Actually thermal transfer printing and thermal direct printing are two ways of printing, but both ways printers must have a thermal printer head, thermal transfer printing needs a ribbon and use printer heads heat to transfer the image from ribbon to the labels, thermal direct printing means using the printer heads heat to print on labels directly, but it requires the label must be the thermal coated model.
The application of thermal transfer label and thermal direct label:
How to choose a proper thermal label for your printers, it is based on what application of the label you need, Direct thermal label is thermal coated printing raw material which will become black when it passes under the thermal printhead. Direct thermal printers no need to use ink, toner, or ribbon to print .Their simple design makes thermal printers durable and easy to use. Because there is no ribbon, direct thermal printers cost less to operate than inkjet, laser, impact, and thermal transfer printers. Most mobile printers use direct thermal technology. Thermal media images may fade over time. If the label is overexposed to heat, light, or other catalysts, the material will darken and make the text or barcode unreadable. For these reasons, direct thermal printing is not used for lifetime identification applications. The readability of direct thermal labels, wristbands, and receipt papers varies greatly, depending on the usage conditions, but the technology provides ample lifespan for many common barcode printing applications including shipping labels, patient and visitor identification, receipts, and ticket printing.
For example, direct thermal labels can easily remain scannable after spending six months in storage in a distribution center, and direct thermal patient wristbands have a special coating that makes them water- and chemical-resistant. Common thermal printing applications include: shipping labels, including compliance labels; receipts; pick tickets; coupons; event tickets; citations and parking tickets; name tags; visitor passes; and more.
In thermal transfer printing, a thermal printhead applies heat to a ribbon, which melts ink onto the material to form the image. The ink is absorbed so that the image becomes part of the media. This technique provides image quality and durability that is unmatched by other on-demand printing technologies.