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Produce high quality on-demand labels excellent for fulfillment distribution and warehouse labeling, shipping, product labeling and more with thermal transfer material

With thermal transfer label printing technology, a thermal printhead applies heat to a ribbon, this heat melts ink onto the material forming your desired image. The ink is absorbed so that the image becomes part of the media. Thermal transfer creates high quality image excellent for scanning barcodes. There is also direct thermal printing, and it has some advantages of thermal transfer for certain applications, if you still trying to decide which printing technique is best for your needs, this article is helpful tutorial

Quick Facts for using Thermal Transfer Printing

a) Clearer longer lasting, more durable

b) Higher quality print, can use color, superior barcode

c) More material options and sizes

d) Exposure to chemicals, water, harsh environments

e) Cost-effective, fanfolds can be more productive

Thermal transfer printers can accept a larger variety of media to print on than direct thermal label materials. It can print on media including paper, polyester, synthetic papers and polypropylene materials for all kinds of applications and environments. Thermal transfer printers can create extremely durable product labels, certification labels, shelf and asset labels, in addition to common labels, tags, and tickets.

By selecting the right face-stock and ribbon combination, as well as the correct adhesives, users can create quality labels to withstand temperature extremes excellent for archiving and storage, there are TT materials that survive -40°F freezing blast, -80°F cryogenic temperatures and even extreme-heat conditions up to 1000°F. Thermal transfer label material can be exposed to ultraviolet light, water and chemicals and other environmental conditions.


The most common thermal transfer applications include: product labeling and identification; long term storage, permanent identification; sample and file tracking; asset tagging; inventory identification; certification labels such as UL/CSA; laboratory specimens; cold storage and freezers; and outdoor applications like for nurseries, chemical drums and agriculture. Thermal transfer printing is excellent for long term storage and archiving.

Illustration of the thermal transfer printing process


Choosing the right thermal ribbon is also a factor. - Especially if you printing in color or you need speciality properties to handle chemicals, solvents, UV light and abrasion.

1) Wax: Wax thermal transfer ribbons are used to print on paper labels and are very common.. They can print high quality images which can last for many years if they are kept in the right condition: wax-printed labels need to stay dry, and are highly sensitive to abrasives, chemicals and oils, which can wear or melt wax inks away.

2) Wax-Resin: Wax-resin compounds work well with paper labels which are smooth or have a top-coating The combination of wax-resin produces a better quality ore refined image. It still needs to be guarded against excessive moisture, but does offers much more durability than plain wax.

3) Pure Resin: This thermal ribbon is for the most demanding applications you can print a thermal transfer label from on synthetic or plastic based materials. Resin-based thermal inks are designed to fuse onto the material you want an image. Usually vinyl, polyester and polypropylene labels. They are incredibly durable. The plastic label using a resin ribbon combinations are made to weather the harshest environments: they won't fade in sunlight, can be immersed in water, and – depending on material – can be resistant to damage from oils and chemicals. Pure resin thermal ribbons is the used for marine, automotive, aircraft, industrial, and hazardous chemical applications.

Read more about Thermal Ribbons here


Sizes One big advantage of labels sized with thermal transfer pressure sensitive materials is the chooses of sizes and different materials available, and usually in stock. Generally there are a few common sizes which are considered a commodity, ie 4 x 6, and 2 x 4 in both rolls and fanfold stacks, are priced more very competitively because of volumes.

Most sizes are still only available in rolls with a 3" core with a 8" O.D., however as Fanfold stacks become more popular because of productivity advantages productivity advantages of Fanfolded labels, more sizes are becoming available as a stock item,


The Coating over the surface (Topcoat):This is a special coating over the surface of the material you will be printing on to help the print quality. This coating can be easily added to the base to the face-stock and come in gloss, semi-gloss, matte and frosted finishes as UV-screen, water-screen, solvent-screen, water-based, and solvent-based.


Adhesives: Choosing the right adhesive is critical, and can save you time and money. There is a large selection of adhesives fro all kinds of applications and environments from Removable, temporary, reposition-able, aggressive, super-aggressive, high-performance, general-purpose, tamper evident (with words like “VOID” or a checkerboard pattern), acrylic, rubber-based, silicone, cryogenic or frost-resistant, high-temperature, quick tack, shrink resistant, water and humidity-resistant, and solvent-resistant.


Quick List To Consider When Printing Thermal Transfer:

1) When picking the correct adhesive take into consideration the temperate the item will be stored it, the surface of the item and how long the item will be required to be labeled.

2) The material face-stock is also critical, will it come into contact with different environmental conditions

3) the print, perhaps you need color for a branding initiative and need a different type of ribbon


Start looking for all kinds of labels for thermal transfer printing here.