Understanding Thermal Labels

Thermal Labels vs. Direct Thermal Labels

Direct Thermal Labels

  • Does not require a ribbon – printer uses heat to make an impression
  • If you have never replaced a ribbon, you probably use a direct thermal label
  • Good for short term needs such as shipping or address labels

Thermal Transfer Labels

  • Requires a ribbon to make an impression on label paper
  • Good for long term needs, such as labeling, long term shelf storage, and labels subjected to more abrasive conditions

Label Width and HeightWxH

Label sizes are listed Width x Height.  A 3″ x 2″ label has a width of 3″ and a height of 2″ when viewed from the front of the printer.

All printers have a maximum label width.

Outside Diameter and Core Size

The outside diameter and core (cardboard insert) size must match the specifications of the printer; typically, core sizes are 1″ (desktop), 3″ (tabletop) or ½” (mobile).