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Direct Thermal Printing Can Be the Best Choice

When is Direct Thermal Printing the Best Choice

 Most organizations, institutions and businesses use thermal printers for label printing. These printers are ideal for printing barcode labels with high quality, accurate images. Companies have the option of choosing between two technologies, either direct thermal printing or thermal transfer printing.

Both apply heat to a surface to be printed using a thermal printhead. However each uses a different approach. Understanding how direct thermal printers work and their capabilities will help to confirm that a direct thermal printer is the best choice for your company.

Direct Thermal Printing Technology

Direct thermal printers use chemically treated heat activated labels. When the thermal printhead applies heat to the coated thermal tag or label, the media turns dark where the heat was applied. These printers are super efficient, not requiring a ribbon or any other consumable.

Direct thermal printing from Zebra and RMS OmegaRMS Omega Partners with Zebra Technologies

RMS Omega is proud to be partnered with Zebra Technologies, a leading manufacturer of printers. One of our sales representatives will be pleased to discuss the many advantages of using a Zebra direct thermal printer in your application, including:

  • Easy to use and durable
  • No additional supplies such as ink, toner or ribbon are required
  • Operational costs are less than other printer technologies including impact, laser, inkjet and thermal transfer
  • Environmentally friendly technology as there are no disposables
  • Applications include shipping labels, pick tickets, coupons, name tags, passes and much more


Most mobile systems use direct thermal printing, but there are a few limitations. Generally these printers are not used for lifetime applications, as the barcodes can fade or smudge when the media is exposed over time to extreme light or heat. Shelf life is usually considered to be one year or less. The label will also degrade if it is subjected to friction and rough use. As well, direct thermal printers only print in black, although some specialty applications are available, using preprinting and a special heat sensitive chromatic ink.

Choosing a Direct Thermal Printer

Our RMS Omega rep will review your operations, lay out your options and help you decide if a direct thermal printer is the best choice for your particular application. He will likely recommend direct thermal if you:

  • Need to print high density bar codes or other information in limited space
  • Only need black printing
  • Need a shelf life of one year or less
  • Know the label will not be subject to rough treatment
  • Only need to print on the standard direct thermal media