A Complete Guide to Thermal Print Heads in Barcode Printers

2024-02-29 16:50

A thermal print head (TPH) is an important component a barcode printer, which affects the print quality and the printer’s lifespan. This guide will help you understand its functions, types, costs, and best practices for longevity.

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What is a Thermal Print Head in a Barcode Printer?

Thermal print head houses a row of highly precise heating elements that can rapidly heat up. Upon receiving a command, the CPU, precisely controls the heating mode, time, and temperature of the printhead’s heating elements, forming the desired barcode, graphics, and texts on the label substrate.

There are two main types based on printing technology: direct thermal and thermal transfer print heads.

1. Direct Thermal Print Heads

● Utilize heating elements to activate thermal paper, causing it to discolor and form images or text.

● Do not require ribbons, offering lower printing costs.

● Produce lesser print quality compared to thermal transfer and are prone to fading.

2. Thermal Transfer Print Heads

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● Utilize heating elements to melt the ink on a ribbon, transferring it to the label paper to form images or text.

● Require ribbons, resulting in higher printing costs.

● Produce superior print quality and durable labels.

● Support a wider range of label materials, including synthetic paper, silver paper, and cloth tags.

While both types of TPH operate on the principle of using heat to create texts and barcodes, their structures are tailored to their specific printing processes. For instance, thermal transfer print heads may have a longer lifespan because they interact with a smooth ribbon rather than the paper.

What is the Resolution of a Thermal Print Head?

The density of heating dots on the TPH determines the printing resolution. It’s measured in dots per inch (DPI), and determines the sharpness and clarity of printed barcodes and labels. Higher DPI translates to finer detail and more precise printing.

Common DPI options include:

● 203 DPI: Ideal for standard shipping labels, larger barcodes, and basic text.

● 300 DPI: Suitable for most label sizes, small fonts, intricate barcodes, and graphics, such as fabric tags, jewelry labels, and asset tags.

● 600 DPI: Best for high-resolution images, fine lines, and small, complex barcodes, such as PCB QR codes.

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How Often to Replace the Thermal Print Head in a Barcode Printer?

The lifespan of a printhead varies based on print volume, media type, and maintenance. Should you encounter issues such as poor print quality, missing dots, or faded prints, these are indicative of printhead problems, often signaling the need for a replacement.

Regular maintenance can extend its life, but typically, a thermal print head may need replacement after printing 2 to 3 million linear inches. The subsequent cost of print head replacement is a critical factor to consider when choosing a printer.

How Much Does a Thermal Print Head Cost?

The barcode printer head price ranges significantly, influenced by factors such as printer model, resolution (dpi), and manufacturer. Its cost can account for more than one-third of the total cost of the printer.

Generally, printhead prices can vary from tens to several hundred dollars. Investing in a quality TPH is crucial, as it directly impacts the printer’s performance and the quality of your barcodes.

When purchasing barcode printers, you should balance the printhead cost with its durability and reliability. iDPRT barcode printers offer advanced printhead technology that guarantees extended lifespan and consistently high-quality prints at an economical price.

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Our industrial barcode printer heads feature a modular design for easy installation and support easy switching among 203dpi, 300dpi and 600dpi resolutions. This design allows users tailoring printing precision to meet their specific needs.

How to Prolong Your Printhead’s Life?

Prolonging the life of your printhead requires regular maintenance and proper handling. Here are some tips:

● Clean the thermal print head regularly using recommended cleaning solutions and tools to remove debris and buildup that can cause damage.

● Use high-quality paper and ribbons to reduce wear and tear.

● Adjust the printhead pressure and temperature settings according to the media being used to minimize unnecessary stress on the printhead.

● Regularly inspect the printhead for signs of wear or damage and address any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration.

Before purchasing barcode printers, you should get a full understanding of their key components, including TPH. The performance and the cost of replacement of the print head will significantly influence your decision-making.

Reach out to us for expert advice on bulk purchasing barcode printers and thermal print heads tailored to your specific needs, and take the first step towards optimizing your printing solutions today.

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