Label Printers

Understanding the difference between Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer printing

Both technology uses the same type of printhead for which heat is applied to the surface media being marked. Thermal transfer is a method by which a heated ribbon with ink is transferred to the media producing long lasting and durable images. The method can also be used on a wide variety of media to be printed on. Direct thermal on the other hand prints directly on the printed material. The method makes direct thermal sensitive to abrasion, light, and heat reducing life.

Choosing between Thermal Transfer and Direct thermal Technology

Thermal transfer printers can accept a wider variety of media than direct thermal models, including paper, polyester, and polypropylene materials. Thermal transfer printers can create extremely durable wristbands, asset tags, and certification labels, in addition to common labels, tags, and tickets. The specific label material and ribbon must be carefully matched to ensure print performance and durability.

By selecting the right media-ribbon combination, as well as speciality adhesives, users can create archival-quality labels to withstand temperature extremes, ultraviolet exposure, chemicals, sterilisation, and more. Typical thermal transfer applications include: product identification; circuit board tracking; sample and file tracking; asset tagging; inventory identification; certification labels such as UL/CSA; laboratory specimens; cold storage and freezers; and outdoor applications.

Direct thermal printing uses chemically treated, heat-sensitive media that blackens when it passes under the thermal printhead. Direct thermal printers have no ink, toner, or ribbon.

Their simple design makes thermal printers durable and easy to use. Because there is no ribbon, direct thermal printers cost less to operate than inkjet, laser, impact, and thermal transfer printers. Most mobile printers use direct thermal technology.

Thermal media images may fade over time. If the label is overexposed to heat, light, or other catalysts, the material will darken and make the text or barcode unreadable. For these reasons, direct thermal printing is not used for lifetime identification applications. The readability of direct thermal labels, wristbands, and receipt papers varies greatly, depending on the usage conditions, but the technology provides ample lifespan for many common barcode printing applications including shipping labels, patient and visitor identification, receipts, and ticket printing.

Thermal transfer and direct thermal technology are your best printer for barcode applications:

Thermal label printers are ideal for barcode printing because they produce accurate, high-quality images with excellent edge definition. Thermal printers are engineered to print within tight tolerances and to produce the exact bar widths that successful barcode printing and scanning require. Each technology can produce one- and two-dimensional barcode symbologies, graphics and text at the same print resolutions and speeds.

At anytime you feel unsure which Printer technology best suits your needs or would like to discuss about your plans of owning your own label and barcode maker, please get in touch with us; we are always happy to speak with you.

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