Custom heat transfer film printing

A heat transfer printing film contains ribbon and the ink needed to print information on labels. Custom heat transfer also is known as transfer ribbon, transfer film, heat transfer ribbon, and ink ribbon.

Whichever name you know it by, you will need it to print labels using a heat transfer printer.request quote from zigpac

The heat transfer film is a printing method that involves applying one material to another material, usually paper. The process requires melting a ribbon coating, so it glues to the other material that already has the print application.

Meanwhile, the heat transfer printing itself is from technology for the purpose of printing directly on the line of production.

This technology makes use of printing speed and high quality to overprint variable data on plastic film or paper. It helps you change the head of the printer without changing its plate.

How to Choose the Right of Heat Transfer Printing for Your Sticker

The Type of Film or Wind Direction for Heat Transfer Printing

The custom heat transfer film printing is available in two categories based on the position of the coating on the ribbons. These categories are the coated side out (CSO) and the coated side in (CSI). However, most printers do not use both groups of this film at the same time.

The placement of the coating will determine how you will wound and feed them through the printerrequest quote from zigpac

  • Coated Side Out (CSO) Film:

The ink coating of this heat transfer printing film is facing outside. Placement of the ink is outside the film roll and it starts to unroll from the very bottom. It is while unrolling that it eventually makes contact with both the print head and the label.

In order to insert this type of film correctly into your printer, you have to unroll it from the bottom. After doing this, you can feed it underneath.

  • Coated Side In (CSI) Film:

The ink of this heat transfer film printing is facing inside.  The ink is inside the film roll, unrolling from the top. While it is unrolling, it makes contact with both the print head and the label.

In order to correctly insert this type of film into your printer, you have to unroll it from the top. After you might have done this, you can then feed it over.

You can perform a simple tape test to determine which printing film you are using. Place the tape on the film roll and then peel it off after about 5 seconds. For CSO film, there will be ink stain on the tape, but none on a CSI film. If you want to know more info about heat transfer printing, please click here.

heat transfer printing

The Size of the Heat Transfer Printing

When deciding the size of film to use for the thermal heat transfer, you should consider some factors. These factors are:

  • Label width

Choose a film that has a width which comes closest to the width of your most used label. Otherwise, any ink left unused on the thermal transfer film wastes. For instance, when printing with a label that is 2.5-inch-wide, buy a film of 3.24-inch, instead of a 4.33-inch one.request quote from zigpac

Also, ensure that the width you buy fits perfectly into your printer.

  • Core size

Smaller printers do not have enough space to contain film cores that are too large. Some small printers use 0.5-inch core, while larger ones use the standard 1-inch core or even more.

  • Film length

Most desktop thermal transfer printers make use of films that have a shorter length. Industrial printers use films with longer lengths.

Film Material

You have to get the film material that best suits your application. The purpose of the labels will determine how strong and durable the film will be. The type of film material you choose will make sure your labels are readable, scannable, and reliable.request quote from zigpac

The film material falls into three major categories:

Resin-enhanced wax film (Full wax)

This is the most common and most inexpensive type of thermal transfer film. It works great for paper stock that is either coated or uncoated and it can be used for general purposes. This film material offers softer image durability and holds up well to indoor use.

Additionally, this material is suitable for temporary or short-term use including for shopping, retail, bin, shelf, and warehouse labels.

custom heat transfer

Durable wax-resin (Wax resin)

A mixture of wax and resin is used in coating this type of film. Wax resin ribbons are more durable than the full wax ribbons and work great for most film material types. They also offer harder heat transfer printing area, and better resistance to changes in temperature, moisture, abrasion, scratching, sunlight, and heavy handling.request quote from zigpac

They are suitable for indoor and standard or medium-term use including for printing barcode, prescription pharmaceutical, shipping, and shelf labels.

Furthermore, the wax-resin has an intermediate price bracket and is ideal for standard thermal transfer labels and the weatherproof ones.

Full resin

This type of ribbon material is made up of pure resin which is melted at very high temperatures. It then dissolves into the material that needs heat transfer printing on, leading to its guaranteed durability and high price range. It can be used on stocks of the non-paper and synthetic nature.

As a result of their high durability, they are perfect for long-term or permanent use both indoors and outdoors. They are great for medical applications, flexible packaging, textiles, automotive, and chemicals. Full resin ribbons can endure handling, moisture, scratching, extreme changes in temperature, UV exposure, abrasion, sunlight, chemicals, and water.

However, they can be overkill when your project does not require durability. So, it is better to use any of the more economical materials if you do not need something permanent.

Film Quantityrequest quote from zigpac

It is not good to run out of film while printing a project. Hence, before you begin printing your custom heat transfer film printing sticker, be sure of how many films you will need. This can be done easily using an online thermal ribbon calculator.

Film/Printer Compatibility

You have to also be conversant with the different types of printers you use for your heat transfer film printing stickers. This will help you to know which printer model or brand will be compatible with your chosen film.

Label Material

Another factor you should consider should be the material your label should be made of. Some of the types of label materials to consider for heat transfer are standard white, waterproof, and removable label materials.

Uses of Heat Transfer Printing

There are many ways of using custom heat transfer printers in an industry. Some of the major uses are:

  • They are used as label heat transfer printing with paper, metal, and plastic label materials.
  • They are used as barcode labels (because labels that are printed using a thermal printer are not usually durable). Also, these printers are used in marking clothing labels like shirt size. The printers also produce barcode labels for identification of different products and shipments.
  • Typically, barcode heat transfer printing comes in fixed sizes. They can be either 4, 6 or 8 inches (which is 100, 150 or 200 mm) wide.request quote from zigpac


Conclusively, finding the perfect custom heat transfer printing will make your labels easier to scan and read. It is not very difficult getting the ideal heat transfer film for your heat printer. If you have any demand on custom personalized stickers, welcome to inquire us at Zigpac.