Thermal transfer printer printerhead that has printed a description on a white surface by thermal heat transfer.

What is a continuous thermal transfer printer (TTO)?

Imagine overprinting barcodes, nutritional values, serial or lot numbers on malleable packaging that won’t distract from your design. It is possible with a thermal printer. High performance, reduced downtimes, and affordable printing costs thanks to thermal ribbons are merely some highlights of thermal transfer printers.

Continuous thermal transfer printing is a method that uses heat to transfer an image or text from wax or resin onto the intended material. Unlike direct thermal printers, which print directly onto paper using heat, thermal transfer printers use an ink ribbon to achieve a high-quality image. Find out why this label printer is the solution for your plant or factory.


Thermal printer operation

If you are considering simplifying your manual processes, the thermal transfer printer is an excellent solution. The ink is transferred by heat from a thermal transfer ribbon wound around the printer’s printhead. This method is perfect for application on flexible substrates. The non-porous material of the film used preserves the visual of your packaging.

A flexible and customized identification

The continuous thermal transfer overprinting (TTO) offers tremendous personalization flexibility regarding your product identification. You will no longer be bothered by plastic (polypropylene), bags (e.g., potato or potato sacks), pouches or other unconventionally shaped packaging materials.

The 6 steps of the thermal transfer overprinting process

  1. Passing text and information through the printer and thermal printhead
  2. Transposing onto thermal transfer ribbon
  3. Preparing the substrate
  4. Configuring, positioning and aligning
  5. Printing on packaging or product
  6. Cooling and drying

Flexible red plastic packaging with printed expiration date and grey tablet packaging with product information on its back.

Materials compatible with thermal transfer overprinting

In the agricultural, food and pharmaceutical sectors, reviews of thermal printers are incredibly enthusiastic. Why is this? Because they are capable of high-resolution hot printing on a variety of substrates.

The 2 main material categories

  1. Plastic films are used for packaging and labelling food, pharmaceutical and industrial products.
  2. Synthetic materials such as polypropylene and polyethylene are used for a variety of labelling and packaging applications.

It’s important to keep in mind that compatibility between media and continuous thermal transfer printers depends on the printer configuration and ribbon materials used. Our team is on hand to help you configure your printer to your specifications and needs. It will make customized recommendations based on the type of media compatible with your equipment.

Continuous thermal printers are commonly used in various packaging industries to ensure traceability and efficient product management.

The 5 essential assets of a thermal printer

Whether in the food, agricultural, pharmaceutical or industrial packaging industries, continuous thermal transfer printers are mainly used to ensure product traceability and management. Here are five benefits demonstrating why a thermal label printer is indispensable for your labelling needs.

1. Versatile printing on a variety of materials

TTO printers can print various information: barcodes, best-before dates, batch numbers and images. Continuous thermal transfer printers are suitable for printing on a wide range of materials, from paper labels to plastics, films and even some fabrics.

2. Flexible personalization

With TTOs, you can print variable data in real time, giving you the opportunity to adapt specific information to each of your products or batches. The fact that each packaging is unique, for example, by candy category, limits the variety of web rolls needed in your inventory and optimizes your costs. So, it makes it easy to insert precise information in a given window directly onto your products or flexible packaging.

3. Durable printing

Thermal transfer by heat provides a durable print that is resistant to scratches, humidity, fading and temperature variations. Prints made with this method are an ideal solution if your company keeps products in an environment where conditions are variable or require frequent handling.

4. Cost savings

Thermal printers help you cut your costs and save time. Direct printing on the product eliminates the need for additional labels or packaging material, which reduces production downtime. You can substantially save time and labour by having fewer steps in your packaging process. Get better performance from fewer resources! A significant economic asset for your business.

5. Automation for a step towards eco-responsibility

Integrated into your production lines, TTO printers optimize the printing process for accuracy, avoiding the need for extra labels or additional packaging materials. This allows you to minimize your company’s ecological footprint. Which is both good for the planet and attractive to environmentally conscious consumers.

Thermal transfer overprinting (TTO) equipment at DMS

At DMS, we have a range of products and solutions for your industrial packaging. To facilitate ink transmission from a thermal transfer ribbon to a flexible substrate for your food, beverage, pharmaceutical packaging, or others, our team recommends the TT-53 thermal transferprinter from Kortho. This technology simplifies the identification of your packaging. Talk to us about your project, and we’ll be happy to provide you with the right advice!

Tailor-made support from DMS

Our qualified team meets and trains your operating staff, in person or remotely, for equipment installation, software configuration, maintenance, and more. You can also benefit from DMS Academy and experience print tests in our workshop. On top of this, we have a wide range of products and customized solutions to answer all your industrial marking, coding, labelling and packaging needs.