Thermal scale labels or "barcode labels" can be used to help track anything from retail products to equipment. Selecting the proper media for the exact job or application can be confusing due the variety of adhesive, material and size options. A paper label may work well for a standard product, but it might perform poorly in tagging a vehicle. Beyond the label itself, there are 2 thermal print technologies from which you can choose. Your choice will depend upon how long you need your media to last. The actual printing method determines how long the print will last on the media.
Direct thermal (DT) media doesn't use any sort of ribbon or ink to print. This media is coated with a heat-sensitive layer that will change color when exposed to the print head. The print head actually heats up or cools down according to your actual barcode design, which is then branded into the media. Since this technology prints without the need for a ribbon, DT media is known for its simplicity and lower cost. Direct thermal media has a longer shelf life, but is not well-suited to warm climates or exposure to sunlight or friction. Printing on direct thermal media produces sharp images with high scan-ability. For a short term application like printing shipping labels, Direct Thermal will be your most efficient option.
Thermal transfer media requires using a ribbon matched to the specific material type. The ribbon is in effect melted onto the media in the barcode design pattern. While thermal transfer media uses 2 consumables and tends to be more expensive initially, there could be a long term cost savings over direct thermal printing. Thermal transfer is not only resistant to moisture and heat; the printed image also cannot be rubbed off. This makes this print method the most durable and long-lasting option. Since color and density is determined by your printer resolution and ribbon, you'll get consistent, reliable printing each time.