Category: Thermal transfer printer

Labels and cable markers can be printed with high quality using a thermal transfer printer. For industrial labelling, the thermal transfer printing process is ideal because it produces permanent and very durable markings with little effort. In addition, thermal transfer printing can be used to permanently print on a wide range of materials. To ensure high quality, both the printer and the ribbon must match the corresponding label or marker. Texit thermal transfer printers can be combined with our ink ribbons in any way. We have the right printer for both occasional needs and large industrial projects.
Thermal transfer printer
Information on thermal transfer printers

How does a thermal transfer printer work?

In a thermal transfer printer, heat is used to melt the printing ink from the thermal transfer ribbon onto the material to be printed. Due to the selectively high temperature, the ink particles bond firmly with the label / marker. This is where the name thermal transfer printing comes from - a print created by heat transfer. This transfer takes place inside the printer, more precisely at the print head. There, a large number of small, computer-controlled heating elements are located, which enable precise, high-quality printing on paper and plastic. A sensor in the printer detects the position of the material to be printed and can precisely control the heating elements based on the specified print layout.

The correct preparation of the thermal transfer printer

In thermal transfer printing, it is important that both the printer and the ribbon are precisely matched to the material to be printed. This is the only way to achieve high-quality printing results. At the beginning of the printing process, the material to be printed must first be placed on the holder and inserted into the material guide. Then the ribbon must also be placed on the holder provided. From there, about 30 cm of ribbon is unwound and attached to the roll core with an adhesive strip. This way, the used ribbon is directly rewound during the printing process. The ribbon must be firmly tensioned on both the unwinder and the rewinder
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The winding of the printing material and the ink ribbon is particularly important. There are internally and externally wound material and ribbon. Both variants can be used with all Texit thermal transfer printers without any problems, however, when loading the material / ribbon, attention must be paid to the guide. In general, the material guide on the print head must always be aligned upwards, while the ink-carrying layer on the ribbon must be aligned downwards. A corresponding exploded view with a detailed illustration of the guide is included with every Texit printer. Another important point is the sensor positioning. If the material to be printed does not pass through the light barrier without interference, it will be detected incorrectly or not at all by the printer.

After the material and the ribbon have been placed correctly in the printer, the print head can now be closed. Finally, by pressing the "FEED" button on the printer, the material to be printed is calibrated and the zero point is thus automatically adjusted. If no error messages are shown in the display, printing can be started.

The comparison of direct thermal printing vs. thermal transfer printing

Both direct thermal and thermal transfer printing are processes in the thermal printing category. In both processes, printing is done with the help of selective heat. The difference between the two types of printing is that direct thermal does not use ink in the true sense. Only specially treated material can be printed on. The heat causes a chemical reaction in the material, which then changes colour. The printing results come exclusively from this chemical reaction. This is why it is not possible to choose from different colours with the direct thermal process. In addition, the print is not very durable and therefore less suitable for permanent marking. However, it is cheaper than thermal transfer printing. The thermal transfer printer uses special ink ribbons made of wax, resin or a mixture of both materials. The ink is melted / transferred from the ink ribbon to the label / cable marker to be printed by the selective effect of heat. This produces very durable and robust printing results.

Advantages of the thermal transfer process

The thermal transfer process has many advantages for permanent marking. As the effect of heat melts the ink from the Thermal transfer ribbon is melted onto the material, a new robust layer is created on the material. The print results are extremely durable (if the ribbon and the material to be printed are well matched) and still legible even under heavy load.

Even when in contact with oils, petrol or alcohols, the print remains scratch and smudge resistant. In addition, the ribbon can be used in the corresponding colour of choice and coloured prints are therefore also possible. The thermal transfer printer can be used to print on a wide range of materials without the need for special treatment. The printing process can therefore be used very flexibly in the various sectors of industry. In summary, the advantages of thermal transfer printing are as follows:

- Extremely robust and consistent results with high print quality

- Imprints are scratch and smudge resistant even when in contact with oils, petrol or alcohols

- With a thermal transfer printer you can print in different colours

- Labels and cable markers can be printed from very different materials

- Flexible printing process in the industry

Which materials can be printed with the thermal transfer printer?

A great advantage of the thermal transfer printer is that, as a rule, very different materials can be printed with one printer. In general, paper, textile fabric and plastic are equally suitable for thermal transfer printing. However, since paper labels are not suitable for permanent marking, we will go into more detail here about the various plastics and textile fabric. Labels and cable markers made of plastic are particularly suitable for permanent marking of machines, systems and cables. They are robust, durable and high quality printing results can be achieved using the thermal transfer process. Each of the plastic types listed below can be labeled very well with a thermal transfer printer. The choice of the appropriate thermal transfer rib bon depends on the type of plastic. For permanent marking, it is important that the type of plastic fits your requirements and that the thermal transfer printing system is optimized for the material to be printed.

Polyester

Smudge & scratch resistant, resistant to high temperatures, humidity and UV rays, resistant to chemicals, oils and alcohols. Adheres well to smooth surfaces

Vinyl (PVC)

Smudge & scratch resistant, very conformable, resistant to high temperatures, moisture and UV rays, resistant to chemicals, oils and alcohols. Adheres well even on uneven and difficult surfaces

Polyolefins (PE & PP)

Smudge & scratch resistant, resistant to high temperatures, humidity and UV rays, resistant to chemicals, oils and alcohols, high electrical insulating capacity.

Polyethylene (PE) document film

Smudge & scratch resistant, very conformable, resistant to high temperatures, humidity and UV rays, resistant to chemicals, oils and alcohols. Adheres even to difficult surfaces, even destroying when attempting to peel off.

Polyimide (PI)

Extremely heat resistant (up to +398°C for short periods), smudge & scratch resistant, resistant to moisture and UV rays, resistant to chemicals, oils and alcohols.

Polyether - Polyurethane

Smudge & scratch resistant, resistant to high temperatures, moisture and UV rays, resistant to chemicals, oils and alcohols, particularly robust and suitable for heavy-duty use.

Textile fabric

Smudge & scratch resistant, resistant to high temperatures and humidity, resistant to chemicals, alcohols, oils and petrol. Adheres reliably even to the most difficult surfaces.

Thermal Transfer Printer Applications & Use

Thermal transfer printers, thanks to their versatility, are used in very many technical fields. Due to the high print quality and consistency of the print results, they are very suitable for industrial use. A thermal transfer printer can print on paper and textile fabrics as well as on various types of plastics. This type of printing is very often used for the production of industrial labels.

Since you can achieve excellent contrast sharpness with the thermal transfer process, barcodes can also be printed well with it. The prerequisite for this is the optimal matching of material, thermal transfer ribbon and printer. Since thermal transfer printing is extremely robust, smudge & scratch resistant, it is also suitable for labeling type plates for individual parts, machines and systems. Another important application of the thermal transfer process is permanent cable marking. To facilitate regular maintenance work and due to numerous safety aspects, cable markers are very often labeled using thermal transfer printers. The most common applications for thermal transfer printers are the:

- Durable Cable labelling

- Printing of Machine signs

- Printing of Industrial labels, especially barcode labels Product labelling

- Printing of warning signs and (tamper-proof) test badges

Thermal Transfer Printer FAQ

We receive many questions about thermal transfer printers and printing systems every day. As we would like to offer you help and support, we have compiled an overview of the most frequently asked questions. If the answer you are looking for is not listed here or if you need additional information from us, simply contact our service team at Contact with our service team! We will be happy to advise you personally and individually on your requirements.

Frequently asked questions

FAQ

What does dpi mean?

Dpi is an abbreviation for "dots per inch". Translated, it means "dots per inch". This is the common unit of measurement for the print resolution of a printer. A resolution of 300 dpi means that there are 300 colour dots per inch. Converted to millimetres, this corresponds to 12 dots per millimetre. The higher the number of dots per inch, the better the resolution and the higher the quality of the print result. The most common print resolutions for thermal transfer printers are 203, 300 and 600 dpi.

What is thermal printing?

Thermal printing is a category for printing processes in which the print is created by the application of heat at specific points. In these processes, heat is used to create the print in the printer via the print head. There are 3 different types of printing that fall under the category of thermal printing: Direct Thermal Printing, Thermal Transfer Printing and Dye Sublimation Printing. For durable cable labelling and labels with high print durability, the thermal transfer process is best suited.

What is a thermal label printer?

A thermal label printer is a printer for printing labels from the category of the thermal printing process. In the thermal printing process, the print result is produced by the application of heat at specific points. With a direct thermal printer, the label material is heated selectively. The heat acts as a catalyst and sets off a chemical reaction. This reaction produces the print on the material without additional ink. In the thermal transfer process, the colour of the ribbon is melted onto the label material by heat. Which thermal label printer is suitable for you depends on your individual requirements.

How does a label printer print?

Most label printers print using the direct thermal or thermal transfer process. These two methods have proven very successful in label printing. Which method is used depends on the printing requirements. Direct thermal printing works without ink and is therefore cheaper but less durable. For the thermal transfer printing process, additional ink ribbons are required. The printing results with this thermal printing process are very robust and have a high durability. This is why most labels in industry are printed with the thermal transfer process.

How do I find the right thermal transfer printer?

Choosing the right thermal transfer printer depends on your printing requirements, the frequency of printing and the material you use. The type of ribbon does not matter when choosing a printer, as Texit ribbons are compatible with all thermal transfer printers. The material to be printed on can be paper as well as a variety of plastics using the thermal transfer process. Are your labels / cable markers continuous material? Then you usually need a printer that feeds the material centrally. For double-sided printing, you must choose a printer that has two print heads. This can then print the material from two sides at the same time. For occasional printing, an entry-level model is sufficient, but if you need to print frequently and in large quantities, you should opt for a high-performance model. In summary, the following questions are important for finding the right thermal transfer printer:

- Will you use the printer regularly or only occasionally?

- How high is the print volume?

- What material are the labels / cable markers to be printed made of?

- Is it endless format material?

- Would you like to be able to print on both sides of the material?

These questions will help you quickly find the right thermal transfer printer. Do you have any further questions or do you need support in choosing a printer? Then simply contact our service team. You can do this directly online at our website or of course by e-mail / telephone. We will be happy to help you choose the right printer!

How is a thermal printer constructed?

The exact design of a thermal printer depends on the type of thermal printing process. There are three different processes: The direct thermal, the thermal sublimation and the thermal transfer process. What all these methods have in common is that the print is produced by the action of heat. This is why all thermal printers have a print head with heating resistors in addition to the material guide. The dye sublimation and thermal transfer printers also have two coils for the ribbon, which runs between the print head and the material to be printed.

During the printing process, the material to be printed and, if applicable, the ink ribbon are fed past the print head. A sensor detects the material and controls the print head, which produces the print result on the material (usually paper or plastic film) by applying heat at specific points. While in the thermal transfer or thermal sublimation process the print is produced by the melting / evaporation of the ink on the ribbon, the print in the direct thermal process is based on a chemical reaction of the material itself catalysed by the heat.