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Thermal Transfer Printing


Thermal Transfer Printing

Thermal transfer printers work by melting a wax or resin ribbon material onto a paper material when a heat source is passed over the ribbon by the thermal print head. The other method of printing using a thermal transfer printer is the Direct Thermal method. This method uses no ribbon & works by the chemically coated thermal material reacting when a heat source is passed over it, this process turns the material black which creates an image or printed text on the area the heat has activated.

Thermal transfer printers are used across a wide spread of industries & for a vast range of applications. The most common use is for barcode labels and address labels. You can use your printer to print variable information like sequential numbering of barcodes or just have a set of sequential numbers.

Couriers and shipping companies use thermal transfer printers for box end address labels. The most common size self-adhesive label for use in this application is 101.6mm x 152.4mm or 100mm x 150mm (4”x6”).

Other applications include promotional labels for price marking & many other retail applications. As well as standard paper labels it's also possible to print onto a vast range of materials including and polyethylene & polypropylene labels. These types of labels are used to label chemicals and can be used in outdoor conditions as they provide waterproof protection in harsh conditions.

There are 3 main standard widths of thermal transfer printers available are 4”, 6” & 8” labels. Label Metrics Ltd based in Hull supply a full range of Zebra thermal transfer printers.

The most popular printer is the Zebra LP2844. This 4 inch desktop printer is versatile and easily fits into most desktop environments without taking up much space.  This type Zebra printer is widely   used for shipping labels and barcodes.

See our full range of self-adhesive labels and ribbons for the correct combination.

Thermal transfer printers have a fixed thermal print head which the material passes under it does this by a rubber roller called the platen roller which grips the label and passes it between the print head. In thermal transfer mode the print head and the label sandwich a thermal transfer ribbon made from polyester and coated in ink (wax, wax resin and full resin) which is passed through the printed. Ribbons are supplied on cores and can be up-to 625meters in length. Most printers can run this label/ribbon combination process at speeds of 12”/sec and produce a fine print.

When the label and ribbon are run through the print head tiny pixels are heated and cooled this process melts the ink from the ribbon on-to the label material this is a quick process and the ink is dry instantly. Most thermal print heads are made up with 300 dpi you can however get a 600 dpi (dots per inch) which is used to print very fine barcodes.
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