Can You Use Thermal Label Printers to Print Color

2023-04-03 13:37

image of a shopping receipt

Labels are everywhere in our daily lives, such as supermarket receipts, courier labels, movie tickets, and so on. These labels are printed using thermal label printers , and the text is usually in black. However, some people may ask: can thermal label printers print in color? Next, we will explore this question in depth.

According to the printing method, thermal label printers can be divided into direct thermal printers and thermal transfer printers

——Direct thermal label printers

image of SL42 direct thermal label printer

The principle of this printer: Under the drive of the drum, the thermal paper moves forward. When it comes into contact with the print head, the heat generated by the print head melts the colorless dye and acid on the surface of the thermal paper. The two react chemically to produce color, thereby "printing" the desired image, text, and barcode information.

Can thermal label printers print in color?

Generally speaking, traditional thermal label printers can only print single-color labels, most commonly black. In fact, there are many varieties of colorless dyes, so the color of the text varies, such as blue, red, and so on.

However, with the continuous improvement of technology, new types of thermal label paper that can achieve color printing on thermal label printers have appeared. This type of paper contains multiple coatings, usually including different colors of dyes or inks, which can produce different colors under the heating action of the print head.

——Thermal transfer label printers

image of HT100 thermal transfer label printer printing barcodes

The principle of this printer: Using the carbon ribbon as the medium, when ordinary label paper passes through the heating point of the print head, the carbon powder coating on the carbon ribbon will be transferred to the label paper under the heating and pressure of the print head, thereby displaying the content that needs to be printed.

Compared with direct thermal printing, this printing method produces more full and clear label printing effects, which can be stored for a long time, and therefore has been widely used in many fields.

Can thermal transfer label printers print in color?

Generally, small thermal transfer label printers can only print in one color, and the text or image color can be changed by replacing the carbon ribbon inside the printer. Common carbon ribbon colors include black, red, blue, green, and so on.

Usually, small thermal transfer label printers only have one print head, while some high-end large thermal transfer label printers may be equipped with multiple print heads, allowing them to print faster and multiple colors on the same label.

Specifically, these label printers have different color carbon ribbons installed on each print head. The printer will control the heating and stopping heating time of each print head according to the printing task requirements, so that different color inks can be transferred to the correct position on the label paper, thus achieving multi-color printing.


Through the content above, we believe your doubts about whether thermal label printers can print in color have been resolved. Although ordinary thermal printers cannot directly print color labels, color effects can also be achieved through special label paper and printing technology.

HPRT is a professional direct thermal and thermal transfer label printers manufacturer, contact us if you are looking for a reliable printer supplier.

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