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Printing at its Best with Thermal Labels

Thermal Labels use heat to print or create images on various base materials like paper, polythene, or glossy paper. Most of the established business requires the assistance of thermal labels to organize the products and keep them operational.

There is essentially two kinds of thermal printing mode in the world market. They are as mentioned below:

  • Direct Thermal Labels. 
  • Thermal Transfer Labels. 

Both of them are used for printing purpose, only the process of printing is different. 


Direct Thermal printers use heat that is released from the print head to make the labels. For this purpose, they use a special sort of paper that has a coat of leuco dye, to the naked eyes it seems like a blank sheet of paper. But when it is exposed to heat from the printing head it changes the chemical composition and the information gets printed without any hassle. 

Direct thermal printing does not need ink, ribbon, or toner to make the printing work. These labels are best for industries that have a temporary use for them like shipping, receipt, bar codes, passes, and name tags. Too much exposure to heat and bright light fades the printed information and makes it unreadable. 


  • No use of ink. 
  • The service is fast. 
  • Good for temporary use or one-time use. 
  • Suitable for 1D and 2D barcodes. 
  • Can be used on papers and synthetic materials. 
  • Cost-efficient.
  • Easily available to buy from online stores like Amazon, EnkoProducts, etc.


  • Not scratch resistant. 
  • Might discolor when exposed to bright light. 
  • Might discolor under extreme heat. 
  • Cannot print in color. 


Thermal Transfer Labels uses Ribbon which is coated with a waxy substance. Unlike the Direct Thermal printing, it does not use heat to just melt the leuco dye so that the ink becomes visible; Transfer Thermal transfers the ink by using heat on the surface of the base material.

The heat that is released from the print head melts the wax and helps it to bond with the special paper. When heat is provided the carbon pigment present in the ribbon transfers to the label and the desired image is created. 

Transfer Thermal labels are specially used for long time purposes; it is especially suited for outdoor labeling as it will be exposed to extreme weather condition which it has the ability to sustain. 

It is chemical resistant as well as scuff resistant, which means that even after getting scratched or rubbed it will maintain the image. The ribbons are available in different colors, thus, gives the investor a lot of choices. The only drawback of the ribbon mode is that the changing and installing of ribbon can be a bit time-consuming. 

Ribbon Details: 

Thermal Transfer printing is utterly dependent on ribbons and its qualities. These ribbons are available in different sizes and gradient. Some options are provided below:

  • Resin- This sort of ribbon survives even after being exposed to extreme conditions of heat and light. The best type to opt for if the purpose is for industrial use. 
  • Wax Resin- It is scuff resistance as well as chemical resistance. Best to use for general printing purposes. 
  • Wax- This type of ribbon does not have a large lifespan and is best to use for temporary purposes. 


  • Due to its speed, it saves time. 
  • It can be printed in various colors. 
  • Extremely durable. 
  • Best use of long time application. 
  • It can be used in a variety of materials. 
  • Better at heat resistance and light resistance. 
  • Suitable for 1D and 2D barcodes


  • Not all printers are Thermal Transfer compatible. 
  • A ribbon is necessary for printing. 
  • Ribbon adds additional costs. 
  • Requires time to set up and change the ribbon. 
  • Ribbon can compromise the quality of printing. 


Both Direct Thermal Labels and Transfer Thermal Labels come with their pros and cons. Direct Thermal labels are best to use for one time use as it cannot sustain under extreme conditions, but on the plus side, it saves time as well as is available in a variety of colors. 

On the contrary, Transfer Thermal Labels is ideal for use in industrial purposes as the print stays for a very long time but it is more expensive and a bit time consuming than the Direct Thermal Labels due to the function of the ribbon. Each of the products has its advantages and disadvantages, one should opt for either based on the function of it.

Written by

Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson is a web content specialist who loves to write on new Technology, Digital Marketing & Internet. Ryan work has appeared in a wide range of publications in Online Media Coverage for Digital Companies Like: Wondershare, NordVPN.

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