just a case of deciding what sort of design you want, including whether it’s double-sided or not, and whether you also need to be able to print a barcode on your cards.

Monochrome / Single Colour Ribbons

Monochrome ribbons are available in a range of different colours. However, as the name implies, monochrome ribbons can only print in one colour. You can also purchase special monochrome ribbons such as scratch off ribbons.

Retransfer Film

Retransfer ID Card Printers do not use the traditional YMCK ribbons, instead they use retransfer film with a YMCK film. Check out our Edge-to-Edge vs Over-the-Edge card printer blog post which explains the difference between the difference between Direct to Card Printers and Retransfer Card Printers.

We sell a range of different YMC, YMCKO & YMCKOK ID Card Printer Ribbons. Make sure you check out the MA300YMCKO & MA250YMCKOK, our best selling printer ribbons which are designed specifically for Magicard Printers.

1 thought on “YMCK, YMCKO & YMC – Choosing the Right Printer Ribbon

  1. How much cards print with ymck and re-transfer film

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