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"WeListen" Blog

How Thermal Technology is Revolutionizing Product Labels

Multiple receipt examples.


Thermal printing for CPG packaging is making a big splash. The technology is portable, and you can create higher quality packaging labels faster than ever before. What are modern thermal printers, and why are CPG packaging teams so excited about this tool?

What is Thermal Printing for CPG Packaging

The label holds an important place in the hierarchy of CPG packaging. A label helps consumers easily identify the product in a long shelf full of similar products. The label can hold a variety of data that helps consumers in their decision-making process. Pictures, logos, product messaging, and even information on the sustainability of the materials used in the product, can all make it on to the label. In addition, product labeling also needs to comply with CCA food standards codes on top of everything else.

That makes the product label highly important to CPG marketing designers. When a new technology comes along to make the printing of labels easier and more efficient, most in the field sit up and take notice. That is the case with thermal printing technologies.

Thermal printing offers companies a variety of options to improve the packaging process. Thermal printers are portable and speedy, creating vibrant labels suitable for a variety of package styles and materials. The equipment is as durable as it is speedy; thermal printers are workhorses of high-volume printing without sacrificing quality for the speed of the project.

How Does Thermal Printing Work?

Thermal printers do not use ink, toner, or ribbons. Instead, thermal printers use thermal paper, which is a paper coated with a substance that changes color when exposed to heat. Thermal paper is most frequently used in adding machines, cash registers, and credit card terminals. Thermal printing is a digital printing process that produces an image on the thermal printer by applying heat when the paper passes over the printer head. The coating on the thermal paper turns black where it is heated and produces an image. There are two-color thermal printers that can print black and another color (usually red) by applying heat at different degrees.

Thermal printers.

Professional grade thermal printers are made for a high-volume, intense environment. These devices can quickly churn out labels working 24-hours a day for weeks at a time. For years, these printers could pump out red and black high contrast labels, bar codes, and more. But now, the maker of thermal paper, ZINK (named for zero ink printing), offers paper in other colors. According to Packaging Strategies, they partnered with traditional printer Brother International Corp., to create a new printer utilizing ZINK's technology in a wide range of eye-catching colors.

When coupled with the thermal printer's rugged work-hard style, this combination of dazzling colors, speed, and portability will open new doors for CPG packaging designers seeking new ways to improve their workflows and processes.

PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!


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