Thermal transfer overprinting and coding, also known as TTO, is a technology that combines a thermal print head and ribbon transport device that – in terms of performance and reliability – are unbeatable if it fits the rest of your overall printing requirements.
A TTO coder is capable of printing variable data including bar codes and 2D codes at a 300 dot per inch quality level and can print onto a wide range of packaging materials for use in the pharmaceutical, food and industrial sectors.
The way thermal transfer technology works is that the thermal transfer ribbon (dry “ink” on a mylar carrier) is positioned between the print head and the packaging to be printed. The pixels of the print head are appropriately energized, for a matter of microseconds, to create the image allowing heat to pass through the ribbon which then releases ink that adheres to the packaging. The ink cools rapidly and that results in a permanent print on the packaging.
It is important to match the composition of the thermal transfer ribbon to the substrate to be printed and the print performance goals (rub and/or scratch resistance, life of ink adherence, light fastness, etc.), Thermal transfer ribbons are made in basically three formulations: wax, wax/resin and resin and are priced upward in that manner.
One of the major benefits of the TTO technology is that it is highly programmable and can accommodate a wide print area, high levels of print quality and various print colors. This is an ideal print technology for graphics, nutritional information, codes, expiration date information and simple batch code printing.
TTO technology is easy to integrate with offline, automatic feeding systems. What can a TTO printer on an automatic feeder be utilized for? Here are some of the items on for which it is ideal:
- Nutritional information printing coding on food sleeves, cartons and labels
- Tyvek medical pouch product identification (Unique Device Identifier)
- Graphics and product descriptions onto industrial blister cards
This technology provides these advantages:
- Ease of use for changing text information, and font sizes and styles
- The ability to print on large areas simultaneously
- It can print on a wide array of packaging materials
- It is a clean technology that is able to be used in all production settings and environments
- Provides a high quality print and wide array of image types, including graphics and barcodes