Thermal Printing – Thermal Transfer vs. Direct Thermal

There are two types of thermal printing technology; “Thermal Transfer” and “Direct Thermal.” Direct thermal printing uses heat (but no ribbon) to imprint black print (or possibly blue) on heat-sensitive media and is for temporary labeling (i.e. shipping labels). Direct thermal labels are almost always white paper labels, and when they are exposed to sunlight or fluorescent light they usually turn brown eventually, becoming unreadable. Thermal transfer printing uses a ribbon to transfer wax or resin-based pigment (usually black, but not always) onto a label (paper or synthetic, white or colored), and is permanent (does not fade/turn color).

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