THERMAL TRANSFER PRINTING: AN OVERVIEW By: Van Chiang
CONTENTSo TT Printing – Advantages and Disadvantageso Components of TT Printing System -CPU, Printer, Ribbon and Substrateo Printers – Famous Brand, Dpi, Thermal Head Typeo Ribbon – Resin, Hybrid & Waxo Substrate – Thermal Transfer, Direct ThermaloQ&A
TT PRINTINGo Invented by SATO around late 1940’s.o Printing by melting a coating of ribbon.oDirect Thermal Printing, no ribbon is used.
Advantages Dot Matrix Technology• • uses is readily accessible and inexpensive Printer a hammer or pin to transfer pigment• Print ona ribbon onto the substrate. from virtually any form, check, or document and can print on wide-web, multi-part (carbon) forms. (refer figure 1)• Using multi-pass ribbons which can result in reduced overall cost for ribbons and label materials. Disadvantages• Only print low- to medium density barcode.• Dot size limits the narrower element size. Not suitable for graphics printing. One color printing.• Close monitoring of ribbon condition needed.• Durability of the printing is limited. Not water nor chemical resistant
Advantages Ink Jet Technology • Spray ink onto label surface in either a• continuouswith bettercovering entire print Fast printing stream, color option (CYMK)• width with one spray, or certain pretreated Print on most paper and only one drop at a time. polymer paper. (Seeinstallation and maintenance.• Easy Figure 3) Disadvantages• Only print low- to medium density barcode.• Dot size may spatter, depends on type of paper. Not suitable for graphics with sharp printing.• Close monitoring of ink level needed.• Durability of the printing is limited. Not water nor chemical resistant
Advantages Laser Jet Technology• • Printing by controlled streams of ionsto Provide superb printing quality when compare onto other methods. the surface of a print drum, which in turn• selectively higher resolution particles. The Printing is at attracts toner without higher percentage of dot gain. particles will form the image on the paper• Economical and no ink leakage problem. substrate. (See Figure 4) Disadvantages• Cannot utilize small media.• Not ideal to print on labels with adhesive, oozing and curling occur.• Limited shelf life. Ink flaking off.• Durability of the printing is limited. Not water nor chemical resistant
Advantages Thermal Transfer Technology• Custom made for printing barcode and serialized no.• • Use a is at higher resolution without higher Printing heated printhead to transfer ink from ribbondot gain. label or create the percentage of onto the• image on the label. both chemical and physical Durable and withstand (See Figure 5) abrasion.• Very economical as consumable is cheap when compare to other printing. Disadvantages• Only one color printing.• High wastage if incorrect ribbon size s used. Single pass.• Need to be technically sound to understand the different combination of ribbon, media and printer setting
CPU• Short Form for Central Processing Unit• Required as the interface for designing barcode with specific programme (e.g. BarTendertm, Labelmatrixtm)• Important to choose the correct software and CPU to maximize printing effect.• Handheld barcode printer utilize a simpler CPU.
Flat Printhead Near Edge Printhead TT Printer• the printhead is horizontal, and the• heating element is inapproximately 45º and The printhead is angled the center of the printhead.elements are located near the edge the heating• • Ideal for printing barcode and of the printhead. The ribbon travel in the horizontal plane• after printing, number a centimeter serialized for about on labels. The ribbon has limited contact with the substrate. It only touches the substrate when it passes • Printer can from the front of by before emergingbeheating elements.the under the printhead’s differentiate• printer. Thisprinthead of the ink andfully The transfer process must both adhere to or of centimeter (flathead typeto the printed surface and then adhereat the same time. This requires a change release in near edge) and print resolution release from formulation, particularly the the ribbon’s the ribbon. (up to 600dpi). release layer, explaining the need for additional• Printing speed up to about 12IPS. ribbon• • Famous brand include Can work with most type of ribbon.• Printing speed double flathead type, can print up to Sato, Zebra, Intermec and TEC. 24IPS. • Scanner can be differentiate by 1D and 2D scanner.
Ribbon (ii) Ribbon• TT Ribbon constructed of a of Ribbon construction consist a core, trailor high-density tissue coated on tape, substrate, leader tape one side with ink.• and non-ink tape.of the ribbon The release side• is coated with ais black, but Common color lubricating also available in prevent wear agent that helps other colors.• or damage in or face out. Either face to the printers• printhead. Famous brand include• RibbonSony be classified into Ricoh, can three types; wax,Zebra, ITW, Av Chemical, Brady, wax/resin andand SATO. ery resin. Different ribbon will suits different media substrate.
Susbtrate Material•Direct thermal paper is extremely sensitive to environmental conditions such as heat and light. • Label stock material consist of facestock, adhesive and liner.•Direct thermal paper remains chemically active afterof paper • Facestock can be printing. based origin or polymer based•Printing on direct thermal paper will fade off after a period of time, origin.the longest being slightly more than 6 direct thermal on the • For months, dependsstorage condition. printing, only use specially chemical treated material, known as Direct Thermal paper. • Adhesive can be of permanent
PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE Print Head MaintenanceMaintaining a barcode printer, cleaning it regularly and replacing parts aswhen required is necessary to ensure high print quality and consistent printperformance. The print head is the most critical component of a barcodeprinter and without proper cleaning and maintenance, it will produce lessthan desirable print quality that can cause operational down time andwastages as well. 90% of print quality problems result directly from improperuse or care of the print head.Clean your print headsCleaning print heads at regular intervals can extend their life considerably. Asa general rule, print heads should be cleaned every time the ribbon isreplaced. Cleaning is fairly quick and easy with cleaning pens, swabs or cardsand is very inexpensive compared to constantly replacing print heads.