Browse Definitions:
Definition

thermal transfer printer

Contributor(s): Mohammad Anwar Hossain

A thermal transfer printer is a non-impact printer that uses heat to register an impression on paper. A thermal transfer printer has a printhead containing many small resistive heating pins that on contact, depending on the type of thermal transfer printer, melt wax-based ink onto ordinary paper or burn dots onto special coated paper. A microprocessor determines which individual heating pins are heated to produce the printed image. The printhead spans the entire width of the paper or medium to be printed on. Thermal transfer printers are popular for printing bar codes, labels, price tags, and other specialty print jobs. There are two types of thermal transfer printers: direct thermal and thermal wax transfer.

Direct thermal: The direct thermal printer prints the image by burning dots onto coated paper as it passes over the heated printhead. Direct thermal printers do not use ribbons. Early fax machines used direct thermal printing.

Thermal wax transfer: This type of printer uses a thermal transfer ribbon that contains wax-based ink. Heat is applied to the ribbon using a thermal printhead that melts the ink transferring it to the paper where it is permanent after it cools. A typical thermal transfer ribbon consists of three layers: the base material, the heat melting ink, and the coating on the print side of the base material. The coating and base material help keep ink from adhering to the printhead which can cause poor print quality. Monochrome and color thermal transfer ribbons are available. It is recommended that the printhead be cleaned between each ribbon change with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol.

The cost of a thermal transfer printer varies depending on the size of the printer and the features included. The cost of consumables such as paper, ribbons, and printheads is about the same for both types of printers. The print quality depends on the printer, the ribbon, the paper, and the environment such as where the printer is stored, the temperature, and the humidity.

This was last updated in May 2010

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • biometrics

    Biometrics is the measurement and statistical analysis of people's unique physical and behavioral characteristics.

  • principle of least privilege (POLP)

    The principle of least privilege (POLP), an important concept in computer security, is the practice of limiting access rights for...

  • identity management (ID management)

    Identity management (ID management) is the organizational process for identifying, authenticating and authorizing individuals or ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close