What are the Different Types of Label Printers?

Date Posted:20 July 2022 

What are the Different Types of Label Printers? main image What are the Different Types of Label Printers? image

With a large number of label printers on the market, deciding on the best label printer for your business can be a complicated process. This is especially true when you are unaware of the different label printing features that are available.

The reasons behind choosing a label printer extend beyond price of size - though both of these factors may also contribute significantly to your final decision.

To help you find a printer that will rise to the unique challenges of your workplace, we’ve created a summary of the considerations that must be taken into account when researching the best label printer for your business.


Choosing the Right Label Printer for a Business

No two organisations are alike, so it makes sense that most businesses will require various functions from their label printer.

But choosing the best label printer for your business can be near impossible if you haven’t already identified how you are aiming to use the printer and what functions it must execute.

When assessing your options, take into account the following:


Research the quality of each option

To minimise ongoing costs, prioritise finding a printer with a long lifespan.

While less expensive, poorly made or knock-off label printers are significantly more likely to break prematurely or require continual maintenance and repairs.

A quality printer is a crucial investment for your business as it will influence the final outcome of your labels. If you want to produce a quality end product, you’ll first need both quality labels and a reliable printer.

Make sure you dedicate sufficient time to researching each option and reading reviews to get a full idea of the printer’s overall quality and abilities. Don’t ignore the manufacturer of the label printer either, as brand plays a key role in the printer’s reliability. 


Label width and format

Perhaps obvious, but it’s critical to consider whether a specific printer will produce the correct labels for your business.

When researching a label printer, judge each option according to your individual needs. What kind of labels will your printer need to create? Will it need to print various sized labels or will it only be required to print one specific size?

Determining the desired size and format of the labels your ideal printer will produce allows you to further narrow down your options. And remember: wider printers will typically cost more than narrow printers.



How will the printer connect to your current system and receive its printing orders? Will it require wiring or will it ideally be completely wireless?

Most printers will include a USB plugin, but aside from that, there are a range of other options and connectivity options that a label printer can accommodate for. Some popular connectivity options for label printers may include:

  • Ethernet
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Serial or Parallel Port


Direct Thermal vs Thermal Transfer

Direct thermal printing transfers heat directly to the label. Meanwhile, thermal transfer printing involves heat being transferred to a thermal transfer ribbon that then applies the transferred heat to the label. Both types of printers can create high-quality labels, but there are various differences between them that should be taken into account.

The print method of your label printer will play a significant role in its usability. Direct thermal printing is a more economical and manageable alternative to thermal transfer printing. It does not require any ink or ribbon. Instead, direct thermal printers need special heat-sensitive printing materials that blacken when heat is applied.

Labels printed with a direct thermal printer are comparatively more sensitive to abrasions, sun exposure and water exposure. The general rule of thumb is that direct thermal printing is more suited to short term uses, rather than situations that require labels for long-term use (i.e. over 6 months).

Thermal transfer printing is reliable for creating high-quality labels that are more resistant to abrasions and exposure to harsh conditions. Thermal transfer printing is typically used for labels intended for medical equipment, outdoor use, permanent identification or items kept within freezers or cold storages. This type of printing method also accommodates for coloured labels - a feature which is unattainable through direct heat printing.


What is the best thermal label printer?

In addition to the printing method, there are numerous other design and physical factors that may influence your ultimate decision. This includes:

  • The size of the printer
  • The required printing volume capacity
  • Cost of the printer
  • Ease of assembly and usability

There are two types of printers available through Thermal Labels: desktop label printers and industrial printers. Both are designed for specific environments and purposes.

Offices will generally be suited to a desktop label printer, while warehouses, factories and other workspaces exposed to dust and debris are more likely to need a commercial printer, which is purposefully designed to be stored and used in such environments.


Desktop label printer

As they take up minimum space and have quiet printing functions, desktop label printers are ideal for smaller workplaces, such as offices or retail fronts. They are recommended for businesses requiring only light use printing. A desktop barcode label printer can take rolls that are up to 4 inches wide.


Industrial thermal label printer

Industrial printers are designed for medium to heavy use, and can produce hundreds or even thousands of labels every day. These durable types of label printers are intended for use in warehouses, factories or any other industrial facilities that require constant or near-constant printing. An industrial colour label printer can take rolls up to 8 inches wide.

Have any questions about how to find the best label printer for your business? Get in touch with our friendly team who will be more than happy to help you narrow down your options and find your ideal label printer.