We have all seen the thermal printer that is used at the point of sale when we buy something and use our credit card to pay for it. They are seen in restaurants and in service stations. The information to be printed is put on the paper by a heat process that transfer the wax or wax and resin to the paper. These same printers can also be used to make thermal transfer labels and while you may not have seen them printed you have been seeing the labels more and more in your personal or professional life. And if you have not seen them, you have benefited from their use.
Thermal transfer labels have the advantage over other thermal transfer processes in that they are long lasting and will not be effected by either heat or sunlight. This makes them effective for shipping labels that will be exposed to the elements. If shipping labels were to become faded or smudged the whole purpose of the label would be lost. Therefore they are made to last until the package is delivered to the recipient. The direct thermal labels can be produced rapidly so that they are ready for application on a moments notice. They can also be produced at less of a cost because there are not as many moving parts in the thermal printer.
Another place where thermal transfer labels are coming into play on a major scale is in the use of bar codes. In many cases bar codes are placed on items for inventory control and location when in storage. The warehouse areas can be subject to temperature changes and humidity. Regular labels could fade to the point of being unreadable and the bar codes would be worthless. These labels have an advantage over direct thermal labels in that the information becomes almost permanent and the items can be rapidly identified when located.
Thermal labels can be printed with a variety of printers. One well-known brand is Zebra, which manufactures the Zebra ZM400 Printer, as well as other industrial, commercial and high-performance printers. The ZM400 accepts a variety of label sizes.
When a long lasting label that will withstand the abuse of rubbing, heat or humidity is needed, go with the thermal transfer labels. The other labels such as Direct Thermal Coated or Uncoated Labels, Standard Thermal Transfer Labels, or Direct Thermal Labels may be similar but will not take the rough handling that will often be needed in a label application.