Thermal Label Printing

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Peacock Bros is the leading supplier, installer and service provider for thermal label printers in Australia and New Zealand. With expertise in portable, desktop and industrial thermal printing applications, Peacock Bros specializes in connecting organizations with the right solutions for their barcode printing operations. We are an authorized service provider for some of the leading print brands, including Zebra Technologies and Honeywell.

What Is thermal printing?

Thermal printers are different from inkjet printers, which spray thousands of tiny droplets of ink from the printer head. There are two primary categories of thermal print technology:

  • Direct thermal printers: This approach uses specialized heat-sensitive paper, which blackens when it passes under the thermal printhead. It needs no ink, toner, or ribbon and is great for producing cost efficient shipping labels, compliance labels, receipts, event tickets, visitor passes and more. Not for life-time identification applications, direct thermal labels tend to fade over time.

  • Thermal transfer printers: This type of printing accepts a wider variety of media than direct thermal models, including paper, polyester, and polypropylene. Solid ink in the form of ribbon is bonded to the media using heat. Long-lasting labels can be produced with this technology to withstand temperature extremes, ultraviolet exposure, chemicals, sterilization, and more.

Because they produce accurate, high-quality images with excellent edge definition, thermal label printers are perfect for barcode printing. For a more information on thermal printing, please see our article: Printing barcode labels: thermal transfer vs direct thermal.

What are thermal label printers?

Thermal transfer printers may be referred to as thermal label printers. In many applications, this approach to thermal printing offers significant advantages, including:

  • High-speed Printing: Leading thermal label printers allow real-time print data modification for complete quality control.

  • Image quality: The results of a thermal label printer are highly visible, clear and precise.

  • Versatile: Direct thermal labels are primarily used for freight labels and receipt rolls. In some applications, thermal transfer may be used for outdoor settings or durable applications.

  • Flexibility: Many industrial and desktop thermal label printers can be used on both thermal transfer and thermal direct paper labels, including gloss and vinyl.

  • Ease of use: With user-friendly interfaces, this print technology is easy to implement with the help of an expert service advisor and simple to manage via an application interface.

Common Applications of Thermal Label Printing

  • Barcode labels: Thermal printed labels can be attached to products and freight, providing visibility for logistics, transportation, inventory management, and visual communication in a warehouse setting.

  • Facility communications: Organizations operating in warehouse, outdoor or hybrid environments use thermal print applications to communicate inventory control on product and pallets.

Buying a thermal label printer: things to know

Thermal label print technology represents a significant investment for organizations and individuals. While inkjet-based technology cannot stand up to the durability or flexibility of thermal label printers, it's important to be prepared for the selection process. Factors that should inform your decision on the best solution for your needs include:

  • Maintenance: In general, thermal printers are more durable and require less maintenance than inkjets. However, having a plan for ongoing service of your new label printer is crucial. Peacock Bros is an authorised service provider for Zebra and Intermec printers so you can be assured of premium after-sales support, maintenance and repair. For peace of mind and some terrific cost savings, ask about our Printer Service Plans that can include on-site care of your equipment using only manufacturer-approved parts.

  • Cost: Pricing ranges significantly depending on whether the purchase is a mobile, desktop or industrial-grade thermal label printer.

  • Applications: The right type of thermal print technology for your organization can vary considerably depending on intended use. For example, thermal transfer printing requires the specific label material and ribbon to be carefully matched to ensure print performance and durability.

Selecting the best thermal label printer

When you need to print barcode and asset labels, thermal printing technology is generally the only solution that is fit for purpose. Inkjet can't produce with cost-effectiveness the same results on a variety of surfaces or ensure that heavily used items will retain a clear image over time.

Since 1888, Peacock Bros has been a trusted resource for printing in Australia and New Zealand. Our thermal label printing experts bring decades of experience in helping organizations and individuals select the right thermal printers, labels and ribbons for their needs. We can custom design software for all major ERP systems or supply you with one of our Windows-based label design packages such as Nicelabel or BarTender.

Click here to view our current catalogue of thermal label printers.

To initiate a conversation with an on-staff expert, click here.


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AstralPool Makes a Big Splash with an Automated Labelling Solution from Peacock Bros. and Intermec by Honeywell.