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How to choose between thermal printer and thermal-transfer printer?

How to choose between thermal printer and thermal-transfer printer?

  • 2023/06/30

Receipt printers and label printers are being widely used in various industries such as retail, logistics, warehousing, banking, tax control, and food delivery, serving as powerful tools to improve operational efficiency and ensure accurate information.

Based on the different printing methods, there are two technologies for receipt printers and label printers: thermal printing and thermal transfer printing.

Both methods use a thermal printhead to apply heat to the printing surface. The main difference lies in the fact that thermal transfer printing uses thermal transfer ribbons to create durable patterns on the paper, while thermal printing does not require a ribbon but uses thermal-sensitive paper. The heated printhead activates the chemicals on the thermal-sensitive paper, directly applying pressure and heat to the surface, causing the paper to react and turn black, generating images or text.

So, in daily life, how do we choose between thermal transfer printer and thermal printer? What are the differences in cost and in function?

Generally, the content printed with thermal printing tends to gradually fade and disappear over time, making it only suitable for printing documents that do not need to be preserved for a long time, for instance, food delivery tickets, supermarket cashiering tickets, express delivery waybills, parking tickets, queue machine tickets, admission tickets, etc.

On the other hand, thermal transfer printing can maintain the print content for a long time without fading or wearing off when in contact with solvents. It is commonly used for printing shelf labels, jewelry labels, drug labels, inventory management labels, patient wristband labels, barcode labels inside phone cases, and other labels and documents that are intended for long-term use.

With the maturity of technology, the prices of thermal transfer printers and thermal printers have dropped to a level that is affordable for the general public. At home, they are increasingly replacing inkjet printers and laser printers due to their low cost, flexible and convenient use, and compact size. With the decrease in prices of consumables, the actual cost of thermal transfer printing is even lower than traditional printing costs.

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