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Choosing The Right Printer

Here are some pointers that you should bear in mind when choosing your Thermal Printer

  • Label Size Printers are normally restricted by print width i.e. 2, 4 or even 8 inches. The wider the printer can print the more expensive it will be so choose accordingly. Although most printers can print very ’long’ labels always double check the one you select can do so - especially if your labels are more than a few inches longer than the print width.
  • Speed Thermal printing speed is measured in Inches per Second (IPS). This is the only constant as they are designed to work on an infinite variety of label sizes. Like the impact printers they may have options that affect the print speed. A rough rule of thumb is that the faster the printer is printing the poorer the quality ’may’ become - depending on a wide range of factors.
  • Volumes - Normally this is the length of media you may print on, measured in feet or metres. Most printers will quote a recommended amount and you should ensure this volume is greater than your anticipated requirements.
  • Types of Label There are two main types (Direct and Thermal Transfer) and thousands of different qualities of media and adhesive for each.
    • Direct Media The label stock is sensitive to heat so the barcodes and other data are ’printed’ directly on to the label stock. This tends to be a cheaper process (no ribbon) but can be more prone to fading and be of a poorer quality.
    • Thermal Transfer The label stock is printed on by using the heat to melt and transfer ink from a ribbon onto the label. This is more expensive as you pay for ribbons and labels, but ensures high quality printing.
  • Media Grade You can buy media across a vast array of quality and pricing. In essence there is no such thing as a free lunch. The less you pay for your media the more you will pay in down time and consumables like print heads.
  • Adhesive You must ensure that you have the right adhesive for your needs. You may require high or low tack rating (stickiness) for peel or for permanency. Also, for example in food production you may need to know the chemical make of the adhesive you are using.

All in all it’s best to speak to a specialist supplier for these things (like us of course). For more information please click here

Further to think about

  • Connectivity ’Normally’ fairly standard but what about that old Twinax or Coax printer over there? Is it hanging off the back of a cluster controller, or being driven over a serial line driver? Do make the effort to find out ’before’ you buy your printers.
  • Language What language are you talking to your printer in? Most manufacturers have their own propietary language. Bear in mind that even though they may ’say’ they emulate such and such language the proof is in the seeing. Always ensure that you will be 100% compatible before rolling out your printers. Often it’s that last 5% that is the tough bit, and can mean the difference between a successful roll out or an expensive failure.
  • Rewind is normally an optional extra. This allows you to rewind the printed labels back onto a spool for transfer and later use which is very handy and stops miles of labels forming big piles on the floor.
  • Peel and Present is an option used for peeling away the backing paper (onto a spool) and presenting the label to the user for application. This is useful and quite clever as you can send a whole batch of labels to the printer but it will only peel and present the first label. When that has been removed it will then print and present the next label and so on.
  • Cutter is an option that will actually cut the labels into individual (or series of) labels. You often come across this in the picking process of large warehouses’.

If you would like any further help then please contact us.


Managed print services – MPS Datatrade have a complete range of managed printer services and solutions for all impact and thermal printers. With fully comprehensive packages that be financed over 3/5 years, demonstrating significant cost savings over a traditional purchase and after market support model.

Remote Print Service Using our remote printer engineer – Reg the virtual printer engineer, Datatrade can ensure maximum uptime and cost savings for your remote mobile printers.

Auto ID Services We offer a comprehensive range of service from the supply and support of new as well as legacy equipment. Even if the manufacturer has discontinued the unit or it has been rebranded. We can also supply a complete range of accessories for all makes and model of barcode scanners such as screen protectors, styluses, batteries and wrist straps.

Audit and discovery Our pre-sales engineers will undertake a full site audit to find / recommend the best printer solutions to meet your supply chain delivery requirements.

Repair We demonstrate an extremely high level of technical expertise and service for a wide range of Printer and Auto ID Products. We can repair onsite or in our workshop. We can also select and help install printers and Auto ID equipment for our customers. We can offer a fully managed Return to Base (RTB) service solution for smaller devices such as Barcode scanners, Hand Held Terminals and mobile printers.

Maintenance Datatrade offer a flexible approach to maintenance and can tailor a contract to suit your needs.

Hardware We can supply printers, printheads, print servers as well as all major brands of barcode scanner and hand held equipment… For further information on finding the right print solution for your business please use our Hardware Selector or for Auto ID enquiries contact us using the details below.

Media and Consumables We fully understand the importance of ensuring that the correct media and consumable’s are used in mission critical printers to ensure perfect print quality and enhance the life of your printer asset so we provide a large range of media and consumables for all manufacturers.

In addition to supplying these items, we will also work with you to ensure you are using the correct product for quality and cost effectiveness.

For further information please Ring +44(0)1604 66-66-01 or email us.
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Datatrade > Knowledge > Thermal Printing FAQ > Choosing The Right Printer