Raising the Bar
Thermal transfer makes a good first impression on bar code sales
By Erik Cagle
Distributors of thermal transfer labels may be thanking their lucky bar codes, which have become required on all retail products. Bar codes are perhaps the primary reason behind the runaway success of thermal transfer labels.
According to Tony Heinl, vice president of sales and marketing at Repacorp Label Products, Tipp City, Ohio, even boxes that go into retail stores are required to have bar codes.
"These labels all have to have bar codes on the outside that are scannable at a high rate, like 99 percent of the time," Heinl said. "Direct thermal and thermal transfer is the way to go because you can get those scan rates as opposed to dot matrix printers. The disadvantage [with using dot matrix] is that your bar codes might only scan 85 percent of the time."
When shipping to retail stores such as Kmart or Wal-Mart, Heinl warned of the consequences of completely unscannable bar codes. The first offense can be a fine as high as $25,000. Subsequent offenses are increased by a similar amount. A fourth offense may remove you from the distributor list.
An advantage to using thermal transfers, Heinl said, is the many various types and levels of ribbons that can be utilized, including wax, resin and wax/resin. He noted that 80 percent of the market uses standard wax for putting paper labels and thermal transfer labels onto corrugated boxes.