Thermal label. What to choose ECO or TOP?

One of the first questions that arise if you need to buy thermal labels – is what material to choose ECO or TOP? Many Internet publications are devoted to materials for thermal print characteristics, but in practice today we still face with insufficient explanations. So in this article we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of thermal labels, consider the examples and usage of labels that will help you to make the right choice.

So what is a thermal label?

Thermal labels (labels for thermal printing) in rolls are used in thermal printers and electronic scales. This is the main advantage of this type of label –one can label production quickly, in the place where it is needed and input the information that changes constantly - for example, the date of packing, the weight of this product and so on. Images are obtained by heating;it means that text is actually burned on a paper with hot needles in the printer. Something similar can be observed, for example, on checks of ATMs - thermal paper is the same, only thinner and without adhesive layer.

Accordingly to check whether the material is suitable for thermal printing is very simple - you need to run your nail over the paper (or bring up a lighter). During nail sliding the paper is heated and black strip appears (seephoto).


If the strip has a saturated black color, this material is ECO. If the strip is fuzzy –this is a thermal TOP, it has an additional protective layer. The differences between them will be discussed later.

Once again I emphasize that thermal printers or electronic scales print (burn) the text only of black color. Why is it important to pay attention to this point? We often see color labels with logos (e.g. in a supermarket) - this label also has a promotional function. This means that labels in scales are with the previous printing. Examples of such labels are shown in the picture:


To order labels with print it takes time to prepare for printing (creation and approval of layout, the production of polymeric forms - cliché) printing actually and logicallycosts more. But in this case, you can choose the size of the label other than the standard, it is easier forthe consumer to find your product on the shelf, label is additionally advertising company or brand, looks more attractive. Also, when ordering individual labels you may additionally protect parts of label by varnishing. Let’s look more on an example of using different thermal labels for one product group (see photo). In this case, cheeses.


Label left is purely informational, but the need to indicate a large amount of text predetermines using labels of larger size and preprint, because such print is clearer, readable and saves time for the companyon printing. While the label on the right side is bright, attractive for a buyer and advertised brand.

Overall main disadvantage of thermal labels is their fragility. Materials for thermal printing are very sensitive to sunlight, moisture, friction and so on. Their term of operation and storage is short, but for certain fields of enterprising it does not matter. For example, the thermal labels should be used for food with a small shelf life. Also marking with thermal labels can be used by logistics (transport) companies for transportation or delivery. The same principle is applied in supermarkets, where the main purpose of the label is to bring information about the cost and the weight of the goods from electronic scale to the cashier. If it is important for you to save label for a long time, you must use thermal transfer label (see article "Thermal transfer labels. Their advantages and disadvantages.").

Furthermorewe will consider the differences between ECO and TOP materials.

ECO –is a cheaper material, but no additional protective layer makes it less stable and short in use. Term of using of ECO label depends primarily on the operating conditions - friction, moisture, sunlight, etc., and an average term is from 1 hour to 2 months.

TOP has a protective layer - coated paper surface; label retains printed image or textlonger, is suitable for deep freezes. You can see the different options of materials - paper thickness, type of adhesive, temperature of using,depending on the standards of the manufacturer. European manufacturers of materials offer TOP operating temperature range from -40 to 70 degrees Celsius, making it possible to use TOP labels for products stored in refrigerators. This label will last longer, but is more expensive. In addition, unlike ECO, for greater stability label may be additionally protected with water-based varnish or UV varnish.

So, when you are choosing the labels you should consider the specificity of their use. Therefore, we recommend - if you have not previously used the self-adhesive labels in rolls and are not sure which material is best suited for you, it is best to try different kinds, and then you can buy more rolls.