One of the most common types of item we stock are Thermal Transfer Labels, which are also supplied as Direct Thermal Stickers on rolls. Many of these packaging labels are available to order directly from our stores for fast delivery. We have specialised in the production of high quality thermal labels for many years and we are now one of the UK's leading manufacturers. Here at Mercury Labels, we feel very privileged to have a longstanding and exceptionally loyal client base that has come to depend on our superior quality packaging labels, recognizing the true quality and unrivalled cost effectiveness of the thermal labels and direct thermal stickers we supply.

Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal Rolls

If you print your own packaging labels using thermal ribbons or thermal foil then why not save money by ordering from us? At Mercury Labels, we have every confidence that you will find our prices almost impossible to beat. When you purchase thermal packaging labels online using our website, you are buying a high quality product direct from the manufacturer, which effectively leaves you in a "win win" situation. We are leading suppliers of a wide range of packaging items including Zebra labels as well as Sato, TEC, Webber and Datamax thermal labelling products.

Zebra labels are one of the most commonly used thermal labelling products that we stock. In particular, we have found our Zebra LP 2844 printer compatible labels to be one our biggest sellers. Our TEC and Datamax thermal stickers and labels follow on closely. Whichever thermal transfer system you use, we have a wealth of experience in the manufacture of all types of thermal labels and direct thermal ribbons for any printing machine or thermal on roll system.

Printing Direct Thermal Labels        Print Thermal Transfer Labels        Thermal Labels

Popular Thermal Ribbon Options

Popular products in our thermal packaging label range include white labels in gloss and matt finishes, paper and vinyl labels featuring low tack removable adhesive or the permanent kind, and opaque or block out labels. We also supply thermal labels with freezer grade adhesives. Other popular options include direct thermal Eco rolls and coated direct thermal face papers.

At Mercury Labels, we have recently expanded our  thermal range to include coloured labels and stickers - we can match these with any pantone reference colour you provide, from a wide range of thermal printer compatible materials. Our thermal labels have a shelf life or lifespan of at least two to three years without showing even the slightest sign of deterioration.

The full range of shapes and sizes that our thermal packaging labels are available in is practically unlimited thanks to our massive cutter and tool library - from tiny circular thermal labels, to larger thermal labels of all sizes. The most common sizes we stock are 4x2 inch, 4x3 inch, 4x4 inch and 4x6 inch, plus a full range of smaller labels such as 1x1, 1x2, 2x1, 2x2, 2x3, and so on. Please contact a member of the sales team for a more comprehensive list of available products. 

Unlike Direct Thermal Labels, Thermal Transfer Stickers require Thermal Ribbons or Thermal Foil coated with resin or wax, which transfers print onto your label surface when heat is applied through the print head.

The type of ribbon or foil you will require will depend on the type of label you are looking to print.

In general, wax coated ribbons are used for printing uncoated paper labels.

Wax / Resin coated ribbons are used for higher quality gloss stickers or coated labels. These are suitable for use with thermal printers by a list of manufacturers that includes Datamax, TEC, Zebra, Soabar, SATO, Citizen and Webber.

You can also use full resin ribbons or thermal foils with thermal printing equipment. These give a hard, scratchproof finish to the print.

Direct thermal labels differ from thermal transfer stickers in that they are compatible with thermal printers that do not need a ribbon. Direct labels are a true thermal product where the heat is applied directly from the printing machine without the use of thermal foils. However, the downside of this technology is that direct thermal stickers are prone to a slight fading issue in the long term. Fortunately, you can counteract this by using labels with a higher quality coating, which can improve the lifespan of the print dramatically.

Thermal labels on rolls are now more popular than ever in terms of being used as delivery labels. These labels play an important role in the movement of goods that are being shipped across the globe and they are often barcoded in order to improve the tracking process. Many of the customers who purchase thermal labels from our warehouse are shipping and distribution clients who have come to depend on our products for quality and price.

We currently hold a huge quantity of industry standard thermal labels and direct thermal stickers in stock, which you can order now for next day delivery. However, with so many options available, we can also manufacture thermal packaging labels according to your specific requirements. If you are looking for a bespoke thermal labelling product, then please contact a member of our sales team who will be happy to assist.

What is a thermal label?

A thermal label, also known as a direct thermal or thermal transfer label, is a type of label that uses heat to create an image or text. There are two main types of thermal labels: direct thermal and thermal transfer.

Direct thermal labels do not require an ink ribbon. Instead, the heat from the printer head activates the heat-sensitive coating on the label paper, which causes the paper to darken and create an image or text. Direct thermal labels are inexpensive and easy to use, but they are not as durable as thermal transfer labels. Thermal transfer labels use a ribbon that contains wax or resin-based ink. The ribbon is melted by the heat from the printer head and transferred to the label paper, creating a more durable and weather-resistant image or text.
Both direct thermal and thermal transfer labels are commonly used in retail, shipping, and manufacturing applications.

Do thermal labels last?

The lifespan of a thermal label depends on the type of label and the conditions it is exposed to. Direct thermal labels typically last for 6 to 8 months if kept away from direct sunlight and heat. Thermal transfer labels can last for up to 2 years if kept in good condition.

How do I identify a thermal label?

There are a few ways to identify a thermal label:

  • The label's appearance: Direct thermal labels are typically white or light yellow and have a dull, matte finish. Thermal transfer labels can be a variety of colours and have a glossy finish.
  • The label's texture: Direct thermal labels feel smooth and slick, while thermal transfer labels feel slightly rough or textured.
  • The label's ink: Direct thermal labels have ink that fades over time, becoming lighter and eventually disappearing altogether. Thermal transfer labels have ink that is more durable and will not fade or smudge.
  • The label's smell: Direct thermal labels may have a slight chemical smell, while thermal transfer labels do not have a noticeable odour.

Are thermal labels better?

Whether thermal labels are "better" depends on the specific application. Direct thermal labels are a good choice for applications where durability is not a major concern and cost is a priority. They are also a good choice for applications where the labels need to be printed quickly and easily. Thermal transfer labels are a better choice for applications where durability is important, the labels need to be waterproof or weatherproof, or the labels need to be printed in a variety of colours. They are also a better choice for applications where the labels need to be printed in high quality.

What is a thermal ribbon used for?

A thermal ribbon, also known as a wax ribbon or resin ribbon, is a type of ribbon that is used in thermal transfer printers to create an image or text on a label. The ribbon contains wax or resin-based ink that is melted by the heat from the printer head and transferred to the label paper. Thermal ribbons are commonly used in applications where durability and weather resistance are important, such as shipping labels, barcode labels, and asset tags.

How long do thermal transfer ribbons last?

The lifespan of a thermal transfer ribbon depends on the type of ribbon, the frequency of use, and the conditions it is exposed to. Wax ribbons typically last for 2–3 months, while resin ribbons can last for up to 6 months. However, if the ribbon is exposed to direct sunlight, heat, or humidity, it will degrade more quickly. To extend the life of your thermal transfer ribbon, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. You should also replace your ribbon when the printed image starts to fade or becomes illegible.

Do thermal transfer printers need ribbons?

Yes, thermal transfer printers do need ribbons. Thermal transfer printers work by melting ink from a ribbon onto a label. The ribbon is composed of wax or resin, which is transferred to the label paper when the printer head heats up. Thermal transfer ribbons are essential for creating durable and weather-resistant labels that can withstand harsh conditions. 

Direct thermal printers, on the other hand, do not require ribbons. Instead, they use heat to directly apply ink to the label paper. Direct thermal labels are typically less expensive and easier to use than thermal transfer labels, but they are also less durable and do not fare well in humid or wet environments.

What are the different grades of thermal ribbons?

Thermal ribbons are classified into 3 grades based on the type of ink they use: wax, wax-resin, and resin.

  • Wax ribbon: Wax ribbons use a mixture of wax and resin inks, which produces a lower quality image but is more affordable. Wax ribbons are suitable for applications where durability is not a major concern and the labels only need to be readable for a short period of time.
  • Wax-resin ribbon: Wax-resin ribbons combine wax and resin inks in a specific ratio to achieve higher durability and weather resistance compared to wax ribbons. They are suitable for applications that require labels to withstand harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures or wet environments.
  • Resin ribbon: Resin ribbons use pure resin ink, which provides the highest level of durability and weather resistance. Resin ribbons are suitable for applications where labels need to be highly resistant to fading, abrasion, and chemicals. They are often used for industrial applications and labels that need to last for a long period of time.