All ID Technology label production plants can produce both direct thermal and thermal transfer labels for customers ranging from the largest international brands to smaller local companies.
Major investment in both production equipment and people, ensures that ID Technology thermal labels are 100% consistent regardless of where they are produced.
Direct Thermal Labels.
Direct Thermal Label Technology has the advantage of needing no thermal ribbon to produce high-quality prints. Instead, the label material is heat sensitive so that running through a standard thermal printer, causes the image to be produced on the surface of the label.
Advantages of Direct Thermal Labels.
No ribbon to load to the printer – improves uptime and equipment OEE.
No worries with ribbon wrinkle that can lead to poor print and bad barcodes.
Can use dedicated direct thermal printer – less chance of mechanical problems with ribbon drive so less downtime.
Remove the possibility of label/ribbon mismatch.
No used ribbon to have to dispose of.
Good print quality – even at high print speed.
Often lower cost than thermal transfer labels + ribbons.
Disadvantages of Direct Thermal Labels
Somewhat reduced printhead life.
Can fade over extended periods of time.
Will darken when exposed to extreme heat and direct sunlight.
Synthetic substrates can be costly.
Limited chemical resistance.
Where are Direct Thermal Labels Used?
Direct thermal labels are often used in supply chain and logistics applications, where the lack of ribbon needed can lead to improved efficiency and the good barcode quality needed for automatic scanning. Direct thermal labels will often be seen on shipping cases, shrink-wrapped trays and on pallets – usually being printed with GS1 barcodes.
Usually, these items will be shipped and used within a few weeks, well with the time that the direct thermal print will be in good condition. For applications where a longer life is needed, or the label will be exposed to high heat, sunlight or chemicals, a thermal transfer label would be applicable.
Thermal Transfer Labels
Thermal Transfer labels involved the use of a transfer ribbon to produce the image on the label material. Most barcode label printers are able to print both direct thermal and thermal transfer labels.
Labels printed using this technology can be very durable (especially when using transfer ribbons with a high resin content), with exceptionally good print quality.
Advantages of Thermal Transfer Labels
Excellent print quality – high contrast provides consistently good barcode grades.
Durable print – can be resistant to high temperatures, chemicals and more.
Extended printhead life – the printhead doesn’t come into contact with the abrasive label material, resulting in less wear.
Synthetic label substrates are readily available.
Disadvantages of Thermal Transfer Labels.
Using a ribbon means an additional consumable to manage and dispose of.
Ribbon wrinkles can cause un-scannable barcodes.
Additional production downtime for ribbon roll changes (ID Technology label/ribbon kits can help minimize this).
High resin content ribbons can be expensive.
Where are Thermal Transfer Labels Used?
Thermal transfer labels are widely used in supply chains and logistics as well as for product identification labels, medical device labeling, in the aerospace industry and just about anywhere a high quality, durable print is needed.