Direct thermal vs. Thermal transfer

Direct thermal vs. thermal transfer are two methods of thermally printing labels with variable information. These two methods are explained in more detail below.

Direct thermal labels

(Source image: internet)

Direct thermal materials have a chemical layer applied to a paper or synthetic base that is activated by heat. When the label is printed through a direct thermal printer the small elements on the printer heat up and activate parts of the chemical layer to create the image required. Direct thermal materials allow you to print variable information onto blank or pre-printed labels.

Direct thermal paper labels are a good choice for retail, logistics and other industries where the label is not exposed to high heat or moisture levels after the label has been applied. Direct thermal synthetic is a good choice for carton and retail pack labelling in the chilled and frozen food sectors where the labels are exposed to high levels of moisture and rough handling during transportation.

Thermal transfer labels

(Source image: internet)

Thermal transfer materials work in a similar way as the direct thermal materials. They have a finish on them that accepts the ink that has been transferred from a ribbon onto the label. The labels are printed through a thermal transfer printer where, at the point of the print head, a layer of ribbon is placed on top of the label. The print head elements heat up and cause the ink that is on the ribbon to transfer to the label, creating the required image.

Thermal transfer paper labels are a good choice where direct thermal is not suitable or the print quality of the ribbon is preferred. Thermal transfer synthetic labels are a good choice for outdoor labelling and applications where high levels of moisture or scuffing are expected.

To learn more about the differences, take a look at our blog article Understanding Thermal Labels: Direct thermal vs. thermal transfer. We’ve created a helpful table to explain the basics and compare the two methods.

Please contact Hirich Labels for more information. We will develop a solution specifically for you!


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