For flathead thermal printing, the print head is fixed in a horizontal position. It lays flat against the ribbon and media with the heating elements localized in the center of the print head. As the ribbon passes over the heated thermal print head, it transfers ink onto the media.
Both the ribbon and media move together for a short distance after, giving the ink time to cool and solidify. This means that for this type of thermal printing, the substrate and ribbon come into contact with the print head for a longer period of time.
Flathead thermal transfer is the more traditional choice for thermal printing technology, making it more commonly found in printers on the market. Flathead printing operates best in medium volume sized printers, which includes all industrial and most desktop printers.
Known brands that use flathead printing include:
- Avery Dennison
Flathead printing is able to utilize black ribbons for printing multiple applications on multiple kinds of ribbon material, such as wax, wax/resin, and resin. It is able to be used on paper materials as well as synthetic substrates, like polypropylene, polyester, and vinyl.
Flathead printing supports slower print speeds more easily, around 14ips or inches per second, on average. While it does require less maintenance than near edge printing, users should still be mindful of regular print head maintenance in order to prolong the print quality and print head life. We’ll discuss this more a little later on.