Thermal Technology – Direct Thermal versus Thermal Transfer Printing

Thermal printing is ideal for on-demand applications, especially those calling for variable data and barcoding or human-readable numbering. Thermal barcode labels and tags can be pre-printed with any static images or data, such as a Corporate Logo or a flood-coated color to highlight a sticker label or tag, warning label or shelf tag.

Use Direct Thermal Barcode Tags and Labels When…

  • You need labels for short term applications
  • You want to print without having to use a ribbon

Direct Thermal Printing

In direct thermal printers, the heat of the print head burns the image directly into the coating on the label or tag. Direct thermal printers are great because they don't require ribbons, although you need a specific type of label or tag with special coating. And this type of print is not long lasting. After a period of time, the print will fade and the paper will start to discolor. Direct thermal labels or tags should not be exposed to heat or direct sunlight after application to the product. Direct thermal printing is an ideal printing method for short term use, like shipping labels. However, if you need adhesive labels to last longer than one year, we recommend thermal transfer.

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Use Thermal Transfer Barcode Tags and Labels When…

  • You need more durable labels or tags for unusual applications/environments
  • You need labels or tags to last longer than one year

Thermal Transfer Printing

In Thermal Transfer printing, you will need a Thermal Transfer ribbon with your Thermal Transfer barcode label or tag. In thermal transfer printers, the heat of the print head transfers the image through the wax and/or resin ribbon to your sticker label. With thermal transfer printing, your label or tag image will last for years. Thermal Transfer printing is necessary for applications where adhesive labels are exposed to: outdoors/changing elements; chemical interaction such as lab/clinical use; or refrigeration/freezer storage.

Call us today and we will help you find the right label or tag for your application or simply place your stock order on our online ordering site.

800-243-9701 ext. 102 or 111