Tips and Advice on Thermal Transfer Label Printers
- Paper vs. Synthetic Thermal Transfer Labels
- The Two Types of Thermal Transfer Printers
- The Print Quality of a Thermal Transfer Printer
- Bargain Thermal Label Printers
- Expensive Thermal Label Printers
- Thomas & Betts Label Printer
- The Advantages of Heat Transfer Labels
- Troubleshooting Messages From Your Label Printer
- Thomas & Betts Expands its Tape Choices
- The Benefits of Thermal Transfer Label Printers
Paper vs. Synthetic Thermal Transfer Labels
Thermal transfer technology uses a ribbon and matching tag stock material to transfer an image onto the label material.
Thermal transfer labels can come in paper or synthetic forms. The paper labels are inexpensive and offer excellent print quality and are good for many general-purpose applications. For example, paper thermal transfer labels are ideal for shipping, receiving, work-in-progress labels, high initial tack and adhesion on corrugated material.
Synthetic thermal transfer labels are durable, long lasting, and resistant to abrasion, moisture, heat, tearing, and chemicals. For example, acrylic labels can be used for outdoor applications requiring long-term weather resistance and can be topcoated to last a decade. And polyester can be used for outdoor and underwater endurance.
The Two Types of Thermal Transfer Printers
A thermal transfer printer or thermal transfer label printer uses heat to melt a wax-based ink onto a label.
Thermal transfer printers are popular for printing bar codes, labels, price tags, and other specialty print jobs. There are two types of thermal transfer printers: direct thermal and thermal wax transfer.
Direct thermal: prints the image by burning dots onto coated paper as it passes over the heated printhead. Direct thermal printers do not use ribbons. Early fax machines used direct thermal printing. The major downside to direct thermal printing is that you need to use specially coated paper. Also, the images on coated paper will eventually fade, which means it may last no longer than three months. However, full barrier coated labels can last for up to two years.
Thermal wax transfer: uses a thermal transfer ribbon that contains wax-based ink. Heat is applied to the ribbon using a thermal printhead that melts the ink transferring it to the paper where it is permanent after it cools. A typical thermal transfer ribbon consists of three layers --: the base material, the heat melting ink, and the coating on the print side of the base material. The coating and base material help keep ink from adhering to the printhead which can cause poor print quality. Monochrome and color thermal transfer ribbons are available. It is recommended that the printhead be cleaned between each ribbon change with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. With thermal transfer you are not limited to paper for your labels. Film bases such as polyester provide labels with long life and substantial resistance to abrasion and chemicals for harsh environments.
The Print Quality of a Thermal Transfer Printer
As we've said, a thermal transfer printer or thermal transfer label printer uses heat to melt a wax-based ink onto a label. If you are shopping for a thermal transfer printer, you should know that the print quality of a thermal transfer printer depends on the following:
- the printer
- the ribbon
- the environment where the printer is stored
- the temperature
Ask an expert about how you can choose the thermal transfer printer that will work at its potential in your work environment.
Bargain Thermal Label Printers
If you're on the market for a bargain thermal label printer, here is a rough guideline for what you'll find for less than $90.
You will find products by Dymo, Brother, SiPix, Dell and Casio. The Dymo Labelpoint 100 Thermal PrinterPros is an inexpensive handheld printer that offers a wide variety of tape colors and is easy to use. However, beware that with a low price might come a high cost in some other arena. For example, replacement tape cartridges for this machine can be expensive.
Expensive Thermal Label Printers
Thermal label printers can cost upwards of $600. To determine the best printer for your label needs, talk to your customer service representative for a variety of options and prices.
It's a good idea to check the cost of ink on these products because ink can be expensive. Also, it's a good idea to check out reviews on Web sites such as epinions.com to see how user-friendly an expensive product is before reaching for your wallet.
Thomas & Betts Label Printer
There are many types of label printers on the market for home and industrial use. One product line to consider is Thomas & Betts.
Two young Princeton classmates, Robert M. Thomas and Hobart D. Betts, joined forces and began selling rigid conduit to electrical distributors in New York in 1898. From there, a company was born.
Whether hidden behind walls, concealed inside machinery and appliances, or dotting the landscape, it's a good bet that Thomas & Betts products are present wherever electricity is required.
Today, the company continues to build its legacy of innovation and leadership. Its commitment to leadership in the electrical and construction industry and its focus on customer service and distribution to its major markets insures a strong and bright future for Thomas & Betts.
One Thomas & Betts product to consider is the Thomas and Betts EZL-100 thermal transfer label printer. It uses thermal transfer print technology to produce labels that are durable, smear proof, and resists chemicals, solvents, grease, heat, moisture, and other harsh elements. Available in permanent polyester (for general labeling), and flexible nylon (for wire and cable wrapping, even on rough surfaces) varieties, EZ labels will stick and stay stuck even in industrial environments.
The Advantages of Heat Transfer Labels
There are many advantages to using heat transfer labels. Some of them are listed below.
- They produce a very sharp image
- Because it is ink, you do not feel it once it's been applied
- It's extremely durable and can be washed numerous times without fading
- Images can be created in full color
- It can be produced in very short runs
Troubleshooting Messages From Your Label Printer
You're used to getting text messages and pages from your friends and your mother, but how about your label printer?
You can buy some label printers that are equipped with active alert messaging and Web-based remote configuration. This means that troubleshooting messages can be sent from the printer to a wireless mobile device, pager, or text-capable cellular telephone.
If this is something that interests you, shop around for a machine with this capability.
Thomas & Betts Expands its Tape Choices
If you have a Thomas & Betts product, you'll be interested to know that the company has added red flexible vinyl and clear permanent polyester tapes to its line of labels this summer for the E-Z-Code EZL-100 Thermal Label Printer.
Both selections offer an EZ-Peel split backing, industrial-strength adhesive and smear-free printing, and are available in easily loaded cassettes that hold 18 feet of tape.
The red vinyl tape is available in three-fourths inch width and is highly visible. It is good for use outside and inside and is resistant to oils, dirt, grime and solvents. The tape offers flexibility and a strong adhesive, which enables it to hold firmly to both flat or curved surfaces as well as smooth to highly textured ones.
The clear polyester tape, available in one half inch to three-fourths inch widths, adheres permanently to smooth to moderately textured flat surfaces, such as bin tags, switch plates, terminal blocks, shelving and patch panels.
The Benefits of Thermal Transfer Label Printers
There are many benefits to using thermal transfer label printers. They include:
- "On demand" printing, which gives the exact amount of labels you need without wasting.
- Speed -- very fast, often up to 26cms of label material per second, which is ideal for high volume jobs.
- When used with the right label stock and ribbons, thermal transfer printers can produce very durable, scratch-resistant labels.
- Thermal transfer printers normally produce very high quality bar codes of good definition.
The biggest downside to thermal transfer printers is the higher initial cost. Because these are specialist printers and are not mass produced, they cost more initially.
However, think about the payback on such an item. The higher initial cost can often be significantly offset by a lower overall cost per label. When volume label production is required, thermal transfer is usually the best and most cost-effective option.Return to Top