There is a lot of talk about whether direct thermal or thermal transfer printing is the better choice for your tags and labels. You may get different answers depending on who you speak with. However, it really depends on your individual needs.
Direct thermal printing involves the direct application of the heated print head to a specially treated paper. Once the heat is applied, the image is then burned directly onto the paper. Many people prefer direct thermal printing because it does not use ribbons. On the other hand, the special type of paper that is used is not very durable and does not last long. It is similar to fax paper. Over time the paper will fade and start to discolor. Direct thermal printing is best for short term use, like shipping and packaging labels.
On the other hand there is thermal transfer printing. This type of printing requires a ribbon. In thermal transfer printers, the heat of the print head transfers the image through the wax and/or resin ribbon to your label. As opposed to direct thermal printing, the image on your label or tag will last for years. If your label is going to be exposed to the outdoors or constantly changing elements, thermal transfer printing is the way to go.
Quick Reference to Choose the Right Method:
Direct Thermal Printing Is Best for:
-labels needed for short term use
-you want to print without using a ribbon
Thermal Transfer Printing Is Best for:
-labels that need to be durable
-labels that will be exposed to outdoors and/or changing conditions
-labels needed for long-term use