What is Thermal Printing?
Thermal printing is a process that requires heat to transfer an image onto paper.
There are two types of thermal printers; direct thermal and thermal wax transfer.

Alphatech Services Direct Thermal Printing
Alphatech Services Thermal Wax Transfer

Thermal Wax Transfer

Thermal wax transfer uses a thermal transfer ribbon that contains wax-based ink. Heat is applied to the ribbon using a heated print head that melts the colored wax ink onto the paper.

Thermal printing is an inexpensive alternative to high-quality printing. The printers do not usually take up a lot of space and they are quiet to operate making them a good solution for many retail and ATM receipts, and a wide variety of tag and labeling needs.

Thermal Transfer vs. Direct Thermal
There are some important facts to consider before deciding between thermal transfer printing and direct thermal printing. Both offer effective results, but depending upon the specific application, one may be more effective than the other.

Color Considerations
Thermal transfer printing can use different ribbons to allow you to easily choose from a variety of different ink colors to suit your needs. In direct thermal printing, the print color is limited to black (unless you purchase specialty papers).

Printing Details
While both processes result in quality products, the overall results are less precise in direct thermal printing than thermal transfer. While unlikely noticeable to the naked eye, this is an important consideration for bar code and any other automated readers where clarity of the printing is critical.

Substrates and Durability
Thermal transfer can be used on a wide variety of substrates including paper, film and foil. Direct thermal printers require the use of special heat activated thermal papers and films. It is important to note that over time, these specialized papers can darken, especially if exposed to heat and/or sunlight. Most agree that the shelf-life of direct thermal prints is about 1 year while labels printed via thermal transfer will last much longer.