The Many Uses of Direct Thermal Labels February 09 2017

healthcare barcode thermal labelsBarcoding is an amazing technology. With just a seemingly simple array of lines, you can communicate a vast amount of information that is encoded on even the tiniest direct thermal labels that are often used for barcode printing. Hospitals use barcoded wristbands for patient safety, to provide critical information to their healthcare providers with just one quick scan of the barcode. Manufacturing uses these symbols to code information about a product or part. Retailers use barcodes to easily scan merchandise for pricing and to automatically update inventory. Produce suppliers now include barcoded direct thermal labels on fresh foods so that the sources can be traced in the event of a problem. Virtually, every industry has deployed barcoding in some facet in order to streamline data collection.

warehouse thermal labelsBarcode label printing is usually done via either thermal transfer or direct thermal printing. Because direct thermal printing is somewhat less expensive and provides a good solution for many applications, you might discover that the economy and functions are ideal for your applications.

With so many and varied uses for direct thermal barcoding, a number of label choices have been developed. While direct thermal labels are limited to one- or two-color printing, there are still many uses for them. Whether you’re labeling an avocado or a pallet, you can find direct thermal labels that are designed and formulated to suit your needs. The facestock, size, shape, die cut, and adhesive choices can be combined in many ways. At PTI, we also specialize in custom labels, so if you can’t find an off-the-shelf product, we can easily and affordably produce either a special type or preprinted direct thermal labels for you.

Direct thermal labels are ideal for short-term use—up to months or even one year depending on the individual direct thermal label you choose—or for items that are kept indoors, away from direct sunlight, such as in retail environments and for visitor passes. Because the direct thermal printing process is not resistant to high amount of UV light, heat, abrasion, or moisture, it can be prone to fading, smudging, scratching, or even turning completely black. Take that into consideration when choosing your label printing method.

With the right direct thermal dye and/or protective coating on your direct thermal labels, you can reduce the harmful effects of some exposures. Polypropylene direct thermal labels, for example, use the synthetic substrate to create a waterproof label. This type of label can be used in various ways, including labeling fish and meat, which have short-term use but require refrigeration. Foods that are not frozen or refrigerated are often marked with direct thermal labels with a removable adhesive. Items with a shorter shelf life, like bakery products and deli meats can also benefit from the cost-effective application of direct thermal labels.

Shipping and tracking labels, which have short-term use, are also ideally suited for direct thermal printing. Warehouses frequently utilize direct thermal labels for printing pick tickets and tote labels. If they are using preprinted forms, they print direct thermal labels with product, shipping, return, or warranty.

Direct thermal labels are available in rolls or fan-folded, which could allow you to print more labels at one time before reloading the media.

Direct thermal printing offers some cost savings over thermal transfer and could be the right solution for your barcoding needs. Talk to us at PTI to learn about your options for direct thermal labels.