The P&A labeller prints onto label media, usually paper.
In Thermal Transfer mode the ribbon is coated with an ink which is typically wax or wax/resin. By applying heat to the ribbon the ink is melted and transferred onto the label and the image is created. In Direct Thermal mode the label material contains a heat sensitive chemical which changes colour when heat is applied. This means that no ribbon is required to create an image on the label.
When the label or label and ribbon are driven beneath the print head, tiny pixels or thermal pads across it are heated and cooled to create the image. This process happens very quickly and the image is dry instantly.
The most common applicator is the Tamp. The label is held via a vacuum onto a pad and then the pad is extended out, to meet the product being labelled. The product can be stationary or moving. Sometimes air is also blown through the pad at the point of contact with the product - this is referred to as a Tamp-Blow applicator. A Blow applicator simply blows the label onto a product without the applicator making contact with the product.
If long labels are to be applied, either to the side of a carton or more commonly around a corner, then a Wipe or Reverse Wipe applicator can be used. A large pad accepts the label as it is dispensed from the printer and held in place with a vacuum. As the box approaches the applicator, the pad is tilted out to meet the box and the label is wiped onto the side of it.