What Are Direct Thermal Labels?


Shipping box being labeled with a direct thermal label

If you’ve ever wondered, “What are direct thermal labels?” we’ve got all your answers right here. Thermal labels offer a host of advantages that are well-suited to applications across numerous industries.

This article will answer the question, “What are thermal labels?” We’ll also look at their many benefits and explore the differences between direct thermal labels and thermal transfer labels.

What Are Thermal Labels?

Direct thermal labels are ideal for short-term labeling applications that demand crisp, clean images. They’re printed using the direct thermal process, which doesn’t require toner, ink or ribbons. The labels are well-suited for high-volume applications.

What Is Thermal Printing?

Direct thermal printing is a process that produces images on labels that are chemically treated to react to heat. It uses a hot thermal print head to expose the labels to heat and create the image.

What Are the Advantages of Direct Thermal Labels?

The overall low cost of printing they afford is a primary advantage of direct thermal labels. The ease of running a direct thermal printer is another essential benefit, as are its low maintenance costs. Direct thermal printers are also more durable than dot matrix or inkjet printers.

 Because they don’t require ink, toner or ribbons, direct thermal printers are simple and less expensive to operate. The printers usually result in less downtime since they have fewer components to break or wear down. With no ribbons to spend time replacing, direct thermal printers also help to improve uptime.

Compact direct thermal printers are great for the on-the-go, mobile printing.

The Types of Direct Thermal Labels

Direct thermal labels are available in a wide range of stock sizes, including popular sizes such as 4″ x 6″ and 4″ x 3″. Premium Label Supply provides the labels on 1″, 1.5″ and 3″ cores to suit your specific needs. They offer a strong permanent adhesive for superior adhesion and a top coating for added protection.

Direct Thermal Label Applications

Shipping may be the first application to come to mind when you think of direct thermal labels, but they’re ideal for numerous uses. You can find these labels in applications like:

  • Barcodes
  • Name tags
  • Visitor passes
  • Packaging labels
  • Pharmaceutical labels
  • Food labeling
  • Restaurant order labels
  • Pick tickets
  • Inventory labels
  • Box labels

Industries that use direct thermal labels include:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Shipping
  • Grocery
  • Warehousing 
  • Healthcare

Direct Thermal Labels vs. Thermal Transfer Labels

Unlike direct thermal printing, thermal transfer printing uses a ribbon to apply ink to a label and create an image. Thermal transfer labels are more durable than direct thermal labels, but they also are more expensive to print. Because the ribbon retains an imprint of the image, thermal transfer labels aren’t the best choice for applications requiring a high degree of privacy.

When choosing between direct thermal labels and thermal transfer labels, you’ll want to consider factors like:

  • Durability
  • Privacy requirements
  • Label material
  • Overall costs

Frequently Asked Questions About Direct Thermal Labels

What Is the Size of the Direct Thermal Label Market?

The global direct thermal label market is valued at $4.02 billion.

Are Direct Thermal Labels Waterproof?

Our in-stock options are not waterproof, but you can custom order waterproof direct thermal labels. Order minimums apply.

How Should Direct Thermal Labels Be Stored?

Direct thermal labels should be stored at room temperature in an environment free from light, moisture and chemicals.

Are Direct Thermal Labels Compatible With My Labeling Software?

Direct thermal labels are compatible with a broad array of labeling software. Contact our team to learn if your software is compatible.

What Type of Printer Do I Need for Direct Thermal Labels?

A direct thermal printer is required to print these labels.

What is the Lifespan of a Direct Thermal Label?

Direct thermal labels last about six months, making them suitable for a wide array of short-term applications.

Order Direct Thermal Labels From Premium Label Supply

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