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thermal transfer label uses

In simple terms, a thermal transfer label is a label that is transferred via an ink ribbon, with one side of the label coated in either wax, resin or a mixture of both depending on desired quality. The material is coated with a print receptive film suitable for the accepting wax, wax/resin and resin ink ribbons.

Thermal transfer printers are suitable for desktop, on-demand printing. They come in a range of different materials (vinyls, polyesters etc), suitable as waterproof and equipment labels. Paper labels are favoured in packaging and shipping.

In essence, it is a faster and cleaner process than direct thermal printing, hence its mainstay in so many industries.

What is Thermal Transfer Printing?

Thermal transfer labels are converted by using thermal transfer printers, label stock and thermal ribbons. When a thermal transfer label passes through a thermal print head, the heat from the printer causes the ink ribbon to bind off the film and on to the surface the film it is attached to.

Wax is the cheapest film available but it is not scratch or chemical resistant (and is usually used on paper). Wax/resin is the mid-range option offering scratch resistance but not chemical resistance. Resin is the crème de la crème of thermal transfer labels, boasting both scratch and chemical resistance and tends to be used for the more difficult environments.

The advantages of thermal printing are its relative speed and lack of downtime. Direct transfer printing is seen as much more environmentally damaging and time-intensive, so the extra cost of thermal transfer labels pays dividends due to savings in time and efficiency.

Uses for Thermal Transfer Labels

Despite the lack of knowledge about thermal transfer labels, they are a common item for many people in the modern world. However, in a world where there appears to be countless labels, what are thermal transfer labels actually “good” at? Principally, thermal transfer labels are used most in the following industries:

  • Shipping – Every box that is shipped professionally will use a thermal transfer label. The printing process can quickly and clearly print barcodes, invoices, and shipping addresses, making them an ideal companion in the busy world of shipping.
  • Equipment labels – Used in the automotive, engineering, aerospace, and medical equipment industries.
  • Short-run demand – Excels for short-run requirements thanks to its quick set up and easy use. Thermal transfer labels are preferred in workspaces with many changes in information such as equipment models, serial numbers, and electricity voltages.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Pharmaceutical packaging needs to adhere to strict rules regarding its labelling of products. Each label needs to express information such as expiry dates, batch numbers, dosages, and any other associate prescription information. Putting all this information on one label is time-consuming, hence why producers opt for the speed and guaranteed quality of thermal transfer labels.
  • Quality Control Labels – Uses in quality control and assembly lines are also popular. Thermal transfer labels are usually produced at specific manufacturing quality control points. This, via barcodes, keeps track of products and assures they are being evaluated safely. As a customer-facing tool, quality control thermal transfer labels can convey important safety information to the customer, including the serial number, model number, contact numbers, etc.
  • Food Packaging – Thermal transfer labels can assure food packing fits proper specifications and stays aesthetically pleasing. The quality of the labels ensures they remain neat and tidy to the eye, plus their properties lend themselves well to a variety of artistic designs and typographies, allowing brands to personalise to their heart’s content.
  • Barcoding and price tagging – Thermal transfer labels are the preferred material for barcodes. Barcoding allows stores and businesses to track orders and stock while also providing an essential blanket of security. Every product needs to be tagged with a barcode, price, colour, style, materials, etc.

Overall, thermal transfer labels, thanks to their thermal transfer ribbon, have revolutionised the way people approach several of the most important industries at the heart of commercial trade.

It pays to have good labels and Label Source has stocked the best in thermal transfer labels. For more from the ever-changing world of labels, be sure to follow Label Source on Facebook and Twitter.