How nice would it be not to have to deal with replacing ink cartridges over and over, not have to wait for your shipping label to be printed, or listen to the noise of a regular printer? With direct thermal labels, that’s a possibility. Direct thermal labels are used with thermal printers that apply heat from a print head which reacts with chemicals in the label to produce a clean crisp image. The advantages of using a direct thermal label are that it’s fast, accurate, uses no ink cartridges, more economical, and more reliable than a traditional printer and copy paper.

Direct Thermal vs Thermal Transfer

direct thermal labels

Before we get into the benefits of using direct thermal labels, it’s important to differentiate between them and thermal transfer. Thermal transfer printing requires the use of a wax or resin print ribbon to transfer heat from the print head to the label. Direct thermal printing does not use this ribbon and instead applies heat directly from the print head to the direct thermal label. Please refer to this Infographic to know the difference between direct thermal label and thermal transfer label.


When you go to a gas station and have a receipt printed after pumping your gas, odds are you’re holding a thermal label in your hand. There’s a good reason gas stations use direct thermal labels. They’re fast. It takes just milliseconds to thermal print a receipt compared to minutes with a traditional printer. Imagine if you had to wait a few minutes instead of seconds for your receipt. This is possible because thermal printers don’t have a ribbon with a print head attached that moves back and forth across the paper. Instead, they have a print head that directly applies heat to the surface of the thermal label. The speed of a thermal printer and thermal labels is very important, especially in large scale applications such as printing hundreds of shipping labels. With thermal labels, 100 shipping labels would print in minutes. It would take hours with a traditional printer.


Due to the fact that the ink is embedded in the paper instead of coming from the printer, thermal labels are more accurate. This is because there’s no ink coming from the print head that can smudge on the label. This is why EKG’s are done with thermal printers and labels. They need to be highly accurate for the doctor to be able to read them correctly.


A huge benefit of using thermal labels and printers is that they don’t use cartridges. Instead, the print head applies heat to the thermal label. This heat reacts with ink and chemicals embedded in the label to produce the image or whatever is being printed. So, you will never be left with the prospect of running out of ink in the middle of printing out shipping labels for your business.


Your wallet will thank you for using a thermal printer. It doesn’t use cartridges. Last time I bought a cartridge for my standard printer, it was $17 for just one cartridge. Now imagine having a business that prints out hundreds or thousands of labels a day. That means going through a lot of cartridges every month. A thermal printer also has almost no moving parts. This means far fewer maintenance costs for the printer. About the only thing you need to do with a thermal printer is to keep the print head clean.


Imagine your printer breaking down in the middle of a print job. With a thermal printer, this is far less likely. Thermal labels have a far less likelihood of jamming in a thermal printer because there are no moving parts. Also, due to the fact there are no moving parts, there are fewer things that can break down in a thermal printer.


So, with the benefits of speed, accuracy, no cartridges, price, and reliability, direct thermal labels along with a thermal printer are an obvious choice. So if you want to be able to print hundreds or thousands of shipping labels in minutes instead of hours, don’t like smudges or smears on your tracking bar codes, don’t want to have to pay for replacement cartridges, want to give your wallet a break, or can’t risk having your printer break down in the middle of a job, then direct thermal labels and printers are right for you.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author: Frank Ouyang

Frank Ouyang is the sales manager at Panda Paper Roll Company - a leading factory of thermal paper rolls, label rolls, and other print-related products in China. With extensive experience in the industry, Frank is an expert in thermal paper knowledge and enjoys sharing his insights and expertise with clients, helping them achieve their goals and maximize their success.
Notify of

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

Nice information, this is very helpful blog

Explore Our Paper Roll Products Collection

Ready to experience our paper roll products? Check them out, or contact us now for a quote. We’re here to assist you with any inquiries you may have.