What's Hot with Thermal Labels?
In-house decisions regarding thermal labels are application-driven.
With enhancements to thermal response, environmental barriers and raw stock precoats, IBM is taking thermal coatings into markets that have been limited to other archival media," said Gary Lorgan, business line executive for supplies.
That's not the only innovative move IBM Printing Systems is making these days, however. They have recently licensed Nashua Corporation, Nashua, N.H., to manufacture and distribute IBM Brand Thermal Labels throughout North America. "Nashua supports IBM Brand Thermal labels for printhead life and application integrity," said Lorgan.
Upholding IBM's application integrity is no small feat. When it comes to converting thermal labels, IBM has access to numerous formulations. In addition to DT films, polyesters and tag grade, IBM uses various thermal make-ups to overcome different scenarios.
For instance, in order to combat environmentally challenged applications involving extreme conditions and exposure to the elements, IBM utilizes heat stable grades of thermal. And, to sustain quick-printing, short-life labels in a demanding price environment it uses non-barrier coated DT coatings. Also, IBM adds infrared coatings to its labels for advanced scanning in crucial processes.
When it comes to printing thermal labels, IBM executes two different technologies—direct-thermal and thermal-transfer, with direct-thermal being the method of choice for labels that don't require archival printing, like postal, courier and airline baggage labels. On the other hand, IBM uses thermal-transfer to print labels that have archival properties like automotive labels. This process requires both labels and ribbon.
IBM's top use for thermal labels is distribution, followed by product identification, inventory control, transportation/shipping, retail shelf marking and picking operations. And, the increased use of on-demand printing over batch printing in picking operations has made this process much more efficient. "It has reduced the level of returns on incorrect shipments," explained Lorgan.
Since IBM Printing Systems is experiencing impressive growth in its brand thermal labels, Lorgan has garnered key advice for distributors. "It starts with understanding the application, which is driven by decentralized printing or on-demand printing, including variable information/barcode requirements. Evaluation of this product should include applications (hand-apply or auto) and types of adhesives based on substrates."