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Thermal transfer printing

Thermal transfer printing

  • August 1,2015.

Thermal transfer printing


Thermal transfer printing is a digital printing process in which material is applied to paper(or some other material) by melting a coating of ribbon so that it stays glued to the material on which the print is applied. It contrasts with direct thermal printing where no ribbon is present in the process. It was invented by SATO corporation around the late 1940s.


Color thermal printers[edit]

Thermal printing technology can be used to produce color images by adhering a wax-based ink onto paper. As the paper and ribbon travel in unison beneath the thermal print head, the wax-based ink from the transfer ribbon melts onto the paper. When cooled, the wax is permanently adhered to the paper. This type of thermal printer uses a like-sized panel of ribbon for each page to be printed, regardless of the contents of the page. Monochrome printers have a black panel for each page to be printed, while color printers have either three (CMY) or four (CMYK) colored panels for each page. Unlike dye-sublimation printers, these printers cannot vary the dot intensity, which means that images must be dithered. Although acceptable in quality, the printouts from these printers cannot compare with modern inkjet printers and color laser printers. Currently, this type of printer is rarely used for full-page printing, and is now employed for industrial label printing due to its water fastness and speed. These printers are considered highly reliable due to their small number of moving parts. Printouts from color thermal printers using wax are sensitive to abrasion, as the wax ink can be scraped, rubbed off, or smeared. However, wax-resin compounds and full resins can be used on materials such as polypropylene or polyester in order to increase durability.

Usage of Thermal transfer  printers in industry includes:

·barcode labels (as labels printed with thermal printer tend not to last long), or for marking clothing labels (shirt size etc.)

·Printing plastic labels for chemical containers (because the cheaper types of plastic would melt in a laser printer)

Barcode printers typically come in fixed sizes of 4 inches, 6 inches or 8 inches wide. Although a number of manufacturers have made differing sizes in the past, most have now standard is based on these sizes. The main application for these printers is to produce barcode labels for product and shipping identification.

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