Thermal-transfer printing is a printing method in which an image or text is applied to a label (or other types of material) by melting a thermal transfer ribbon as it passes under a thermal transfer printhead. The ink melts from the ribbon and transfers to the label/material.
Thermal transfer printing was originally developed in Japan as a method of printing the complicated Kanji characters. It was then developed further to become a very versatile technology for industrial and retail printing and is used in label printers, in-line coding printers and print and apply systems all over the world.
There are 1,000s of applications for thermal transfer printing as diverse as printing a simple box end label or a car number plate ranging up to specialist applications like labels on rocket parts on the space shuttle.