Thermal dye transfer printing technology has found acceptance in many areas, including medical photo imaging and other high-speed digital photo applications. Generally the technology brings the end user a number of advantages. However, up until now, a drawback has been the severe limitations in the type of usable substrates (usually only treated PET film or a surface coated with chemically similar resin). Another drawback has been the security of the attachment of the OP layer which, while strong, is not such as to make it impossible to remove, exposing the dye layer. This disqualifies thermal dye transfer printing from use in sensitive or secure ID applications. Both of these problems are solved, and the gateway to many more applications is opened, with the introduction of the intermediate transfer recording method (hereafter referred to as INTM).The principle of the INTM process is that the dye image is formed on a receiving layer (as in ‘conventional’ thermal dye transfer printing). Unlike this more familiar method, instead of an over-printed protective layer, a heat seal layer is next printed. (The INTM sandwich contains the equivalent of the OP layer found in conventional thermal dye transfer ribbons.) This heat seal layer can now be used, with a heated pressure roller, to attach the receiver layer to a wide variety of desired materials, including paper, stickers, plastic materials, flat sheets and curved surfaces.New applications for the INTM method have been developed, including the printing of Christmas cards, birthday cards, and novelty stickers.
Koichi Shirai, "New Thermal Dye Transfer Printing Applications by Using an Intermediate Transfer Printing Method" in Proc. IS&T Int'l Conf. on Digital Printing Technologies (NIP15), 1999, pp 255 - 257, https://doi.org/10.2352/ISSN.2169-4451.1999.15.1.art00066_1