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What to look for when choosing thermal printer supplies


When you’re printing barcode labels, you need to ensure that your printer produces clear, crisp barcodes that will remain affixed and readable for the desired purpose. Labels that fall off, become scratched or smeared, or don’t stand up to tough conditions create problems. You can’t accurately track what you can’t scan, and employees waste time reprinting labels or repeatedly scanning a barcode. The losses add up.

You can avoid this waste by choosing the right supplies for your thermal printer. Match the media to your printer. Tell your supplier whether you have a thermal transfer or direct thermal printer.

  •      Direct thermal requires heat-sensitive media.
  •      Thermal transfer has a broader array of choices, including synthetic media (polyester, polypropylene, polymide).

Choose the ribbon that fits your purpose.Direct thermal printers don’t use ribbons, and a thermal transfer ribbon comes in three types: wax, resin, and a combination wax/resin.

  1. Wax ribbons are designed for us on paper facestocks that have little or no exposure to chemicals or abrasion.
  2. Resin ribbons are the choice for printing on synthetic materials for use in environments with exposure to harsh chemicals, excessive abrasion, and where UL/cUL certification is required.
  3. Wax/resin ribbons are used with synthetic media where the labels will be exposed to harsh chemicals, abrasion, and with the required UL/cUL approval.
    Be aware of the label’s use. Choose the facestock that will endure the environment where your label will be used. Extreme temperatures, exposure to sunlight, abrasion, moisture, or chemicals should be factored into your choice of printer supplies, if applicable.

Consider your print speed. Some labels do not perform well at high speeds. If you plan to print at a rate of 12 inches per second (12 ips) or faster, choose a thermal paper label and a high-speed wax ribbon.
   TPI West recommends genuine Zebra supplies, because we know that they are manufactured under stringent guidelines. Zebra guarantees consistent quality because they never substitute materials and pre-test their supplies to ensure they meet or exceed their standards. Zebra also offers thousands of combinations of labels, so we can get the labels for your specific applications. And, of course, no one knows better than Zebra how to get the best quality out of a Zebra printer.
If you need more reasons, how about free printhead replacements? If you use genuine Zebra supplies in your Zebra printer, you qualify to receive replacement printheads at no charge. Just enroll in our Printhead Protection Program. That’s free, too. Also, download this free white paper, “Selecting the Right Label to Identify Your Finished Product”.
Talk to us at TPI West to discuss your barcode label printer supplies so we can guide you to the labels, tags, and ribbons that will deliver the quality and reliability you want.

Tags: TPI West, Zebra supplies, Zebra printer, printer supplies, barcode label printer, thermal printer, barcode labels, direct thermal, thermal transfer, wax ribbons, resin ribbons, wax/resin ribbons


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