Thermal Printing vs Inkjet Printing

June 18th, 2014

Is there a better solution for your label needs?

Today’s post is by Shelly Hayre; Project Manager at SafeSourcing.

Recent Institute of Medicine report entitled “Preventing Medication Errors” cites that medication errors harm 1.5 million people and kill several thousand each year in the United States, costing the nation at least $3.5 billion annually. Because of such wide-spread drug errors, hospitals have made the implementation of automated bedside administration systems a top priority. Within a majority of the bedside automation system is a thermal barcode printer.

Thermal label printers are ideal for bar code printing because they provide an accurate, high quality image. Thermal printers are engineered to print within tight tolerances. There are two types of thermal label printers; direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing.

Direct thermal printing uses chemically treated heat-sensitive media that blackens when it passes under the thermal printhead. Direct thermal printers have no ink, toner, or ribbon. Because there is no ribbon, direct thermal printers cost less to operate than inkjet, laser, impact, and thermal transfer printers.

Thermal transfer printing, a thermal printhead applies heat to a ribbon, which melts ink onto the material to form the image. The ink is absorbed so that the image becomes part of the media. This technique provides image quality and durability that is unmatched by other on-demand printing technologies. Thermal transfer printers can accept a wider variety of media than direct thermal models, including paper, polyester, and polypropylene materials. Thermal transfer printers can create extremely durable wristbands, asset tags, and certification labels, in addition to common labels, tags, and tickets.

So, what is the cost difference between laser and thermal labels?

Overall, the average list price for a thousand laser labels is $40.00 and $30.00 for thermal labels. Laser printers have an additional $10-15 per thousand labels in toner costs. However, the thermal label printers cannot provide the multiple functions that your laser printer may be providing.

Do you currently purchase labels for your laser printer and want to look into another solution, such as thermal labels? Let SafeSourcing help analyze your current spend, the capital investment, and future savings for switching equipment and products.

For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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