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What is a thermal label and when can we use it?

Self-adhesive labels are a well-known carrier of information used in many areas of the modern economy. Depending on how they will be used, we choose the material from which they will be produced. In this article, we'll explain the difference between the two groups, which material works better for logistics, which for manufacturing, and what we can achieve using label printers.
Zebra ZD421
Honeywell CN80

Self-adhesive labels for short-term use.

Self-adhesive labels that we use in a short-term manner can be created from thermal raw material. This raw material (most often paper, but it can also be thermal film), changes its color when exposed to high temperatures (darkens).

Labels of this type are printed with special thermal printers. The print head located in the printer emitting heat. This results in a corresponding pattern (print) on the thermal layer. Such printing is legible for larger items, but is not suitable for printing items of very small size (small fonts).

The benefits of using thermal labels is the ability to print these labels without the use of thermal transfer ribbons, while the disadvantage is the low longevity of the printing (up to six months) and low resistance to adverse external conditions. These types of labels are used in a wide range of logistics, from warehouse logistics (as an element for marking products for a WMS-class warehouse management system) to courier services.

Drukarki Brother seria TJ -

Self-adhesive labels with greater durability- thermal transfer labels.

At the other pole of endurance relative to thermal labels we find thermal transfer labels. The printing process of this type of labels is carried out with the use of special transfer ribbons, which, under the influence of heat emitted by the print head of the label printer, transfer the printing elements from the ribbon to the label.

This technology allows to significantly increase the resistance of the printed label to external factors (temperature, the effects of adverse factors such as chemicals). This type of technology will work well wherever the durability of the printed label is important, that is, for example, in industrial settings or for marking fixed assets. 

Using the thermal transfer method, we can also print small items, for example, microscopic fonts, and if we use a suitable label printer, we will not lose their quality. A prerequisite, however, is to have a label printer with a high-resolution head.

What to print on a label printer?

Label printer is primarily used to print content enriched with a barcode or two-dimensional code. The use of barcodes makes it possible to automate label reading with the help of automatic identification devices (Auto ID) devices, such as code readers, making the process of identifying the goods bearing the label instantaneous.


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