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  5. Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer
  1. Home
  2. Knowledge Base
  3. Hardware
  4. Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer

Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer

While there are plenty of printers and materials out there to choose from for your store, selecting the right type can save you time and money in the long run.

The most common printers in the retail world use either direct thermal printing or thermal transfer printing. Read this article to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.

Thermal Transfer

Thermal Transfer printers require a ribbon to transfer ink onto the material. The ribbon heats up and transfers data onto the paper or label.

Thermal Transfer labels are typically more durable than Direct Thermal and last longer under direct light, making them a great fit for product labels.

Direct Thermal

Direct Thermal printers use heat instead of ink or ribbon. The printer heat reacts to the chemicals on the label, causing data to appear, such as barcodes and product names. That’s why selecting the right printing material, such as the label, is important. Using a thermal transfer label will cause the data to print incorrectly with a Direct Thermal printer. 

A disadvantage of Direct Thermal labels is that they fade quicker than Thermal Transfer labels due to their sensitivity to light, and are better suited for printing receipts or disposable labels like shipping labels. 

Removable Adhesive and Permanent Adhesive

CerTek offers removable adhesive labels and permanent adhesive labels. Removable labels are easier to take off of surfaces and are great for temporary use. Permanent labels are better for long-term use. 

On invoices from us or on our webstore, you’ll see a product name with a specific acronym at the end. For example, an SSL-101-TTR is a Thermal Transfer Removable label.

Below is a list of commonly used labels that work great for a variety of industries. To purchase materials for your store, visit our webstore. Or, contact the Sales Department at sales@certek.com or (877) 723-7835.


One of our most common labels, sized at 1 1/8″ by 9/16″. These labels come as three across, making your processes more efficient since you can print more labels at once. The 3UP series also comes in TTP, DTR, and DTP.


Another commonly ordered label at 3/4″ by 7/16″. These labels come as two across, which is great if you want to use labels as a pair, such as printing a product’s price on one label and the barcode on another. 

SSL-345-TTP or SSL-302-TTP

These “string” tag or “barbell” tags are great for jewelry and art stores that sell small products. For instance, these tags can be “hooked” around a jewelry or bracelet chain. They come adhesive-free, which leaves less risk of damaging art pieces. The SSL-345-TTP-M is mylar while SSL-302-TTP is paper. Mylar labels tend to withstand harsher environments better over paper labels.


This cardstock label is great for apparel stores to use as a clothing hang tag. Its size is 2 1/2″ by 1 7/16″.


This label is great for customer ID labels or mailing labels and comes as TTP or DTP.

We offer many other label types and receipt paper. Email sales@certek.com or call (877) 723-7835 for more information. 

Updated on June 16, 2023

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