What Is Thermal Printing Technology and How It Works

2023-03-28 22:00

What is Thermal printing technology and how it works


Thermal printing is a popular technology used in various scenario, including print shipping label, receipt, invoice, price tags, documents and so on. Two types of thermal printing technologies are widely used - Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer. In this blog, we will compare Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer technologies, focusing on their pros and cons, especially in the context of thermal transfer printers versus traditional printers.

Thermal printing

Direct Thermal Printing: 

Direct thermal printing does not require the use of ribbon, ink, or toner. Rather, the print head exerts pressure and heat directly onto the heat-sensitive thermal paper's surface. The heat from the print head causes the thermal paper to react, resulting in the blackening of the paper and the creation of an image or text. Direct Thermal can be used for printing POS receipts, including those generated by retail stores, restaurants, supermarkets and other businesses. And it can also be used for printing shipping labels, allowing shippers to quickly and easily create labels for packages that are being sent out.


Direct thermal printers do not require ink or toner cartridges, which can be costly, and their compact size and lightweight construction also contribute to lower manufacturing and shipping costs. So these printers have a lower purchase price and require less maintenance and repair attention than thermal transfer printers and traditional printers. 

Direct Thermal

Thermal Transfer

Thermal Transfer Printing:

Thermal transfer printers differ from direct thermal printers in that the print head does not print directly onto the printing material's surface. Instead, it presses a wax-coated or resin-coated ink ribbon (or ribbons) onto the printing material's surface, melting the wax or resin and exposing the ink, which is then transferred and dried on the printing material. Thermal transfer technology can not only print labels or normal papers, it can also be used to print a variety of materials, including cards, films, streamers and and any other objects with glossy surface. And because of no ink is required, thermal transfer printers don't need to worry about clogging the print head, and don't need to worry about cleaning. One benefit of utilizing this thermal printer is that it produces prints that are more resistant to fading than those created by a direct thermal printer, and it has the ability to print in several colors simultaneously.

Thermal printing

Direct Thermal

Difference of these two technology


As mentioned above, due to the limitations of direct thermal technology, the printed content is very sensitive to temperature and cannot be stored for a long time. However, content printed using thermal transfer can be stored for a very long time. Additionally, because direct thermal printers do not require a ribbon, they are structurally simpler. On the other hand, thermal transfer printers require ribbon replacement, which may cause some technical issues, making the maintenance cost of thermal transfer printers potentially higher than that of direct thermal printers. Moreover, direct thermal printers can only print black and white, but thermal transfer printers can print color with ribbons of various colors. 

Thermal Transfer

In conclusion, both Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer printing technologies have their pros and cons. But thermal printers are a great option for printing signs, shipping labels, barcodes, and receipts if you're looking for a sustainable solution. Unlike inkjet printers, which are limited in terms of portability and have high consumable costs, thermal printers are more ideal for these applications. Although they may be more expensive initially, you will eventually save money on consumables and benefit from the long-lasting durability of thermal printers.

Come and get these printers at: 

Amazon Official Store US: https://www.amazon.com/hprt

Amazon Official Store JP: https://www.amazon.co.jp/hprt

Alibaba Official Store: https://hprt.en.alibaba.com

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