Thermal transfer printers are still one of the most popular forms of printing barcodes. “This low cost printing solution has been around now for more than 20 years and is still unmatched in regards to print durability, clarity and the wide variety of materials it can transfer an image to.” says Neil Crump, Peacock Bros. Managing Director.
Thermal transfer printers have now become a commodity in virtually every business, whether in manufacturing, commerce, medical, government or retail. Today they are used to produce identification labels or tags for goods such as garments, toys, tools, beverages, electronics, motor parts, cleaning products and the like. Look around and you will see barcodes attached to most items, even postage is tracked using barcodes today.
How did this phenomenon come about?
Barcodes started appearing in the 1980’s and were used within the retail sector for a more efficient method of stock control. Industry’s also used them internal generally to track work-in-progress. Barcodes were using a computer dot matrix printer and then upgraded later to a desktop inkjet or laser printer. These printing methods had their pitfalls, and it wasn’t until the Thermal Transfer Printer arrived in 1987 with easy to use software that barcodes became an efficient way of tracking products.
Zebra Technologies was one of the first companies to pioneer this new technology and is now one the leading manufacturers in the world and used as the benchmark for printer comparisons. Peacock Bros. recognised the potential in Zebras’ products and quickly established its market in Australia. The popularity of Thermal Transfer printing was that the client could choose to print on a wide range of materials when compared to inkjet or laser.
Today, the range of usable materials includes paper, tags, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester, PVC, plus many more specialty constructions. Laser printers on the other hand can only print on a very limited number of materials and is not cost effective when you compare thermal transfer ribbons to toners. Printer durability is also a key factor and many Thermal Transfer printers and labels are produced in hostile environments, a label might be subjected to extremes in temperature and weather. All Zebra Thermal Transfer printers are built with this mindset and Peacock Bros. still service today some of the original printers sold in the early 1990’s, a testament to Zebras manufacturing capabilities.
Some important keys to printer longevity is using the right label and ribbon combinations. Many company procurement officers do not understand the specifics required in reducing spare parts overheads such as costly printhead replacements. Peacock Bros. before releasing any ribbon or label products thoroughly test and record performance in there QA Department for future reference and customer education. Many companies make the mistake of purchasing the cheapest materials and ribbons, not taking into account that printhead life can be greatly reduced due to higher printhead temperature settings and increasing printhead pressure in obtain an adequate print. Higher temperatures cause the surface liner of the ribbon to fuse onto the printhead causing failure earlier than usual. This can result in costly manufacturing or distribution stoppages while the printer is being repaired. Peacock Bros. consultants and technicians often see these errors and happily advise on a preferable labels/ribbon combination.
To help companies pick the correct material and ribbon for their specific application, Peacock Bros. has produced a free brochure on label/ribbon stock compatibility. Its full graphical representation allows you to quickly assess your requirements. This free brochure may save you thousands of dollars in the future.
For your copy of this brochure or advice and information on your label printing needs, contact Peacock Bros. on: 1300723 282 or email us at [email protected]