In Thermal Transfer printers, the image appears when a substrate and ink ribbon contact a heated print-head. The heat from the print-head melts the ink on the ribbon and releases (transfers) the ink directly onto the substrate. The ribbon used in the printer is called a Thermal Transfer Ribbon, often abbreviated to TTR.
Thermal Transfer printing is a proven technique to deliver variable codes, such as barcodes, that always read or scan. It produces dense, high-resolution images – colour or black-and-white – and can be used on a wide variety of substrates. Thermal Transfer printing uses ribbon as transfer-agent. Thermal Transfer images are highly resistant to chemicals and extremely durable. The printers work at high speeds and require little maintenance.
Flat-head printers have a traditional printhead that can generally provide image resolutions between 200 and 600 dots per inch (DPI), in some cases, this can go up to 1200 DPI. Their ribbons are married with labels for a small distance to the peel point after passing the heating element. These models will generally print at speeds up to 12 inches per second (IPS). Some printers are able to print up to 20 IPS when the right ribbon is selected.
In contrast, near-edge printers with their floating printheads will run more than twice as fast. Speeds over 26 IPS are the norm where 55 IPS is also reached by certain printer-ribbon combinations. Ribbons for near-edge printers are married with labels only for an instant prior to the peel point, requiring a special formulation engineered for quick release of ink from the base PET film. A floating printhead means not having to make adjustments for various media thicknesses, but the image resolution for these printers is just 200 to 300 DPI
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