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What to look for in a thermal printer

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Thermal printers are rugged, reliable and able to function in demanding applications and harsh environments.

A thermal printer is ideal for printing bar coded labels and tags and also compliance labeling, product labeling, chemical labeling and regulatory or safety disclosure.  Thermal printers are durable and have relatively low running costs. There are three key purchasing factors to consider:

  • Resolution

This is measured in dots per inch (dpi) and thermal printers usually do 203, 300 or 600dpi. 203dpi is enough for most bar code label printing jobs. You may need a higher resolution if you print bar codes with a small mil size (the width of the narrowest bar in a code). To print crisp logos or graphic images you need 300 or 600dpi.

  • Speed

Top of the range thermal printers will run at a maximum print speed of 14 inches (356 mm) per second. Mid-range speeds will be 12 inches (305 mm) per second. A bottom of the range thermal printer would print about 6 inches (152 mm) per second.

  • Volume

A top-of-the-range thermal printer will be able to print hundreds or even thousands of labels per day. However, you might also consider purchasing two less expensive printers and splitting the work load between them rather than buying a single machine to do it all. Having two machines will give you greater flexibility and give you a back-up printer when the other is down for maintenance.