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Tag Archive: Thermal Transfer Labels

  1. What is Thermal Transfer Printing?

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    Thermal Transfer Ribbons

    Thermal transfer printing involves melting resin-based ink or wax ribbons onto printing media, which results in a high-quality, long-lasting image. Manufacturers primarily use thermal transfer printing to print labels due to its resistance to moisture and heat that allows for optimal durability. Depending on the needs of a particular application, this process could be more ideal than direct thermal printing or other printing processes.

    How Does a Thermal Transfer Printer Work?

    The thermal transfer printing process relies on heat to produce results. Specifically, thermal transfer printing entails generating heat using the elements contained within the thermal printhead. This heat causes thermal transfer ribbon (TTR) ink to melt, transferring it onto the print media to develop the designated image.

    Thermal transfer printers work efficiently through the use of sensors that indicate to the system when the TTR roll is out, which helps preserve the printhead. The resulting image features a high print quality that’s capable of withstanding more wear and tear compared to other printed images.

    Unlike direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers work with many types of print media, such as polyester, paper, and polypropylene.

    Thermal Transfer Printer Advantages

    Thermal printing alone offers numerous benefits compared to other types of printing techniques. Generally, thermal printing offers increased media and application flexibility along with reduced maintenance and increased durability. Because of these benefits, applications often use thermal printing methods to print barcodes, particularly those used on tags and labels that experience levels of exposure to moisture, sunlight, and other harsh conditions.

    While both direct thermal and thermal transfer printing each offer similar benefits, thermal transfer printing comes with several key advantages, including:

    • Long-life image stability
    • The ability to produce crisp and high-definition graphics, text, and barcodes
    • Reliability
    • Minimal waste production
    • Low maintenance costs
    • A wide range of available print media options

    Limitations of Thermal Transfer Printing

    While thermal transfer printing offers a variety of advantages that make it ideal for many applications, it also comes with certain disadvantages compared to direct thermal printing and other methods. These limitations aren’t necessarily bad, but you should keep them in mind when considering this process:

    • Higher Supply Costs: Thermal transfer printers require ribbon for one-time use purposes, which results in higher supply costs compared to direct thermal printing. However, because these systems protect the thermal transfer printheads, these components last longer in thermal transfer printers.
    • Poor For Recycling: The thermal transfer ribbon is difficult to recycle.
    • Potentially wasteful. If an application requires minimal printing, this makes the single-pass thermal transfer ribbon more wasteful.
    • Compatibility: To produce the best possible print quality, both the print media and ribbon must be compatible with each other. If these elements are incompatible, the ribbon may melt onto the label and result in waste.
    • Monochrome Printing: Thermal transfer printing works best with monochrome printing applications, with little to no color applied.

    High-Quality Thermal Printing Supplies from Technicode, Inc.

    Thermal transfer printing is one of the most reliable printing processes available for printing labels, barcodes, and other materials. If you require some of the best thermal printing products, Technicode, Inc. is here to provide them. We supply many types of thermal transfer printing media that work with a wide variety of thermal printers, including printers from brands such as Datamax®, Zebra®, Monarch®, and many others. Our supplies include a selection of thermal transfer ribbons, thermal transfer labels and tags, and much more based on your thermal transfer printing needs. We also offer supplies for direct thermal printing applications.

    Regardless of what you need, we have some of the best products in the industry to provide consistently great results. To learn more about our product offerings and what we can do for you, contact us today.

  2. What’s the Difference Between Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal Printing?

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    Thermal Transfer Labels

    Thermal printing uses one of two processes: thermal transfer or direct thermal printing. Both methods are similar in that they use a thermal printhead to apply heat to a surface. However, direct thermal printing requires chemically treated, heat-sensitive material, and thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to transfer images onto a wide range of materials.

    In both methods, a printhead containing small heating elements delivers heat to specific areas to produce an image. The resolution of the image is determined by the arrangement and number of heating elements, or dots per inch (DPI), in both methods. The higher the DPI, the better print resolution and quality produced. The main difference between the two methods is the printing surface, which we will detail further below.

    Thermal Transfer Printing

    To choose the best thermal printing technique for a given application, it’s necessary to have a basic understanding of the functionality of each method. Let’s take a closer look at how thermal transfer printing works and its unique advantages.

    How Does a Thermal Transfer Printer Work?

    Thermal transfer printing uses heating elements located in a printhead to deliver punctual heat to a passing ribbon. The ribbon melts onto a label forming the printed image. The label absorbs the ink to apply the image to the media. In this type of thermal printing, both the ribbon and label stock must be carefully chosen. The material and adhesive qualities of the label and ribbon must be well matched to achieve prints that are of the highest quality and durability. Choosing the correct materials allows the final product the ability to withstand chemical and UV exposure, extreme temperatures, robust cleaning procedures, and more.

    Advantages of Thermal Transfer Printing

    Thermal transfer printing achieves crisp, high-definition images, text, and graphics that boast maximum readability, scannability, and long-life image stability. Both single and batch printing can be performed while producing virtually no waste, and nearly any media can be printed. Thermal transfer printers are more durable than conventional printers affording your application more reliability and lower maintenance costs.

    Applications of Thermal Transfer Printing

    Thermal transfer printing is compatible with a virtually unlimited variety of media stock, making the applications for this printing method just as diverse and applicable to many industries. Some common applications include:

    • Circuit board tracking
    • Asset tagging
    • Inventory identification
    • Cold storage
    • Outdoor applications
    • Certification labels
    • Marking laboratory specimens

    Direct Thermal Printing

    In direct thermal printing, the image is applied directly to the material as opposed to a ribbon as in thermal transfer printing. The following sections will explain how direct thermal printing works, its key advantages, and its most suitable applications.

    How Does Direct Thermal Printing Work?

    In this technique, the heating elements in the printhead apply punctual heat directly to a label featuring a heat-sensitive coating. The chemicals in this coating cause a reaction that changes the label color from white to black in the areas where heat is applied. Direct thermal printers are simpler in design than thermal transfer printers because they do not require a ribbon.

    Advantages of Direct Thermal Printing

    This method produces images that scan well and can be used with recyclable materials. This method is ideal for applications in which the image does not need to last long, such as receipts or shipping labels. Direct thermal printers are easy to operate since they do not use ink or toner. They produce virtually no waste and have low, long-term maintenance costs as they are very durable and don’t have supplies that need to be replenished.

    Applications of Direct Thermal Printing

    Thermal Transfer vs. Direct Thermal Printing

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    The labels used in direct thermal printing are extremely sensitive to heat, light, and other environmental conditions. As such, common applications include items typically used or stored indoors, such as:

    • Receipts
    • Tickets
    • Visitor identification for hospitals or schools
    • Shipping labels
    • Pharmacy Labels
    • Food Labeling Labels
    • Restaurant Order Labels
    • Barcodes

    In Need of a Thermal Transfer or Direct Thermal Labels?

    Technicode, Inc. has been a reliable source for thermal printing supplies for over 20 years. Our products are compatible with all the leading thermal printer brands and we also develop custom-sized labels, with or without printing. Thermal printing media by Technicode is proudly made in the USA and always ships quickly. If you have questions about which printing method is right for your application, please contact us. If you know which labels you need for your application, request a quote today to get started.