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There are 2 types of thermal printing method, Direct Thermal (DT) and Thermal Transfer (TT).
Both of them produce different product durability for different application depending on the usage.
This method involves the use of thermochromic(heat sensitive) media that passes through a thermal printhead which generate heat selectively to blacken the media thus producing an image.
The heating elements are arranged in a matrix of small closely packed dot and they are able to produce sharp images up to 1200dpi (dots per inch) with good scan ability using only one consumable with fast speed using a very simplistic mechanism.
There are two grades of direct thermal paper label stock we use which are Non Top Coated which we class as Standard and Top Coated.
Since the media is impregnated with chemical dye (normally black), the shelf life is much shorter and easily affected by heat such as sunlight or abrasion. However, there are good quality medias that are top-coated that can last for 15 years without fading provided that they are handled in appropriate manner.
They are normally small, quiet, fast and consume less power which promotes portability and can be installed in commercial machines such as gas-filling pump, parking kiosk, POS systems, wristbands, slot machines, summon tickets and more.
This method involves the usage of a ribbon and a label sheet where they passed through the thermal printhead at the same time. The printhead applies heat to the ribbon to melt it’s coating onto the label to produce an image glued permanently to the label.
The polyester film ribbon can be coated with 3 different inks (wax, wax-resin and pure resin) for different application.
The label materials can be more than paper, including finely coated paper, or plastic such polypropylene, polyester and vinyl with increasing durability depending on the right combination of ribbon and label to harsh environment and subjected to abrasion, heat, chemical, water, oil or low temperature.
Generally the ink comes in monochrome (black) but can be also in colours such as CMY, CMYK, white, metallic silver, metallic gold and more with higher cost.
TT printhead can be 203 dpi, 300 dpi or highest at 600 dpi for very fine printing. The speed of TT printer can reach up to 12 inches per second and because of this, these sophisticated printers normally equipped with powerful processors and high memory capacity.
These barcode printers normally comes in fixed sizes of 4 inches, 6 inches, or 8 inches.
What to determine when you have decided to buy a barcode printer for your own use?
Tag stock/continuous media
Dots Per Inch (DPI)