The Basics: What To Look When Selecting a Thermal Barcode Printer


Compared to other different printing technologies, thermal barcode printers are a most practical alternative to generate high-quality labels, tags, wristbands and receipts. Thermal printing is more economical, easy to use, requires less maintenance and printing quality is better and faster.



Because this technology differ from common laser and inkjet printers, you need to select accordingly to your business needs. There are some basic considerations in order to select a Thermal Printer:

  1. What do you need to print?: Shipping Labels, Property Labels, Nutritional Facts, Components Labels, Continuous labels, Carton Tags, Receipts, Wristbands for Patients or Guests. ID Cards.
  2. Desired life span of the label: This will help to select the correct technology between Direct Thermal or Thermal Transfer.
  3. Place of the Label: This helps determine the size of the label.
  4. Label and Material Handling: If you are printing and applying manually or using if you are using a Printer Applicator (P&A), you need to determine what is the speed and the direction in relation with the conveyor.
  5. Label Content: Which barcode symbology you are going to use and what is the content and resolution required. At this point you may need to determine if you are going to include images or human readable characters.
  6. Printing Volume: It is important to establish how many labels are you going to print, in which time. Establish if you are going to print continuously on-demand or by batch.
  7. Compatibility and Integration: If you are substituting a printer on an existing application, you need to make sure the new printer “speak” the same language as the other printers. Take in consideration you current label design or if you need to design a new label with fixed and variable information, you will need an integration of your label design software with database connectivity.
  8. User and Environment: Determine if your application requires chemical resistant printer and materials. Also take in consideration where the label is going to be place, if it is an indoor or outdoor environment, humidity, heat, inside a cooler or in an office.
  9. Connectivity: Today’s many standard printers come with USB, Serial (RS-232), Parallel and Ethernet. However, other options are available, like wireless connectivity through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC on certain mobile printers.
  10. Additional options: Depending on your application, whether an label cutter, peel off or rewinder mechanism or even a RFID encoder are appropriate. In more industry-specifics compliance requirements, a mounted online verifier scanner helps you analyze each label, ensuring it meets your specific print quality requirements and stop the print process if grading requirements are not met.

Printing Technology: Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer

Direct Thermal

Direct thermal technology (DT) uses heat-sensitive media that turn black as it passes under the printhead. DT printers are known for their easiness. DT labels are typically not well-matched for harsh environments, changing temperature, long exposure to heat or sunlight exposure or chemical abrasion, contraire to thermal media that can be top coated to resist these conditions. Direct thermal printing produces good quality printing with good scan reading using only one consumable. For short term labeling applications, direct thermal is the most efficient print method.

Thermal Transfer

Thermal transfer technology (TT) uses a ribbon, which when heated into the label by the printhead, transfer the “ink” to the media. This method makes possible to use more specific label materials, like polypropylene and polyester, for outdoor and harsh environments. Additionally, TT technology allows for a longer shelf life, ideal for Manufacturing, Asset Tracking, Transportation among other industries applications. Though cost is higher per printing, label readability and endurance is much higher.

How does it Works?


Types of Printers

Desktop Printers

This type of printer are ideal for small volume applications. They are perfect for small spaces like in an office, healthcare laboratory or retail for light-duty printing. Printers like the Zebra G-Series, TLP/LP2824 Plus produce the same quality and wide range of media as industrial printers, just for smaller volume.









Mid-Range Printers

Small to medium-size manufacturing, warehousing, distribution companies and government agencies require the ability to produce a moderate-volume of printed labels for a variety of applications including product labeling, asset tracking, shipping/receiving, inventory and even compliance labeling, among others. Mid-range printers fill this gap, where a desktop printer may not be enough for a little more demanding application.





Industrial or High performance

Industrial printers stand up to the most demanding applications to keep operations up and running. They are designed for the most rugged and demanding environment. They are the smartest investment for organizations with high-volume, high-speed, 24/7 mission-critical or specialty labeling applications.











Mobile printing is widely familiar as a means to improve efficiency as part of an Enterprise Mobility Solution. Whether you need to print barcode labels, receipts or tickets, these mobile solutions increase accuracy by enabling printing on-site and on-demand. They are very helpful for shipping and receiving processes, sales force automation, shelf pricing and merchandising, payment and collection processing, and general field workforce.










Although standard label printers can also print wristbands, if you have specific wristband printing needs, a wristband printer can offer you additional benefits. These printers are designed to produce a complete range of wristband styles, sizes and colors for healthcare, amusement, water-park and entertainment applications.   These printers are easy to use, with a higher print resolution for crisp, accurate printing of images









At MultiSystems, we provide all the programming and implementation services, report generation and tailored software solutions to address your printing and labeling needs. Contact us today and learn how we can integrate today’s technologies with your existing labeling and identification process. – See more at:


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