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When you’re ready to buy a roll of thermal labels for your Zebra label printer, it’s important to be sure you’re buying the right kind of labels. Zebra branded labels are highly recommended because that way you can be sure the labels are entirely suitable for use with the printer, but that’s not the only consideration you’ll need to take into account.
The first matter that needs to be settled is whether you need labels designed for direct thermal printing or thermal transfer printing. You can’t mix these up because they each work properly only with the technology they were designed for.
If you’re not sure which printing method your printer uses, check the manual. Some Zebra printers are direct thermal only, some are thermal transfer only, and some have dual print heads so you can switch between the two methods as necessary.
But do always be sure you are using the correct type of labels for the printing method your printer is set to use.
Labels designed for use with the Zebra direct thermal printing method are made from chemically treated paper. These chemicals react to heat, darkening the pigments that pass directly under the focused heat beam of the print head.
This printing method generates a lot more friction and vibration than thermal transfer printing, which is why it’s best suited only to low volume printing. When you need to print many thousands of labels per print run, it’s better to use thermal transfer printing.
The reason why you can’t use Zebra thermal transfer labels or ordinary labels with the direct thermal printing method is because the paper has not been treated with the heat sensitive chemicals, so there won’t be any reaction other than the paper getting slightly more warm in particular spots for about a nanosecond. That’s about as exciting as it gets if you don’t use labels that were designed for direct thermal printing.
Zebra thermal transfer labels may sometimes have been chemically treated, but not with heat sensitive chemicals. When chemicals are applied to thermal transfer labels, it is to help the ink from the transfer ribbon to bond better with the paper surface. There’s a lot of technical stuff involved in this where we’d talk about polarity and ionic bonding and stuff, but in the interests of brevity, we’ll leave all that out.
To put it as plainly as possible, thermal transfer labels are typically very plain. If you inadvertently use Zebra direct thermal labels in a printer that’s not supposed to use them, you won’t get good results at all.
What will happen is the heat from the print head will darken the paper inappropriately and the ink probably won’t stick properly to the paper surface, possibly leading to a messy situation.
We offer a price match guarantee on the products we sell, which means you can always be certain of getting the best value when you buy from us. For label printers, supplies, and accessories, DAL has everything you need at the best prices. We also offer flat rate shipping to anywhere in Australia, international shipping on request, and fantastic customer service.