Thermal Print Durability

I have a client who asked about durability of thermal print and how much wear and tear it can take before it “rubs” off the disc. We’ve been doing thermal print for years and haven’t heard of any problems but then again, we don’t have direct feedback from customers on how many discs get returned if thermal print wears off.

I’m curious if anyone has any data on the longevity of thermal print in a heavy usage environment…say like a library.


Shouldn’t be any different than standard silkscreen labels, assuming a proper disc surface and application. Given enough abuse, anything will wear off. Put it this way: if it gets enough abuse to effect the thermal label, the disc is prolly unreadable anyhow.

It will depend on if it is thermal transfer (Prism/Inscripta) or thermal retransfer (Everest/P55). Thermal printers don’t have a top coating protecting the discs so the likelyhood of scratches depends on the type of ribbon and even the color. Black is much more resistant and uses less wax in the base making it more durable than red/blue/green single color or CMY multi-color ribbons. As Dan pointed out these are on par with most silk screened discs, but I personally feel they are more fragle.

Thermal retransfer discs, like a disc off a P55 or Everest, use a secondary trasnfer process that sandwiches the print between the disc and a thin, clear coating protecting the image. These is a more durable process than silk screening or offset printing. If you can scratch the disc, typically you’re going to take the reflective layer with it.