Thermal Printing vs Inkjet Printing

More and more businesses are investing in their printing facilities to be able to take control of their processes and cut down on risks associated with third parties. Whether it’s creating heavy-duty with label printers, barcodes with thermal printers, or marketing material with inkjet printers, there is a range of printing technologies that are used across various industries. Depending on the nature of a business, each option brings differing benefits, so knowing which to pick for the needs of the business can help make the investment worthwhile.

Thermal printing

Unlike other methods, thermal printers use heat to transfer the text or image onto a page with a thermochromic coating. There are two types of thermal printing, direct thermal and thermal transfer. Direct thermal printing does not require any ink or ribbon as it prints directly onto special thermal paper using heat alone. This makes it a more cost-effective option for many businesses, however, it is not suitable for creating long-lasting prints as the design can deteriorate in quality if it is exposed to light, heat, or moisture. Thermal transfer printing uses a transfer ribbon when creating the printed image, creating prints that are more likely to withstand the test of time for a durable result. Due to this, this method is often used for things like barcodes and product labels as the prints produced are resistant to fading and can withstand more harsh environments.

In terms of cost, thermal printing tends to be cheaper than inkjet printing, not requiring ink cartridges and using a type of paper that is less expensive. Although cheaper overall, thermal transfer printing can add up in cost since it requires a thermal transfer ribbon, a more significant investment than direct thermal printing.

As well as cost, thermal printing is a more efficient solution for businesses that need to produce a high volume of prints in a short period. Thermal printing is faster than inkjet printing, especially direct thermal printing, printing at much quicker speeds so bulk output can be produced to meet tight deadlines and larger demand.

Inkjet printing

Unlike thermal printers, an inkjet printer creates images using liquid ink. The printing method offers more versatility as it can print onto a variety of paper types, spraying small droplets of ink onto the paper to create a high-resolution image. There are two ink types compatible with an inkjet printer; dye-based ink and pigment-based ink. Dye-based ink is a cheaper option and is better for producing more vibrant colors, but it is not as durable so can fade sooner. Pigment-based ink is more expensive but produces more long-lasting prints which can withstand heat and sunlight. Inkjet printers are known for producing high-quality prints with clear text and bright colors, creating a more superior print finish. With thermal printing offering more limited color and resolution capabilities, inkjet printing is recommended for businesses printing with aesthetics in mind.

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