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Most common mistakes when choosing a label printer

We’ve seen a lot of businesses pick a lot of label printers. Many get it right, but some get it wrong. The impact of getting it wrong is the increased cost and time of having to replace a printer more frequently. Here’s the three mistakes we come across most frequently:

  1. Not picking the right printer for the volume of labels/print speed
    Label printers come in three main formats/sizes, with each type designed for a different daily volume of labels:
    • Portable printers, designed for use on the move, on the shop floor or out with the public, can handle up to 1000 labels a day. Labels are usually printed one at a time, with speed not a major factor.
    • Desktop printers are designed to print between 500 and 1000 labels a day, in an office environment. They all use Flathead print heads, so have lower speeds.
    • Industrial printers can handle from 2000 labels a day and are much more resilient to an environment with dust, dirt and vibration. With an industrial printer, you have the choice between a Flathead or a Near Edge print head, with Near Edge offering faster printing speeds.

    The impact of getting the wrong printer for the number of labels you’ll be printing each day is that you can significantly shorten the life of the motor. We’ve seen businesses that think they will save on the cost of an industrial printer by running 1500 labels a day through their desktop. But it’s a false economy as the motor in the overworked desktop printer is likely to die well before its normal life expectancy.

    The better approach for volumes over 1000 would be to buy an industrial printer or two desktop printers.

    For those who get it right, we’ve seen printers last well over 10 years, with just a change of print head when needed and a motor that keeps running strong.

    Getting the speed equation wrong can have a big impact on the processes that rely on label production, extending the printing window and every process downstream of it.

  2. Purchasing the wrong printer for the operating environment

    The environment in which a printer operates has an impact on its performance and life expectancy. Desktop printers are built to operate in an office environment - clean, air-conditioned, and with low noise and vibration.

    Industrial printers, on the other hand, can cope with the dust, dirt and vibrations of machinery or vehicles. They have a tougher casing and will operate as happily as anything in a factory, warehouse, temporary site office or on a ship or truck.

    Put a desktop printer in those conditions and, again it’s a false economy leading to a shorter life because it simply isn’t built to withstand them.

  3. Not having the right print head warranty

    The only hardware part that needs regular replacement in a label printer is the print head. (We cover ribbons in the other eBook in this series, ‘The five most common mistakes when choosing a printer ribbon’).

    Print head usage is directly related to the volume of labels printed, measured in kilometres. The warranty offered is a good indication of the quality and expected life of your print head. A good desktop printer will offer a 30km warranty and a good industrial printer 50-100km.

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