Packaging logistics can often be a tricky topic for small businesses - with so many considerations to look out for such as price, utility, longevity, and sustainability. The same rings true for when small business owners have to decide on a printer for courier labels. We’ve all seen that cliche in movies where a lacklustre label printer becomes the bud of everyone’s daily frustrations. Yet, as shipping labels are a must-have for any type of package orders, it is important to have a high-quality printer that matches your business operations. Let’s discuss some of the finer points to take note of when it comes to selecting the right thermal printer for your small business.
What to Look at When Choosing a Thermal Printer
1. Print method
The first thing you have to decide, before embarking on your journey of selection, is the print method most often used by businesses of all sizes. With so many varieties on the market like inkjet printing, direct thermal printing, thermal transfer printing - what does it all mean?
For starters, a traditional inkjet printer works by spraying or injecting droplets of ink from an ink cartridge onto your surface of choice. Invented in the 1950s, very little has changed about inkjet printers over the course of years. On the other hand, thermal printers that were developed decades after have undergone significant innovations, resulting in two different types of thermal printing.
Direct thermal printing involves using a heating element in the printer to imprint heat-activated label stock, in order to achieve the desired effect. If you’ve ever been handled a receipt, chances are it was printed using a direct thermal printer. The benefits of direct thermal printing are largely financial as this method does not require any ink or printer ribbons. The only component that requires routine upkeep is the label stock.
Thermal transfer printing, as the name would suggest, involves the use of heat to chemically bond the ink to a label. The word “label” is used as thermal transfer printers is more fluid in the sense that they can utilise a wide variety of media choices - such as sticker labels, cardboard packaging or even padded envelopes. All that comes at a cost as thermal transfer printers require constant replacement of the printer ribbons.
2. Print speed and volume
Comparing the two thermal printing methods, direct thermal printing is inherently quicker and requires less effort to maintain. Simply swapping out the label stock and maintaining the heat element is all that is required to effectively churn out. Thermal transfer printing, however, is a little more precise and time-consuming due to the quality of image. It also requires insight from the user to know what ink ribbon goes best with the print media selected. This might be a deal-breaker for small businesses that require their printer to work quickly due to a high turnover.
Small businesses that focus on speed and efficiency of their copies might sway more towards direct thermal printers. Sticker labels and receipts that don’t require a long shelf life are particularly suited for this sort of printing method. On the other side of the coin, if you’re a business in Singapore that relies heavily on quality of labels such as barcodes and work with different types of packaging supplies, then thermal transfer printers ought to be your go-to choice.
4. Required label size
Label size is also a key in selecting a thermal printer. Direct thermal printers tend to make smaller-sized copies, whereas thermal transfer printers have the flexibility to imprint on whatever size material they choose. This is also reflected in the overall size of each machine - direct thermal printers usually being smaller than their direct thermal counterparts.
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Taking into account all these factors, it’s crucial for small business owners to pick the perfect printer that suits their needs. Consider MillionParcel’s direct thermal printer, a model which is not only compact but also easy to operate.