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Get Best Quality of Prints with Thermal Printers and Thermal Transfer Ribbons

Posted by BK on 17th Jun 2020

A good quality print made easily and that last long can convey messages clearly and make a good impression on the minds of the users. To achieve the objective, a high-quality thermal printer is needed that can perform quality printing at a high speed and can be also cost-effective. Industrial thermal printers can be the right choice for this purpose and most retailers are switching to such efficient, reliable, and budget-friendly printers at a rapid pace.

Types of thermal printers

Thermal printing can be highly flexible that allows easy integration with various types of printing and labeling systems. There are various types of thermal label printers that are suitable for printing receipts, barcodes, logistic labels, shipping labels, food service labels, bill of lading, etc. The thermal label printers are available in two types that are direct thermal label printers and thermal transfer label printers.

  • Thermal transfer label printers: Thermal transfer printers with ribbons produce more durable labels that need to last long and labels that may be exposed to UV light, chemicals, or harsh environment. Different types of thermal transfer labels and ribbons are available, depending on the type of durability you need such as standard matte paper labels to glossy polyester labels for outdoor use.
  • Direct thermal label printers: Direct Thermal label printers do not require a ribbon because Direct thermal labels have a special heat-sensitive topcoat which turns to black when heat from the printhead is applied to the label. Direct thermal printers are great for quick logistic labels, shipping labels.

There are many types of printers within the thermal label printers:

  • Desktop thermal printers – desktop thermal printers are available in direct thermal or thermal transfer. These are small desktop printers that take little space and use a 1” core. So they will take label rolls that have 1” core and 4 inches to 5-inch roll diameter.
  • Mobile thermal printers – mobile printers are very small handheld printers that can be used for printing labels while moving across the warehouse or issuing parking tickets. Mobile printers are generally based on Direct Thermal print technology and hold small label rolls with a ¾” core and roll diameters around 2”.
  • RFID thermal printers – RFID printers are available in direct thermal and thermal transfer in both desktop and industrial printer models. They print and encode RFID chips in the label at the same time.
  • Industrial thermal printers – these printers are designed to print a larger volume of labels in a busy environment in either direct thermal or thermal transfer labels. Industrial direct thermal or thermal transfer printers are faster and hold larger label rolls on 3” cores that can be up to 8” OD. Industrial thermal transfer printers will also hold larger ribbon capacity so that they can run larger print jobs before having to change the ribbon.

Benefits of Using Thermal Printers

There are several benefits of using thermal printers and a few key benefits are as follows:

  • Very fast speed of printing: Thus, faster checkouts of customers, serving more customers, faster shipping, and selling more goods can be done easily by a few numbers of employees.
  • The economy in print: Replacing ink cartridges can be costly for a user of the printer. But in the case of a thermal printer, the printed images are transferred on the pages by heating, thus saving a lot of money towards buying ribbons or cartridges. There is no need to use ink toner cartridges in thermal printers.
  • Very low maintenance: Malfunctioning of a printer can cost a lot of opportunities due to an increase in downtime. Since there are no moving parts in thermal printers, there is less maintenance required and the printers are easy to maintain.
  • Superior workflow efficiency: There is a very low interruption in workflow while using a thermal printer that gives greater output in a very little time.
  • Print Resolution: Thermal printers are available in three different print resolutions - 200 dpi, 300 dpi, and 600 dpi.Higher the DPI (dot per inch) sharper the text will be. If you are printing very small text in your labels, then you might want to consider a higher resolution dpi like 300 or 600 dpi.
  • Improved quality of images: The quality of prints in a thermal printer is excellent and there is no smudging of ink and no fading of images due to lack of ink. The images produced are clear to read and are capable to endure UV rays, water damage, and also extreme conditions of weather.

What type of Thermal Transfer Ribbon Do I use with Thermal Transfer Printer?

Thermal transfer label printers use different types of thermal transfer ribbons that can be coated with wax or a wax-resin or polyester film or pure resin.The various types of resins that are used in thermal transfer ribbons are meant for printing different types of applications like a harsh environment.

The wax ribbons can produce fine quality images if paired with coated or smooth paper label. However, contact with water should not be there in such types of resins. Ribbons that are made of pure resins are made to print on plastic labels like the vinyl or polyester and the resin can dissolve on the plastic surface slightly that makes it more durable.

Most brands of thermal barcode label printers use only coated side out or coated side in and some printers can use both. Thus, while buying a thermal barcode label printer, it is necessary to check the type of roll that the printer supports. As the ribbon and the label are in motion under printhead, heating, and cooling of pixels take place that melts the “ink” of the film of polyester to the label. Thus paying attention to what type of ink can work well with what type of labels is very important to check.