June 26, 2017 - Tape & Label

Considerations for Direct Thermal Labels vs. Thermal Transfer Labels

Direct thermal and thermal transfer are two distinct types of label printing technologies. As a result, it’s important for printers to consider the following when opting for one or the other:

Consider Exposure to Thermal Printhead Elements

Direct thermal labels require the thermal printhead elements to be in direct contact with the label material in order for the printed image to appear. As a result, printheads used on direct thermal labels are susceptible to more wear and tear.

Thermal transfer labels, on the other hand, use a thermal transfer ribbon that serves as a protective buffer between the printhead elements and the label material. This reduces its level of thermal exposure and reduces printhead damage.

Therefore, it’s important to consider the needed printhead life when choosing direct thermal or thermal transfer labels.

Consider Equipment and Maintenance Requirements

Depending upon the chosen type of label, printing equipment and maintenance needs will vary. Direct thermal labels work well on more simplistic machines designed solely to handle this type of printing. This results in lower maintenance costs, as there are fewer parts that require service.

While thermal transfer label printers can handle both types of labels, the ribbon and ribbon hardware components require more complex equipment to be purchased and maintained. Additionally, changing the ribbon causes downtime, which increases costs and time.

Consider Environmental Aspects

As waste reduction and sustainability are top trends shaping the market, it’s important to consider how direct thermal and thermal transfer labels contribute to these efforts.

When using thermal transfer labels, the spent ribbons and cores must be disposed of, which means increased waste production. Direct thermal labels, on the other hand, do not require additional materials in their manufacturing.

Consider End Product’s Supply Chain Life

Prior to selecting a type of label, understand what the end product’s life entails in throughout supply chain. For example, the product may be exposed to extreme conditions, such as direct sunlight or chemicals. Additionally, it may need to be in storage for extended periods of time.

While direct thermal labels offer good performance levels, they do not hold up well when exposed to shorter life span, less harsh conditions. Thermal transfer labels, on the other hand, are better suited for these types of applications and are more able to withstand harsh environments.

Smart Adhesives for Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer Labels

No matter which type of label is chosen, it’s important the right adhesive is used in its construction. Bostik manufactures smart adhesives formulated to withstand a range of customers’ needs.

Additionally, we can custom formulate ones to meet even more specific requirements. Our capabilities combined with our extensive industry knowledge enable us to stand out in the label market, helping customers improve processes and overall product quality.

For more information on how Bostik’s label adhesives can help you, call 800-7-BOSTIK, or visit www.bostik.com/us.

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