What are the differences between thermal transfer, direct thermal?

Thermal transfer printers utilize a thermal printhead to apply heat to a wax or resin-based ribbon. The ribbon ink is absorbed into the label material, creating a durable image that is ideal for applications requiring a longer-than-average shelf life.

Direct thermal printers use a thermal print-head as well but do not require a printing ribbon. Instead, the chemically treated label material blackens when it comes into contact with the hot print head, creating your image without the need for ink, ribbons, or toner. The resulting print is less durable, however, it’s ideal for short shelf-life applications.