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The Common Sense Case: Why Thermal Trumps Laser for Label Printing

Posted July 6, 2012

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished,” said Benjamin Franklin, a printer and purveyor of common sense. This paper, makes the common-sense case for using thermal printers in label applications. In fact, the advantages of thermal over laser are so compelling that the only reason to continue using laser printers for labeling must be habit. Before enumerating the advantages of thermal printing technology over laser, it will be useful to consider the use of laser printers for labeling.

Laser Printing Labeling: History and Concerns

Laser printers have long been used in label printing applications, chiefly because a base of laser printers are usually already installed—primarily for forms, letters, and other narrative communications and documentation. Their multi-function capability made it relatively easy to adopt the laser printer hardware for printing labels. Since adoption was easy, a thorough examination of the technology’s appropriateness was rarely undertaken. Parameters such as operating costs, total cost of ownership, materials and energy usage, ergonomics, and other relevant factors were simply not considered in the label printing context.

After laser label printing applications became the de facto standard, users began to see the shortcomings of using laser printers for this function. While many are now demanding better label printing solutions, they are challenged by inertia in the form of a huge installed base of laser printers.

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