Label printers: thermal transfer vs. direct thermal

In warehouse and production logistics, label printers play a crucial role in the efficient organization of components and goods. Two common printing technologies used in this area are thermal transfer printing and direct thermal printing.

Thermal transfer printer

Thermal transfer printing

Thermal transfer printing uses heat to transfer ink from a ribbon to the label. The labels created in this way are particularly legible for a long time and are therefore suitable for the permanent labeling of shelf spaces or containers.

Direct thermal printing

With direct thermal printing, the label is directly influenced by heat, which creates text, barcodes or images on special, heat-sensitive material. This method is cheaper and sometimes faster, but the labels produced are less durable and only suitable for short-term applications such as shipping labels.

Both printing technologies can be used on different materials, including paper and plastic. Paper labels are cost-effective and versatile, while plastic labels offer greater resistance to environmental influences. The choice of material depends on the specific requirements of the application.

The right label printer

Direct thermal printers impress with their compact dimensions and low costs. Mobile models also enable targeted on-demand printing directly on site.

Label printers with the thermal transfer process can always also print direct thermal labels. The selection ranges from smaller desktop models to robust devices for high-volume use in warehouses and production halls.