Thermal printers use a printing head that is heated to create images. This process produces high-quality prints known for their durability. There are two main types of thermal printers: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Both types utilize a printing head that applies heat to the surface intended for printing.
Thermal printers are particularly useful for generating labels with barcodes, packaging information, security labels, wristbands, and various other labels with extended lifespan or exposure to adverse conditions such as sunlight, humidity, or other challenging environments.
The print head is the core component of a thermal printer, and maintaining it in optimal condition is crucial for achieving high-quality prints. Proper maintenance of the printing head is key to the printer’s longevity and stability.
Follow the tips below for maximizing the lifespan of your thermal printer:
Keep the print head clean
One of the first issues that appears in thermal barcode printers is due to the printhead not being regularly cleaned. A good practice is to clean the printhead each time you replace the ink ribbon or label roll. This is an easy step that can help reduce costs over the printer’s lifespan.
Check the recommended temperature and print intensity settings
In case you frequently change print heads, it is necessary to consult your printer’s user manual for the recommended temperature and print intensity settings. Incorrect settings may reduce the durability of the print head and result in higher costs over the printer’s lifespan. If you are unsure about the required settings, you can contact our technical support, and we will assist you with the installation and settings.
Keep the photocell clean
The label photocell is the component inside the thermal printer that ensures a consistent gap between the label and the print head. Dust and particles on the sensor can disrupt and halt printing operations.
It is recommended to use compressed air for electronic equipment to give a few bursts of air to the sensor. This way, any dust residues from the previous label roll will be removed. This can be done just before inserting your new roll.
Use high-quality ribbons
Low-quality ink ribbons from unknown sources are not manufactured according to the precise specifications of wax or resin, and could potentially cause buildup in the printer. This accumulation may diminish the quality of printing, leading to issues with the content of barcodes and labels.
Use a wider ribbon
When using a thermal transfer printer, a good practice is to place a ribbon that is slightly wider than the label. This additional width will help lubricate the print head, extending its lifespan.
Use only high-quality label paper
There is a possibility that low-cost label rolls may conceal additional costs as they feature rough particles, causing unnecessary wear on print heads and reducing their lifespan. Since print heads are more expensive than rolls, it is recommended to use slightly more expensive labels with better quality.
Keep your printer clean, both inside and out
For the proper functioning of your printer, do not forget to clean both its interior and exterior. When these areas are dirty, there is an increased likelihood of dust and debris entering the wrong areas.
To clean the external surfaces of the printer, use a lint-free cloth. Do not use harsh or abrasive cleaning agents or solvents. If necessary, a mild detergent solution can be used sparingly.
You should check the interior space after approximately every four label rolls. Remove any impurities and lint from the inside of the printer using a soft brush.
Don’t forget to clean the head and the roller
- Open the print head.
- Remove the paper roll and ink ribbon.
- Dip one end of a cotton swab in solvent and apply along the printing elements from end to end (the printing elements are located on the brown strip just behind the chrome strip of the print head). Allow a few seconds for the solvent to evaporate.
- Rotate the roller and clean thoroughly with solvent.
- Brush away any accumulated debris and paper dust from the rollers.
- Reinstall the ribbon and printing materials, then close the print head.