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What does Direct Thermal or Thermal Transfer mean?

Also commonly known as DT or TT respectively, Direct Thermal requires no ribbon whereas Thermal Transfer requires a ribbon.

Direct Thermal (DT) – no ribbon

Direct thermal printing utilizes heat sensitive media that blackens as it passes under the printhead (see figure 1). Because they print without a ribbon, direct thermal printers are noted for their simplicity. Direct thermal printed labels typically have a considerable shelf life but are not well suited for environments that expose them to heat, long periods of direct sunlight, or abrasion.

 

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Figure 1 Direct Thermal Printing

Thermal Transfer (TT) - ribbon required

Thermal transfer printed labels are easily identified by the crisp, often glossy, printed surface. The clarity is achieved by using a thin ribbon roll that when heated by the printhead melts onto the label to form the image (see figure 6). When matched with suitable media, thermal transfer technology is not only imperious to heat and moisture, but the image cannot be rubbed off, making the printed labels the most durable available. An additional benefit of this technology is the continuity of the printed image. Because the colour and density of the printed image is determined by the ribbon and the resolution of the printer, thermal transfer printing produces consistent, reliable printing on every label.

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Technology

Print Quality

Scanner Readability

Initial Installation Cost

Long-Term Maintenance Cost

Materials Waste

Dot Matrix

Fair

Low

Low/Moderate

Moderate/High

High

Ink Jet

Moderate

Low/Moderate

High

Moderate/High

High

Laser

Moderate

Moderate

High

Moderate/High

High

Direct Thermal

Moderate/Excellent

Moderate/Excellent

Moderate/High

Low

Low

Thermal Transfer

Excellent

Excellent

Moderate/High

Low

Low

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Phone

Christchurch:
0800 100 002
+64 3 344 2995

Auckland:
+64 9 415 7043

New Zealand: 0800 100 002 - Christchurch: +64 3 344 2995 - Auckland: +64 9 415 7043

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