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Food Packaging: To Choose Thermal or Direct Transfer Labelling

By Food and Beverages | Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The differences between thermal transfer and direct thermal printing technologies are elaborated to identify the pros and cons of each method while used in food packaging.

FREMONT, CA: Food-related emissions make up 21 percent of total emissions in America, of which the packaging and supply chain mechanisms contribute 11 percent, reports a study conducted in 2010. Whereas the same carried out in 2018 suggests that on an average, the production and supply of food account for 83 percent of emissions, while only the packaging accounts for 11 percent. A decade ago, this category would not have been critically important. However, at present is needs the utmost attention. Waste reduction and lower carbon footprints are majorly gaining part in producers and Food packaging companies' mission statements and, in many cases, used to strengthen competitive advantage.

Many companies have used direct thermal labeling traditionally as a niche technology across various narrow vertical markets, including dairy, meat, and poultry. However, developments in thermal paper technology have resulted in a wide range of products that are suitable for utilization in many applications across nearly any vertical market. The result has led to increased interest in direct thermal as the technology option for new or upgraded applications.

The primary difference between direct thermal and thermal transfer printing is that thermal transfer printing uses a thermal ribbon and direct thermal printing does not. Thermal ribbon uses a poly-based carrier made from crude oil products. Eliminating its use can, therefore, positively impact a company’s goal for a reduced carbon footprint. After the ribbon is used, the spent ribbon and cores must be disposed of; it flows out to the company’s waste stream.

The thermal transfer involves the thermal printhead elements heating one side of a thermal transfer ribbon to melt it. This will allow the compound on the other side to stick to the label material, thus creating the printed image.

Direct thermal printing needs a heat-sensitive label material. The printhead elements are in direct contact with the heat-sensitive material enabling the elements to effect a color change in the material. Direct thermal technology brings to halt the usage of thermal ribbons, eliminating the excess generation of waste. The advances in direct thermal materials and technology expand the potential use applications. The above-listed considerations will be given extra attention in organizations with the freedom to choose the technology.

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