Thermal Transfer Labels
Thermal Transfer label printing, requiring a ribbon, is the popular choice when it comes to printing variable data on demand. Thermal Transfer labels offer greater durability, provide more protection against environmental conditions, and yields a longer shelf life.
Direct Thermal Transfer Labels
Direct Thermal labels do not require a ribbon for printing data such as bar codes, text and graphics. Direct Thermal labels utilize a special thermally reactive coating on the label surface that reacts with the heat from the printer’s printhead. Typically Direct Thermal applications require a shorter shelf life than Thermal Transfer applications.
How to Tell The Two Apart
There is one simple test that you can use to tell if a label is direct thermal. Take the label and scratch it quickly with your fingernail as if you were lighting a match. It may take a couple of hard strikes. If a dark mark appears on the label, it is direct. If no dark marks are left on the label, it is thermal transfer. Some coated labels may take a quicker, harder strike to leave a mark.