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Roll Specifications

Paper rolls consist of 2 main components:

1.The Core

A hollow tube that can be one of the following:

  • Plastic – Either solid wall or honeycombed; may be white or any of a number of colors
  • Fiber – Similar to heavy cardboard, usually brown
  • None – When a core is not used, the paper is wound around the mandrill (a long steel tube) and slid off, leaving the core space empty.

2. The Paper

At MAX International, the most common substrates (paper types) used to make rolls are:

  • Bond. Single-ply (one sheet), usually measured by basis weight(e.g. 15#, 16#, or 20#)
  • Carbonless. Measured by the number of plys (mostly 2 ply or 3 ply); can be all white or colors
  • Thermal. Always single-ply; measured by basis weight – either in pounds (15# and 20#) or metric weight, i.e. grammage (55gm or 80gm)
  • MAXStick. Since its substrate is thermal paper, MAXStick is measured in either pound (15# or 20#) or grammage (55gm or 80gm)

Rolls specifications are given in the following format:  

  1. Roll width x roll diameter x inside diameter of the core
  2. Plus the paper type, the basis weight, core type, and color(s)
  3. Sometimes caliper (paper thickness) and/or the roll footage are specified.
  • To convert Millimeters to Inches:
    • Millimeters x .03937 = Inches
  • To convert Inches to Millimeters:
    • Inches x 25.4 = Millimeters

Critical Measurements
Used in formulas and specifications:

  • ID: Inside diameter of the core. This measures the actual space between the inside walls of the core.
  • OD (or “d”): Outside diameter of the core. This measures the distance from the outside surface to the outside surface.
  • D: Outside diameter of the completed roll.
  • Caliper (or “T”): the thickness of the paper in thousandths of an inch.
  • Length (or “L”): the length of the paper on the finished roll, usually in feet, but occasionally in meters.
  • Width (or “W”): the width of the roll in inches or Millimeters.
  • Weight (or “w’): the weight of the roll in pounds or #.

Common Printer Roll Widths (in order of usage):

2 ¼”
3 1/8”
1 ½”
1 ¼”

80mm (3 1/8”)
58mm (2 ¼”)
76mm (3”)
112mm (4 3/8”)
82mm (3 ¼”)

Quick and easy tests to ensure you got what you paid for.

  1. Use your eyes.
    • The roll should be round – not oval, squashed, or oddly shaped.
    • The roll should be clean, although there may be some slight scuff marks, especially on thermal rolls. If there are scuff marks, remove the first wrap to ensure that they do not go past the outside, protective wrap.
    • The roll should have neat, flat edges. The core should be even with or slightly recessed from the edge. Stand the roll first on one side (core side) then on the other. Wobbling means it is coned slightly causing the paper to move a bit from side to side in the printer. This is only a problem if your application requires tight tolerances. However, if you can actually see the coning, or it is especially pronounced, discard the roll.
  2. Use your hand to feel the roll, gently.
    • The roll should be firm – not squishy.
    • The roll should not change shape with only gentle pressure.
    • The edges should be even and relatively smooth, without crumples.
  3. Use a ruler.
    • Measure the width. Your roll should not only fit in the machine, it should be within the manufacturer’s specifications or the measurement you gave at the time of order.
    • Measure the ID (inside diameter) of the core. Not only should the measurement be correct from your or the printer manufacturer’s original specification, but it should also be the correct type as well, i.e. honeycomb plastic, solid wall plastic, or fiber.
    • Measure the diameter. If you ordered your roll by specifying diameter rather than footage, it should be within the measurement of your specification.
    • If you ordered by the footage, the only way to be sure is to roll it out. It is a good policy to test one roll from each shipment you receive. If you find an issue, check a roll from each of several cases.
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