Labeling is not a difficult thing to do. But it can become a tedious job and time-consuming when a huge amount of items is involved. Labels help organize and track inventory, whether raw materials, work in process, or finished goods. This is where label makers come in handy. They can be purchased in the form of a regular label printer or a handheld label maker.
Retail businesses will have various types of merchandise in their inventory. Accurate labeling helps them organize merchandise in storage, display shelves, or even monthly sales projections. It is also important in manufacturing industries due to the huge amount and types of inventory involved that require organization and tracking before and after the manufacturing process. When it comes to label printing, a label printer will help get the job done faster and easier. With a huge amount and variety of inventory that requires different types and sizes of labels, writing labels by hand are surely time-consuming and too much hassle.
A great choice for a label printer is a thermal label printer. It is using thermal technology, no need for an ink cartridge. Some label printers can print on polyester, nylon, and plastic labels. This type of printers would be a great asset for businesses where labeling is needed to organize and track inventory. It is also a money saver using a thermal label printer since there is no need to buy cartridges anymore.
Therefore, to do our part to help out, we’ve compiled a list of 7 of the Best Thermal Label Printers on the market today and will go through some of their features to help you decide which one is right for you and your organization.
To sweeten the pot even further, we’ve included a helpful buyer’s guide section below, where we’ll inform you of some general things that it pays to keep in mind as you’re shopping for a best thermal label printer. Our goal is to arm you with the knowledge you need to navigate the great number of options out there and make the smartest selection, the one best in line with your needs.
Best Thermal label printers of 2020
Best Universal Label Printer
|Rollo Label Printer||
Best Printer for Large Labels
|DYMO Label Writer 4XL||
Best Cheap Label Printer
|DYMO Label Writer 450 Turbo||
Best for Reciepts
|Epson ReadyPrint T20||
High Resolution and cheap
|Zebra - GK420d||
Best for Small Labels
|Seiko Smart 620||
1. Rollo Label Printer – Best Universal Label Printer
The Rollo Label Printer is a direct thermal printer that can print labels reliably and quickly at a speed of about 150 millimeters per second. Though this is a direct thermal printer, its labels are still reliably made enough to be readable and scannable. It can take in either rolls or stacks of 4-inch x 6-inch label paper, giving some added convenience. However, if you plan to feed the printer rolls of labels, those labels must have perforations between them.
Because it is a direct thermal printer, it is primarily suited for creating shipping labels. To this end, it is compatible with an extraordinarily wide range of shipping platforms, including Endicia Dazzle, ShipStation, ShippingEasy, Shippo, ShipWorks, Ordoro; marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Easy, and Shopify; and couriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
It prints mainly 4-inch x 6-inch shipping labels, though it can print labels up to 4.1 inches wide.
If you are looking to quickly print shipping labels, this printer is an excellent and affordable choice. We recommend it for that purpose. If you want labels that will last, however, go for something else.
2. DYMO LabelWriter 4XL Label Printer – Best Printer For Large Labels
The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL Label Printer can print large shipping labels up to 4 inches x 6 inches in size, and its software allows you to select from more than 60 different label templates. It can print shipping labels, and stamps from entities like DYMO Stamps, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and its DYMO stamps are all USPS-approved.
You load the printer with rolls that contain 1050 labels per roll, and it can create labels at an impressive maximum speed of 129 labels per minute, depending on the kind of label you choose to print. 4-inch x 6-inch shipping labels take about 3 seconds each to print, though.
It is compatible with software like Quickbooks and Microsoft Office, though it cannot print UPS-approved labels and only supports label paper from DYMO.
We recommend this printer if you need to print large quantities of shipping labels quickly. Do not buy it if you ship with UPS, though.
3. DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Label Printer – Best Cheap Label Printer
This label printer is an excellent choice for small businesses for whom every dollar counts. The printer is inexpensive, small, and quite the little dynamo when it comes to printing labels. It can print up to 71 labels per minute if the labels are small and average about 51 labels per minute.
The DYMO LabelWriter 450 can label in 18 different shapes and sizes, depending on the template you select. Most of the labels capable of making are quite small, with 2-1/4 inches being their maximum allowable width. This is sufficient for most postage and shipping labels, though, and since this is a direct thermal printer, those are the kind of labels that it is best suited to making anyway.
The only major downside to the DYMO LabelWriter 450 is that it does not feature WIFi connectivity, so you will have to connect it to your Windows or Mac computer with a USB cable.
If you need a cheap, effective and easy-to use printer to create small shipping labels and barcodes, this is a great choice and we recommend it. It isn’t suitable for large jobs, though.
4. Epson ReadyPrint T20 Label Printer – Best Receipt Printer
Since the Epson ReadyPrint T20 column for accepting papers is about 3.15 inches long and about 2.28 inches wide, that makes it just right for printing out receipts; if you run a retail store or any business that sells products to customers, this is an excellent printer to check out.
It’s a direct thermal printer, meaning that though it is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain, the labels or receipts that your print with it will not necessarily be or superb or long-lasting quality. However, if you intend to use it for printing receipts, this will not be necessary, and the printer can still be a very cost-effective way to meet your needs.
It can print up 200 millimeters per second, which is great if time is of the essence. It’s got a character set of 95 alphanumerics and 18 international characters, which all come in various font sizes.
Epson T20 offers a range of drivers compatible with various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. Windows driver supports 24 languages.
The printer’s head life is 100 kilometers, auto-cutter life is 1.5 million cuts. Such efficiency and reliability result from a long and distinguished history in the Epson TM series ecology and conservation.
Efficient energy use
ReadyPrint T20 qualifies for the ENERGY STAR rating. The standby power consumption is among the lowest in the industry at less than one watt. Since a receipt printer’s electricity can mostly be accounted for by time spent in standby, this low value reduces the printer’s overall power consumption significantly.
We recommend this if you need to print receipts in large quantities, this is an excellent choice. If your label printing needs are more varied, look to a different printer.
5. Brother QL-700 Label Printer – Best Cheap High-Resolution Printer
This small, inexpensive, and very efficient desktop-size printer prints shipping labels of various sizes and lengths, barcodes, and postage stamps with ease. Depending on the type of labels you intend to print, it can churn out to an impressive 93 labels per minute, so this unit is great for business owners operating under a hectic schedule. The unit works with rolls of label paper about 2.4 inches wide and that you drop into it. It also has an auto-cutter that cleanly separates your labels for you.
Though it is a direct thermal printer, it’s got an impressive high-resolution capability, producing labels up to 300 x 600 DPI. This is more than sufficient for all shipping labels and bar codes and is even enough to give your label some overall longevity.
The only real drawbacks to this printer are that if you need it to print stamps, you must connect it to your computer with a USB cable. Though it can be connected to a WiFi network, it will not print stamps in that state. Though it can be configured to print long labels and signs (up to 3 feet long, in fact), the width of the labels it can print is quite limited.
As long as you don’t need to print especially wide labels, we wholeheartedly recommend this unit. It is cheap, efficient and highly versatile.
6. Zebra – GK420d Label Printer – Powerful Label Printer
The Zebra GK420d is a powerful printer that features USB, Ethernet, and WiFi connectivity. It can print about 127 millimeters, or 5 inches, of label per second and does so at a resolution of 203 DPI, which is sufficient for all shipping labels and barcodes. The resolution quality is not absolutely top-notch, but it’s more than enough for most purposes.
It’s fast and energy-efficient, making it ideal for shipping warehouses, retail stores, and other places requiring large quantities of receipts or shipping labels. It can print labels up to 4.09 inches wide. The only significant downside is that this printer is substantially more expensive than the ones we have considered here.
The Zebra GK420d has a built-in diagnostic system that monitors the printhead’s temperature and prevents it from overheating, informing the technician if the temperature exceeds the allowable limits. The recommended label rate on the Zebra GK420d is up to 4,000 labels per day.
You will have to shell out more cash for this printer than most of its kind, though it is very efficient. Only buy if you have the money to spend. Cheaper alternatives are available.
7. Seiko Instruments Smart Label Printer 620 – Best Wristband or Small Label Printer
This makes it ideal for printing wristband labels or other tiny labels, like address, name tag, and file folder labels. It’s got an astonishingly fast maximum printing speed of 165.4 inches per minute, can print a wide range of different barcodes, and has a 203 DPI resolution.
It is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, though it can only connect to them via a USB cable.
If you need a cheap printer that can quickly give you lots of small labels, we highly recommend this unit.
Though we’ve now discussed several excellent thermal label printers and given you a taste of what they can do, we recognize that each person and organization’s needs are different. Since you are ultimately the best judge of your own needs and requirements, we thought we’d give you some important general information and answer some common questions about thermal label printers to make you better able to match your set of needs with the right product. With this, you can only be a smarter shopper.
With that said, here are some useful things that you should know as you shop around and that you’d do well to make a note of before deciding which printer to buy.
What distinguishes thermal label printers from other kinds of label printers?
Throughout this guide, we’ve repeatedly been referring to thermal label printers instead of label printers in general. But how is a thermal label printer different from any old label printer? And more importantly, why should you care about these differences? Clearly, these are foundational questions to which you need answers before you can so much as start to pick out the right printer for you.
For one thing, thermal label printers differ from other printers by their special printheads and what those printheads do. The printhead of a thermal label printer spans the width of the material that it is meant to take in and consists of many heated pins – each representing a pixel – that use wax or resin-based ink to print your desired label onto your chosen surface. This way of making labels is exact and ensures that the ink on labels made by a thermal printer won’t smear or fade like ordinary ink does, which is especially important if you intend to produce shipping labels or barcodes, where precision, readability, scalability, and durability are all of the essences.
In addition to this, thermal label printers are much more versatile than other kinds of printers. They can print onto a wide range of materials, including paper, tape (whether made of polyester, vinyl, or nylon), heat shrink tubing, or other materials. You can also use them to make labels of different sizes.
Different Types of Thermal Label Printers
Thermal label printers can be divided into a couple of different types, each with their respective strengths and weakness. Here they are:
These are the most commonly used type of thermal label printers by retail stores and small businesses. They are small, easy to store, and can take low to moderate label printing work. They are perfect for offices and most small companies and can be relied on to make, at most, a few hundred labels per day.
Only use industrial thermal label printers if you have heavy and serious label-printing needs to take care of quickly. These printers are generally large and expensive but can easily generate thousands of labels per day. They are also the label printer type of choice for those companies that need to print especially large labels.
This label printer is tiny and extremely convenient to use, as there are no associated wires or cable to deal with. Still, their tiny size makes them only good for printing tiny labels – generally just 2, 3, or 4 inches in size at the very most. The ability to wirelessly connect them to computers, however, is quite useful.
A standard desktop can print wristbands just as well, but if you happen to require wristbands in especially high quantities, it may be wise to get a device that is specially designed for this explicit purpose. Wristband printers are, after all, generally cheaper even than standard desktop label printers.
These printers are intended specifically to print tickets, so if you run a theme park, theater, or any other place that requires admission tickets, give these a look. They are designed to print onto thicker paper, and they have taller cases meant to accommodated tall stacks of to-be-printed tickets.
Other Considerations to Bear in Mind When Choosing a Thermal Label Printer
Here are a few other things to remember as you’re on the lookout for the right thermal label printer for you:
Possibly the single most important question that you can ask yourself before picking out a thermal label printer is: How many labels will I need to print per day? Different sorts of printers are meant to handle different sorts of workloads and generate different output levels. Assuming about 8 hours of operation per day, an industrial-strength printer can crank out anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 labels daily. Smaller printers in the desktop range can create anywhere between 500 and 1,000 labels.
How much office space do you have? If you’re working in small quarters, it’s recommended that you go with some desktop printer, as larger industrial-strength printers can be quite cumbersome.
How big are the labels that you seek to print? Desktop printers can easily handle creating labels that are about 4 inches wide or less. For larger labels, generally used for freight shipping, you will probably need to buy an industrial-strength printer. Remember, however, that maximum label sizes vary greatly between printers, and you may be able to find a desktop printer, or some other type of smaller printer, that can make larger-sized labels for you.
The resolution of labels made by thermal label printers is measured in DPI (dots per square inch). For barcodes (provided they are written in larger than 8-point font), 200 DPI resolution is sufficient. If you want professional quality or even aesthetic beauty on your labels, though, consider a higher-resolution printer with 300 or even 600 DPI.
Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer Methods
Another factor to consider in choosing the right thermal label printer is the printing method that the machine uses. There are two different printing methods: direct thermal and thermal transfer. A printer’s two methods will have important consequences for the type of material onto which the label can be printed and how long the label will last.
Direct thermal printers selectively heat thermal paper to produce an image, do not use ribbons, and are fairly simply constructed. Still, their labels are not meant to last for exceptionally long periods of time. Heat can also do great damage to the labels that these printers make. That does not mean that direct thermal printers should never be used; however, shipping labels only need to be readable until the shipment arrives where it is meant to go. In such cases, they are an economical option.
Thermal transfer printers use ribbons, making it feasible to use materials other than paper onto which to print your labels. This gives your labels high durability and general quality, and it means that the printer itself is versatile. However, remember that thermal transfer printers are generally more expensive than direct thermal printers.
Connecting Your Printer
The last major thing to think about is how you intend to connect your printer to your office’s computer or computers. There are two basic ways to do this: through a USB or Ethernet cable or via a WiFi network. Most thermal label printers made today allow for either option. If you only have one computer office, connected via a cable may be simplest, with USB being the most common. If your office set-up is more complex, with multiple computers likely to issue an elaborate sequence of commands to your printer, go for a WiFi network.
Bluetooth connectivity is also an option for some printers, particularly mobile ones – though this reduces the range of effectiveness to only about 33 feet.
That wraps up the information we seek to give you about thermal label printers. Through our reviews and our buyer’s guide above, we’ve striven to give you a sample of some of the different kinds of thermal label printers that you can choose from, as well as some crucial general information that you’ll need to be able to make the right decision to help your business or organization thrive. Though the final decision rests with you, we especially recommend taking a look at both the Rollo Label Printer and the DYMO LabelWriter 4XL Label Printer for their speed, efficiency, versatility, and low price.