In addition to price increase on receipt paper, direct thermal labels, and thermal release liner, a whole slew of related products could be affected as well.
Thermal transfer labels and ribbons are two items that come to mind. In the world of thermal printing, there are two different types of label paper. One is direct thermal, of which this article is dedicated to. The second is thermal transfer. Thermal transfer labels are different from direct thermal labels, in that they require a wax ribbon to print. (Click here learn more about thermal transfer vs. direct thermal labels).
Traditionally, it has been a little bit cheaper to use thermal transfer labels than direct thermal labels. In the short term, that gap should widen as direct thermal prices increase due to all of the factors already mentioned. However, that shouldn’t last long.
If a wave of direct thermal users make the switch to thermal transfer labels, we could see a squeeze on the supply of the wax ribbons needed in thermal transfer printers. In 2011, we experienced just that. There was a global shortage of wax ribbons that came as a result of fluctuating polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film prices. The shortage was accelerated by a huge spike in demand for solar panels, which requires the same 4.5 micron PET film utilized in production of thermal wax ribbons. PET film is one of the components that is used to make thermal wax ribbons.
This shortage led to roughly 18 months of instability in thermal wax ribbon prices. It is entirely possible that if a high percentage of direct thermal users switch to thermal transfer, there could be a rise in wax ribbon prices.