What is Thermal Printing?
There are 2 types of thermal printing: direct thermal and thermal transfer.
Both processes employ a thermal print head that submits heat to the surface being utilized.
Direct Thermal Printing
With direct thermal printing, a chemically enhanced, heat-sensitive media is passed under a thermal printhead. The heat sensitive material then darkens in the appropriate area, creating an image. There is no wax ribbon, ink or toner used with direct thermal printing. Most media used for direct thermal printing is more defenseless to light, heat and abrasion and can result in a short lifespan. Most shipping labels, receipts, visitor identification badges and common bar coding are created using this method.
Thermal transfer printing uses a thermal wax ribbon. The ribbon is heated to manufacture resilient, long-term images on a wide assortment of materials. The selected media is sent through a thermal transfer printer where the heat is applied to the ribbon and wax is then melted to create an image. The ink gets immersed into the media creating an image with higher quality and has a longer durability.
With thermal transfer printers a large variety of media can be used including paper, polypropylene and polyester. Thermal transfer printing can be used in the medical field for prescription purposes, or file tracking. It can be used in logistics for barcoding, product identification and shipping, or it can be used in the education field for student identification or file processing. They can also be used in both extreme cold and hot environments, ultraviolet coverage, chemical applications and much more.
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