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Thermal Transfer and Direct Methods
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There are 2 types of thermal printing Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal.

Thermal transfer includes a thermal ribbon for it's method. The thermal printer is equipped with a printer head that produces heat that melts the black ribbon onto the label. The heat is percise and produces an image worthy of barcodes and fine text. Thermal print labels can last a very long time just like ink, but without the large cost.

You might ask yourself, "why don't I just use a regular printer for my labels?"
Well, thermal printing is very cost effective compared to inks, very low maintenance and with the right ribbon, your label can be made for any type of application. You can read more on thermal ribbons in this article " Thermal Ribbons; what are they? "

Below is a simple diagram of a thermal transfer printer and it's method of printing.

thermal process


Direct thermal method uses the same printer but without the ribbon. Direct thermal printing uses special coated paper that permits the surface to be burned by the print head.

You might ask yourself then "why use a ribbon?" Direct thermal doesn't last as long as thermal transfer and will eventual fade and not be readable. It is mostly used for products with a short life span. You might think that the direct method is better because it will save you money from not buying ribbons but the direct thermal labels with their special coating cost just the same as regular thermal transfer labels and the ribbon.

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