What is a thermal label printer?
There are two types of thermal labels; Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer. Unlike many companies advertising on the internet today, almost all of the printers that we offer are capable of printing on either type of thermal label, so that you don't get stuck with an expensive piece of equipment that won't do what you need it to.
Here's a comparison to help you get started, but feel free to contact us for a discussion of your specific needs.
Direct Thermal is a label material that has been chemically treated to change color under high heat.
Direct thermal applies heat directly to the label surface to print.
Direct thermal paper discolors eventually, turning tan or brown under UV or florescent light in approximately 1-3 months. Therefore it is used primarily as a short term identification/shipping label material.
Thermal Transfer refers to a label material that has been coated to adhere to wax or resin that has been colored.
The wax or resin "transfers" from a Mylar (polyester) carrying film ("ribbon") onto the label, bonding to the coating under heat and pressure.
Thermal transfer, therefore, requires a ribbon to print with. The price of thermal transfer printing is often similar or even below direct thermal, even after accounting for the cost of ribbons. Thermal transfer printing is more durable, permanent, and usually looks better than direct thermal printing.