Your business requires quality labels on an ad hoc or random basis. The print runs are small, so a professional printing facility isn’t feasible or cost-effective. What do you do? Obviously you need to buy a label printer, but which one?
The market in label printers is vast and complicated – there are countless brands, models and technologies to choose from. It’s easy to get confused and make an expensive mistake.
Apart from choosing a reputable brand with durability, the key factor in buying a label printer is the technology type. Label printers generally use “direct thermal” or “thermal transfer” technology to produce a label. Both technology types have their pros and cons.
Direct Thermal versus Thermal Transfer
Direct thermal printers use heat sensitive labels and don’t require a ribbon – hence they’re cheaper and easier to operate. The downside is that the labels usually fade within 12 months, particularly if exposed to sunlight, heat or chemicals. Labels produced by direct thermal technology are ideal for short-term applications, such as patient wristbands, pathology specimen labels and shipping labels.
By contrast, thermal transfer printers use heat to chemically transfer ink from a carbon-based ribbon onto a label. The resulting labels have greater definition and durability than “direct thermal” labels. Thermal transfer printing also accommodates other ink colours (besides black) and a greater range of label stocks (paper, film, foil, PVC vinyl). Applications for “thermal transfer” labels include safety labels and high-density barcodes.
Other technology types include laser and impact, but these are less popular than direct thermal and thermal transfer.
Your choice of label printer will depend primarily on the application and the frequency of use. Barcode Dynamics offers a wide range of desktop printers, label printer applicators, RFID readers and industrial printers from the world’s leading brands, including Zebra, Honeywell, Datamax and Intermec.