Things To Consider When Choosing A Thermal Label Printer

One would not expect to have to put much thought into buying something as seemingly simple as a label printer. Surely you’d just pick a make, choose a model, plug it in and hey presto, you’re printing labels. Unfortunately it’s not quite as easy as that, and in order to print successfully you need to know exactly what it is that you’re after – which is why we’re here to help. There are certain questions you need to answer in order to head down the right path to efficient label printing.

What type of labels do you want to print?

  • Direct Thermallabels use the heat from the print head on thermally sensitive paper to form letters and/or barcodes. Direct thermal labels are used for short term labelling in warehousing and logistics as they  fade over time with exposure to sunlight – they will last up to 12 months depending on the exposure and general conditions in which they are kept.
  • Thermal transfer labels use an impregnated ribbon to thermally transfer the image from the ribbon to the label. This type of label is much more robust and long term, and does not fade in sunlight. There are various choices regarding the type of ribbon and label material you use, depending on your application.

The width of the label should also be considered. Most thermal label printers will print a maximum width of 4 inches, although there are printers available that will print the widths of  2, 6 or 8 inches. In terms of cost, if you want a label that is over 100mm wide it would be better to print down the label, turning the image through 90 degrees in the label design software.

Thermal Label Printers are available in both Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer modes. So, now having decided what type of labels you will need, the next step is deciding how many labels you will need to print on average per month.

How many labels will you be printing?

  • If you are printing up to 500 labels per month we would recommend the CL-S300 or CL-S321.
  • If you are printing over 1,000 labels per month the Citizen CL-S521, CL-S621, CL-S631 should be considered.
  • If you are printing over 30,000 labels per month then you should go for the Citizen CL-S700 series.

What resolution will you be printing at?

  • The print resolution can be a consideration depending on the size of the letters and barcodes you’ll be printing. General purpose labelling can use the standard 203dpi resolution, whereas smaller letters and barcodes may need 300dpi,  or in some cases even 600dpi, although this is generally used for complex company logos and barcodes and specialist applications.
  • The difference in cost between 203dpi and 300dpi is nominal and well worth considering in order to give that extra clarity for scanning barcodes.
  • Connectivity is important as some label printers only have a USB, interface whilst others have USB, Serial, Parallel and LAN interfaces as a standard.

So, having decided on which type of label you need, as well as how many labels you will be printing per day, you can now decide on the best label printer for your application. Expert advice on a range of label printers, ribbon types and label materials is available by contacting us on 01491 875708 or by email at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *