Direct thermal labels
Simple. Cost-effective.
Environmentally friendly.

Direct thermal labels

Direct thermal labels are a cost-effective type of label made with the direct thermal printing process. In this process, a thermal print head is used to selectively heat specific areas of coated, thermo-chromatic (or thermal) paper. The paper runs over the thermal print head then turns black where it’s heated, producing a desired image. Two-color direct thermal printing can create both red and black images by applying heat at two temperatures. Direct thermal labels use no ink, toner or ribbon, only chemically treated, heat-sensitive materials.

Common applications for direct thermal labels

Direct thermal labels have long been used for meat, poultry and dairy products. Today, improvements in thermal papers and direct thermal printers have made the technology a better fit for more products in nearly any market. Some common applications include:

  • Barcodes for many products, particularly for shipping labels, patient and visitor identification, receipts and ticket printing
  • Name tags and visitor passes
  • Coupons
  • Event tickets
  • Cost-effectively printing GHS-compliant labels
  • And more

Advantages of direct thermal labels

Direct thermal labels print on continuous reels or sheets and are highly cost effective for creating simple labels in large quantities. Since they use no thermal ribbon, they’re a more environmentally friendly option than thermal transfer labels, which use ribbons made partially from crude oil products. New, BPA-free and phenol-free thermal papers are even available for cleaner print runs. Direct thermal printers typically cost less to operate than inkjet, laser or thermal transfer printers. And they reduce waste and shipping weight — important drivers of cost and environmental concerns. Their other benefits include:

  • Time savings during the printing process, since thermal printing eliminates the need to monitor and reload ribbons
  • Elimination of wrinkling due to ribbons
  • Reduction in physical inventory

While direct thermal labels offer many advantages, they’re not suited for labels that must remain legible for years or survive particularly harsh environments. Direct thermal materials are highly sensitive to light, heat and heavy contact, making them susceptible to fading in the long term. But we have many other options for your heavy-duty applications and can guide you on the selection of the best materials.

Trusted service and solutions for any order

At Resource Label Group, we offer national reach with a local touch. We provide a complete range of label printing capabilities for any order, whether you need custom label design, cost-efficient short orders with digital labels or the largest runs of flexographic labels. We can quickly and cost-effectively supply you labels and support your inventory needs, while meeting any design customization you require.

No matter what challenges you face, whether it’s budget, schedule, logistics or other complexities, we’ll help you find the best solutions for your label. Our experienced team is here to guide you through each aspect of the label design and printing process with dedicated, local service. We provide you a smooth process and a label that’s right for your product, brand and budget.