Thermal printers are crucial for many businesses.
However, are you aware of how thermal printers
are able to produce large quantities of durable
labels, signs, and barcodes?
In contrast to inkjet and dot matrix printers,
thermal printers produce images using a
This method produces images with superior
print quality and increased durability.
There are two types of thermal printers: thermal transfer
and direct thermal.
Each utilizes a thermal printer that provides heat
to the marking surface.
WHY OPT FOR THERMAL PRINTER?
If you need to print out barcodes, particularly on labels,
tags, or wristbands with a lengthy shelf life or that are
exposed to sunshine, dampness, or severe
circumstances, you're probably utilizing
or considering employing thermal printers.
Thermal-based printing is also an excellent choice
if you're interested in:
Low-maintenance, durable printers
Alternative technologies, such as impact printers,
are more susceptible to failure in industrial
and dynamic settings.
Frequently, they lack the print quality necessary to generate
clear, consistently scannable barcodes and are not designed
for adhesive label media
(Impact printers operate by striking an ink ribbon with a
metal or plastic head. Dot matrix, daisywheel, and
ball printers are examples).
HOW DOES A THERMAL PRINTER WORK?
Image credit: Starmicronics.com
There are two kinds of thermal printers that you can
1. THERMAL TRANSFER PRINTING
Thermal transfer printers utilize a heated printhead that melts ink
onto the media by applying heat to a ribbon.
The ink is absorbed, so incorporating the picture into the media.
This approach offers superior picture quality and longevity
compared to other on-demand printing technologies.
Paper, polyester, and polypropylene are some of the
media types that thermal transfer printers can
accept in addition to direct thermal printers.
2. DIRECT THERMAL PRINTING
Without requiring a ribbon, toner, or ink, direct thermal printers
produce images directly on the printed medium.
This approach utilizes chemically treated, heat-sensitive material
that turns black when passed beneath a thermal printer.
Consequently, this medium is more susceptible to light,
heat, and abrasion.
And, labels and tags are not as long lasting.
Images can deteriorate over time, and media
can darken when overexposed to heat, light,
or other agents.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A THERMAL PRINTER?
Thermal Printers offer a wide range of applications in a
variety of industries:
- Transport and Logistical Planning
- Cross-docking and inventory
- Picking and packaging
- Receiving and shipping
- Inventory administration
- Evidence of delivery
- Rental car return
- Construction in progress
- Conformity labeling
- Parts management
- Equipment maintenance
- Quality control
- Positive patient identification
- Laboratory/pharmacy administration
- Asset management
- Accurate specimen labeling
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A THERMAL PRINTER
Print volume and speed
Comparing the two thermal printing techniques, direct thermal printing
is faster and requires less maintenance effort.
Simply replacing the label stock and maintaining the heat element
is sufficient for optimal production.
Image quality causes thermal transfer printing to be slightly
more precise and time-consuming.
It is also the user's responsibility to know which ink ribbon
works best with the specified print media.
This could be a deal-breaker for small firms with a high
turnover rate that demand a fast printer.
Small businesses that prioritize the speed and effectiveness
of their copies may favor direct thermal printers.
This printing technology is ideally suited for label stickers
and receipts that do not require a lengthy shelf life.
If, on the other hand, your firm relies largely on the quality
of labels such as barcodes and uses a variety of packaging
materials, thermal transfer printers should be
your first choice.
Before commencing on your road of decision, you must first determine
the print method most frequently employed by enterprises
of all sizes.
What does it all mean, with so many options on the market
such as inkjet printing, direct thermal printing,
and thermal transfer printing?
A conventional inkjet printer operates by spraying or injecting
ink droplets from the ink cartridge onto the desired surface.
Since their invention in the 1950s, inkjet printers have changed
little throughout the years.
In contrast, thermal printers produced decades later
have seen substantial advancements, resulting
in two distinct thermal printing methods.
To achieve the desired result, direct thermal printing
employs a heating element in the printer to imprint
heat-activated label paper.
If you've ever received a receipt, it was likely printed
on a direct thermal printer.
As this approach does not require ink or printer ribbons,
the benefits of direct thermal printing are mostly monetary.
Label stock is the only component that requires
As its name suggests, thermal transfer printing utilizes
heat to chemically adhere the ink to a label.
The term "label" is used because thermal transfer
printers are more versatile in that they can
employ a wide range of media types, including
sticker labels, cardboard packaging,
and even padded envelopes.
All of this comes at a price, as thermal transfer
printer ribbons must be replaced frequently.