There are 2 types of labels, Direct Thermal Labels and Thermal Transfer Labels. Direct Thermal Labels do not require any ink, ribbons or cartridges. They are slightly more expensive to buy, but cheaper in the long run. Thermal Transfer labels on the other hand require a ribbon. The main difference between the two is that Thermal Transfer Labels can be exposed to UV (Direct Sunlight) where-as Direct Thermal Labels will fade out when exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods. Other factors to see when purchasing labels is the adhesive (Permanent or Removable, the latter being more expensive) and materials (Vinyl and polypropylene durable labels can withstand oils, water etc...).