Near edge printhead technology offers very high speed throughput and efficiencies. The near edge print head is angled, with the heating elements located at the edge of the printhead. This allows faster speeds. The substrate, (label, tag or package), only comes in contact with the ribbon as it passes under the printhead’s heating elements, which requires an instant transfer of ink, (ribbon). The distance between where an image is printed and where the ribbon and receiver separate from each other is significantly shorter, compared to flathead printers. Near Edge Ribbons must contain a release layer which allows the ink to quickly release from the ribbon after melting, without the need to re-solidify. The unique ribbon chemistry limits ribbon type to wax/resin and resin black and color thermal transfer ribbon formulations.
Flathead thermal transfer printing is an accepted technology for digitally printing barcodes, as well as other variable information onto tags and label stocks. Common flathead printer brands include Zebra, Sato, Honeywell, TSC, and Datamax.
In flathead printing, the printhead is horizontal, and the heating elements are located in the center of the printhead. As the ribbon passes over the heating elements, ink is transferred to the substrate. From there, the “spent” ribbon and substrate travel horizontally towards the front of the printer giving time for the molten ink to re-freeze. The ribbon is then separated from the substrate and directed to the take-up spindle.