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When it comes to label printers, colour is seen as the final frontier. That’s because the most commonly sold label printers are thermal printers, and thermal printers are monochrome due to the method by which they print.
Thermal printers use chemically treated paper which reacts to high heat that is applied with great precision to specific areas of the paper. While different colours are possible, only one colour can be produced at a time.
What you may not know is that there are special inkjet label printers that can produce millions of colours. Of course these are more expensive to operate than thermal printers, but if colour is an important aspect of your label printing, you will want one of these printers.
These printers are not cheap, but they make up for that with outstanding results. First where the majority of thermal printers are normally in the range of 300 to 600 dpi, colour inkjet label printers can produce full colour images in the range of 1200 to 1600 dpi, or even beyond.
The printers can also be used with a larger range of labels, so you can get the look you want. There are glossy, semi-gloss, and matte finish labels available.
Even though colour printers are indeed very good options when you’d like to have colour prints, it is also important to understand that inkjet colour label printers do have some negative points in comparison to thermal printers.
First, they’re not as environmentally friendly. Inkjet printers use ink that is made with a lot of chemicals and the inks have to be stored in plastic cartridges that contain copper contact points and semiconductor chips made with various toxic elements and compounds.
Of course they are safe to handle, store, and use. But once these cartridges are disposed of, they can be a burden to the environment, and their manufacture is also a burden to the environment. Fortunately there are cartridge recycling programs in place to help reduce the impact of this problem.
Another issue is that the inks can be messy, and the print head can possibly become clogged if it subject to heavy duty use for a long time.
Finally there is the extra expense. Even the cheapest inkjet printer will cost more over time than a thermal printer.
If you do need to print colour labels sometimes, but also print monochrome labels, it will actually be best for you to have both types of printers. Use the inkjet printer only when colour is required, and enjoy the cost saving benefits of thermal printing at all other times.
Apart from dedicated colour inkjet label printers, you can also buy sheets of labels that can be placed into the paper feed tray of an ordinary injket or laser printer. If you are doing this, make sure you get the correct type, because the paper used for inkjet labels is different from the paper used for laser printer labels.
Dedicated label printers are less difficult to use than standard printers because the dedicated printers don’t rely on sheet feeding and feed the labels from a continuous roll.
Configuring your software and documents to properly work with the labels when using a standard printer is also more difficult, whereas with a dedicated label printer it is very easy.