Thermal Transfer Vs Direct Thermal

Thermal Transfer Printing

Face stock & Ribbon

Internal of thermal transfer printer
Advantages Disadvantages
  • Different face stock/ribbon combinations can provide scratch, smudge and chemical resistance
  • Less expensive material than Direct Thermal
  • All material is scan-able in both visible and infrared light
  • Much more face stock choices
  • Longer printhead life
  • Can be very costly for short term applications
  • Timely and messy to change ribbons
  • Ribbon lengths rarely match label rolls lengths

Direct Thermal Printing

Face stock only

Primera lx200 color label printer
Advantages Disadvantages
  • More cost effective for short term, visible light scanable, paper applications
  • Less down time on printer without having to change the ribbon
  • Most used in medical applications where the end-user cannot afford to waste time or get hands dirty from the ribbon
  • Glove friendly adhesive for medical applications
  • Cannot withstand UV light or high temperature exposure
  • Face stock costs more for near infrared or infrared scanability
  • Shorter shelf life
  • No options for scratch resistance
  • Few options for chemical resistance
  • Costly to replace the printhead more often