A variety of technologies are there to print images and text on paper and thermal printing leads such technologies for the immense possibilities that it offers. Heat is used in thermal printing for black and color printing by different techniques. If you intend to use thermal label printers, you should know the types, and uses of thermal printers to make a qualified decision for the right selection.
Types of Thermal Printers
Non-impact thermal printers use heat for registering a proper impression on the printing material. There are two types of thermal printers that are widely used for various applications and these are direct thermal printer and thermal transfer printers.
- Direct Thermal Printer: In a direct thermal printer, prints are made on coated papers by burning dots as the paper passes over a heated printhead. There is no ribbon used in direct thermal printer
- Thermal Transfer Printer: Such printers use thermal transfer ribbon containing wax-based ink. A thermal printhead heats the ribbon and the molten ink is transferred on a paper that gets permanent after cooling. Thermal transfer printing is very efficient to produce prints that can last for a long time.
Further, the thermal printers can be classified into two varieties such as monochrome and color. The dye sublimation thermal Colour Label Printers use ribbon having ink panels containing three colors, and a clear panel. The solid ink with heat turn to gas first before becoming a liquid, and further the inks are bonded to a specially designed coated paper. The color gets sealed to the proper place by the clear panel producing a durable, dry color image of excellent quality.
Both direct thermal and thermal transfer printer can produce high-definition text, crisp and clear prints and can be used for producing good quality barcode prints apart from others. The printing made in thermal transfer printer last longer and can withstand abrasion, moisture as well as exposure to UV light. On the other hand, direct thermal prints are best suited for use in controlled environments and for applications that are simpler having a shorter life span.
Applications of Thermal Printers
There are several applications of thermal printers and a few key applications are as follows:
- Office Equipment: Monochrome thermal printers are used for printing calculators, cash registers, and label machines extensively. Further, thermal receipt printers are used in credit-card readers, and compared to the inkjet ribbons used earlier in office equipment, that used to get jammed frequently, thermal printing is quite an improvement.
- Colour Photos: Dye-sublimation technology is used in many desktop photo printers for producing excellent color prints very quickly. Though inkjet printers also can produce color photos, the drying process is faster with dye-sublimation technology. Further, the cost of a thermal color printer as well as the color prints are reasonable.
- Other Uses: Thermal printers are also used to create T-shirts, coffee mugs, and several other items using graphic design or custom photos. Such items come with a special coating allowing to accept colored ink used by a thermal printer.