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Digital vs thermal transfer printer

Discussion in 'Digital Printing' started by Outdoorsignguy, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Outdoorsignguy

    Outdoorsignguy New Member

    May 24, 2012
    Hi all,

    I'm a new user to the website and hoping to find some input on a printer. Personally, I have little knowledge of printing technologies and am learning along the way.

    My company does flexographic and screen printing of labels. We also have an old Gerber vinyl cutter for aluminum signage and are looking to invest in a printer/cutter to expand on this offering. One vendor recommended the Mimaki CJV30-130, but I was also told about thermal transfer printing.

    Can someone shed some light on the advantages/disadvantages of either technology? Ideally, we would like to print on vinyl and stick it on to aluminum. For the interim we are looking at short run quantities. Thanks!
  2. CS-SignSupply-TT

    CS-SignSupply-TT Very Active Member

    May 31, 2011
    Solvent, Latex vs. Thermal, that IS the question!

    WELCOME from HOT!lanta

    Thermal resin printing technology, ie. Gerber Edge or Summa Durachrome The color is actually melted into the adhesive back vinyl

    Solvent, Latex printing technology acts similar to a desktop printer. The difference is the media is heated prior to the ink being laid on the media. The pores of the media open and the aggressive nature of the inks "bites" into the media. Literally, you can print on any soft to semi-rigid substrate with one of these printers.

    Typically, outdoor durability is better with the the thermal resin technology. However, that extended durability comes with a higher running cost per square foot.
  3. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    Olympia, WA
    This is true for CMYK but costs are lower with spot colors. Also no need for color management with spot colors. Very much like classic screen printing.

    In addition, the workflow is much easier with thermal because there is no need for drying time or lamination. And, there are no ventilation issues either.
  4. Outdoorsignguy

    Outdoorsignguy New Member

    May 24, 2012
    How does the print quality compare between the two? Also, I have heard that thermal transfer printed signs last five years outdoors without fading, and no lamination required. Is that true? The signage we produce are mainly outdoor signs used in harsh chemical environments.
  5. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Welcome from PA.....................
  6. jayhawksigns

    jayhawksigns Very Active Member

    Jan 8, 2005
    We had some Summa prints put in a car wash and some of the chemicals that are used there took the ink off. Don't care about the print process, if someone says it'll be around chemicals you need to laminate.

    Can't speak about the Gerber, but when it comes to full color, and the smoothness of the image, inkjets win out. But if you can work within the bounds of the spot colors of your thermal printer then that is where they really shine.

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