THERMAL TRANSFER VS. DIRECT THERMAL PRINTING
thermal transfer printing
A thermal transfer printer is a category of non-impact printer that uses heat to create an impression on the print media. It uses a carbon ribbon that, upon heating, is moved to the substrate. Unlike some types of printers, a thermal transfer printer can print in color, as the ribbons used can be of different colors and, as such, it is not limited to black print. A thermal transfer printer can produce prints that are durable and of very high quality compared to other types of printers and can be used with different types of print media.

Direct thermal printing requires the print head elements be in direct contact with the label material as it is pulled across the print head. Conversely, thermal transfer printing has thermal ribbon acting as a “buffer” between the print head elements and the label material. Many thermal ribbons are designed with a back-coating that serves to increase print head life by reducing static and friction. This benefit is not possible when direct thermal printing due to the lack of ribbon. Instead, the label material is in direct and constant contact with the print head, resulting in increased wear when compared to thermal transfer printing.

Thermal transfer is 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 bar code printing and scanning require. Thermal transfer printing is commonly used for meat, dairy, barcodes, name tags, coupons, shipping labels, compliance labels, receipts, name tags.