Direct Thermal Labels vs Thermal Transfer Labels
There are two main types of thermal labels: direct thermal labels and thermal transfer labels. When looking to buy thermal labels, it’s important to know how the label will be applied, as the conditions the label is exposed to can affect its longevity.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of thermal label mentioned above. Both styles of printing feature a heated printhead which applies heat to the label to produce a finished label. A direct thermal label, however, does this process without using a thermal transfer ribbon and instead creates the image using heat applied directly to the thermal label.
Advantages/Disadvantages of Using Direct Thermal Labels
The advantage of using direct thermal labels is it reduces your need to buy wax or resin thermal transfer ribbons which can save you money. However, direct thermal printer labels are much more sensitive to light, heat, or otherwise harsh conditions which shortens their lifespan considerably. We recommend direct thermal labels for applications that do not require permanent labeling (tracking pallets between warehouses, temporary labeling of disposable products, etc).
Advantages/Disadvantages of Using Thermal Transfer Labels
Using thermal transfer printer labels is ideal for situations where the label will be exposed to chemicals, light, heat or other conditions that require a long-lasting label. The process for printing thermal transfer labels produces a high-quality image and can be used in a variety of applications.
The biggest disadvantage to using thermal transfer when printing labels is they require thermal transfer ribbons, and the ribbon can only be used once. While this method does ultimately raise costs, the printing quality makes thermal transfer labels the most reliable solution for printing barcodes, tickets, identification tags and other labels that will be resistant to fading over time.
If you're not sure if direct thermal labels or thermal transfer labels are suited to your use, be sure to contact us. One of our thermal label experts can guide you to the optimal label for your application!
Frequently Asked Questions About Thermal Labels
What Are Thermal Labels?
- Thermal labels are labels that use heat to create images.
What Is A Thermal Label Printer?
- A thermal label printer is a printer that uses digital printing to create images made from heat.
How Long Do Direct Thermal Labels Last?
- Once printed, direct thermal labels last anywhere from six to eight months on average.
How Long Do Thermal Transfer Labels Last?
- Once printed, thermal transfer labels can last up to seven years.