Thermal Transfer or Direct Thermal Labels

Thermal Transfer or Direct Thermal Labels?

Creating and printing barcode labels can be a difficult task but, starting out by determining which form of label your printer will allow you to print on is a great start! Choosing between Thermal Transfer or Direct Thermal labels starts with the printer you have available and the type of application you require to start creating and printing labels. Thermal Transfer labels do require a thermal printer ribbon to generate images or text to print readable barcodes on a label whereas a Direct Thermal label do not. Direct Thermal printing requires the use of thermochromic paper, or better know as thermal paper, when passed over the printhead the heat causes a chemical interaction and thus creating the text or image sent from the printer software.


The benefits of using a Direct Thermal only printer are that one creating labels do not require purchasing ribbons but, direct thermal labels can be a bit more expensive than that of Thermal Transfer labels. Direct thermal labels are most commonly used by shippers where the labels have a short life span as opposed to a Thermal Transfer application where someone might need a label to withstand time and  the elements. Thermal Transfer labels are more generally used where time, environments such as warehouses that expose the label to harsh weather and even where the labels is exposed to the sun.


How does one determine the labels they are currently using are Thermal Transfer or Direct Thermal? One simple way would be to use a heat source closely placed behind the label to see if there is a reaction coming from the chemicals where the label would turn black from the heat source.


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