FAQS

Looking for important information? Take a look at our frequently asked questions.

There are two thermal printing methods commonly used to print bar codes: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Each method uses a thermal print head that applies heat to the surface being marked.

Thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to produce durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials. No ribbon is used in direct thermal transfer printing, which creates the image directly on the label material. Thermal transfer printers can accept a wider variety of materials and are usually used for permanent or long lasting labelling application.

Direct thermal printers are usually used to produce shipping labels, picking/put away labels, receipts, and other common print jobs.

The following sections will help you understand the differences between the technologies and how to select the appropriate print method for your application. 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.

Their simple design makes thermal printers durable and easy to use. Because there is no ribbon, direct thermal printers cost less to operate than inkjet, laser, impact, and thermal transfer printers. Most mobile printers use direct thermal technology. Thermal media images may fade over time. If the label is overexposed to heat, light, or other catalysts, the material will darken and make the text or bar code unreadable. For these reasons, direct thermal printing is not used for lifetime identification applications. The readability of direct thermal labels, wristbands, and receipt papers varies greatly, depending on the usage conditions, but the technology provides ample lifespan for many common bar code printing applications including shipping labels, patient and visitor identification, receipts, and ticket printing.

For example, direct thermal labels can easily remain scannable after spending six months in storage in a distribution centre, and direct thermal patient wristbands have a special coating that makes them water- and chemical-resistant. Common thermal printing applications include: shipping labels, including compliance labels; receipts; pick tickets; coupons; event tickets; citations and parking tickets; name tags; visitor passes; and more.

In 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. The specific label material and ribbon must be carefully matched to ensure print performance and durability.

By selecting the right media-ribbon combination, as well as specialty adhesives, users can create archival-quality labels to withstand temperature extremes, ultraviolet exposure, chemicals, sterilization, and more. Typical thermal transfer applications include: product identification; circuit board tracking; permanent identification; sample and file tracking; asset tagging; inventory identification; certification labels such as UL/CSA; laboratory specimens; cold storage and freezers; and outdoor applications.

Yes. All Thermal Transfer label printers can operate either with or without a ribbon to achieve both direct and thermal transfer modes of operation.

Yes. The G-Series printers have both EPL and ZPL command language resident. You can swap older model Eltron desktop printers or add to existing applications.

The GX printer offers faster print speeds, an increased on-board memory, movable label sensor, plus wireless interface options.

No. The internal 10/100 Zebra Net print server is not a field upgradeable options.

Thermal bar code label printers support multiple symbology. Check your printer specifications for a list of symbology’s that are supported.

Barcode printers are available with many common interfaces to enable simple interfaces with a variety of host computer stems. Ethernet, USB, parallel, serial, twinax, and coax cables are available. Bar code printers also offer 802.11b and Bluetooth connectivity for wireless integration.

First, find out which of your facilities and production or packaging lines will be impacted in order to determine the required label volume and the number of printers that will be needed. Determine how the printers will receive the variable information they need from your enterprise system to produce the labels. This step will show the connectivity and networking support required in the printer. Review the compliance specifications to understand the required label sizes, fonts, bar code symbology, and graphics so you can choose an appropriate printer. Software is also required to design packages include templates for compliance label formats commonly used in the retail, automotive , aerospace, defence, distribution, and other industries. Make sure the software supports the types of labels you need and the specific model of printer you have chosen. Test the entire system and send label samples to your trading partner for analysis prior to your deadline date for compliance labelling. Many systems integration companies are very experienced with compliance labelling systems and are available to assist with any phase of the project. Zebra’s white paper “Quality Assurance Steps for Preventing Label Printing Problems” explains how to meet print quality requirements for compliance labelling.

Narrow the field significantly by determining the size of labels that need to be printed. Analyse the conditions the label will be exposed to and its required life span to determine the print method (direct thermal or thermal transfer) and required media support. Printers also differ significantly in the interfaces and network connectivity that they offer. The symbology’s, graphics, and international characters supported are other important differentiators. Durability and printing volume are also important. For most applications, 203 dots-per-inch (dpi) resolution provides sufficient print quality. However, when higher quality printing is required, such as for very small labels or some 2-D symbology’s, 300 or 600 dpi printers should be used.

Besides a wide variety of label materials, bar code printers can also print on tag and ticket stock, wristbands, polyester, polypropylene, and other synthetic materials. Different colours are available, but colour should be used cautiously because insufficient contrast between bars and the background space will produce unreadable bar codes. Brand protection media is available with overt and covert security features for authentication, counterfeit and diversion deterrence, and secure data encoding. Label media, coatings, and adhesives provide resistance to temperature extremes, moisture, acids washes, UV exposure, and other hazards to label quality. Thermal printers can also print and encode smart labels, which contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip and antenna inlay embedded within the label media.

Bluetooth is a global standard for a small radio module that is plugged into computers, printers, mobile phones, and other devices. A Bluetooth radio is designed to replace cables by taking the information normally carried by the cable and transmitting it over radio frequency in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequencies to a receiver Bluetooth radio chip.

The Bluetooth specification supports authentication and encryption. For the authentication algorithm, the size of the key used is always 128 bits. For the encryption algorithm, the key size may vary between 1 and 16 octets (8-128 bits).

A reader (now more typically referred to as an RFID interrogator) is basically a radio frequency (RF) transmitter and receiver, controlled by a microprocessor or digital signal processor. The reader, using an attached antenna, captures data from tags, then passes the data to a computer for processing. As with tags, readers come in a wide range of sizes and offer different features. Readers can be affixed in a stationary position (for example, besides a conveyor belt in a factory or dock doors in a warehouse), portable (integrated into a mobile computer that also might be used for scanning bar codes), or even embedded in electronic equipment such as print-on-demand label printers.

Passive smart label RFID systems offer unique capabilities as an automatic data capture system in that they;

  • Provide real-time, wireless transmission of data without human intervention.
  • Do not require line-of-site scanners for operation
  • Allow stored data to be altered during sorting or allow workflow process information to be captured with the data
  • Work effectively even in harsh environments with excessive dirt, dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures.

Information is sent to and read from RFID tags by a reader using radio waves. In passive systems, which are the most common, an RFID reader transmits an energy field that “wakes up” the tag and provides the power for the tag to respond to the reader. In active systems a battery in the tag is used to boost the effective operating range of the tag and to support additional features over passive tags, such as temperature sensing. Data collected from tags is then passed through communication interfaces (cable or wireless) to host computer systems in the same manner that data scanned from bar code labels is captured and passed to computer systems for interpretation, storage, and action.

Thermal label printers are ideal for bar code printing because the produce accurate, high quality images with excellent edge definition. Thermal printers are engineered to print within tight tolerances and to produce the exact bar widths that successful bar code printing and scanning require. Each technology can produce one-and two dimensional bar code symbologies, graphics and text at the same print resolution and speeds.

The following sections will help you understand the differences between the technologies and how to select the appropriate print method for your application. Direct thermal printing uses chemically treated, heat sensitive media that blackens when it passes under the thermal print head.

Direct thermal printers have no ink, toner, or ribbon. Their simple design makes thermal printers durable and easy to use. Because there is no ribbon, direct thermal printers cost less to operate than inkjet, laser, impact, and thermal transfer printers. Most mobile printers use direct thermal technology. Thermal media images may fade over time. If the label is overexposed to heat, light, or other catalysts, the material of direct thermal labels, wristbands, and receipt varies greatly, depending on the usage conditions, but the technology provides ample lifespan for many common bar code printing applications including shipping labels, patients and visitor identification, receipts, and ticket printing. For example, direct thermal labels can easily remain scannable after spending six months in storage in a distribution centre, and direct thermal patient wristbands have a special coating that makes them water- and chemical resistant. Common thermal printing applications include; shipping labels, including compliance labels; receipts; pick tickets; coupons; event tickets; citations and parking tickets; name tags; visitor passes; and more.

In thermal transfer printing, a thermal print head 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 if the media. This technique provided 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. The specific label material and ribbon must be carefully matched to ensure print performance and durability. By selecting the right media-ribbon combination, as well as speciality adhesives, users can create archival-quality labels to withstand temperature extremes, ultra violet exposure, chemicals, sterilization, and more. Typical thermal transfer applications include: product identification; circuit board tracking; permanent identification; sample and file tracking; asset tagging; inventory identification; certification labels such as UL/CSA; laboratory specimens; cold storage and freezers; and outdoor applications.

If your printer is set up for direct thermal, place a label on a flat surface. Use a coin or your fingernail and scratch the label applying some pressure. If you scratch mark is a light grey colour then you have thermal transfer labels that require a ribbon. If the scratch leaves a dark black mark then these are direct thermal. Please contact technical support trouble shooting purposes.

The life of the print head will depend on the actual usage of the printer. Datamax O’Neil warranties all Datamax-O’neil print heads for one year or one million inches limited warranty for any manufacture’s defect. Factors such as humidity, dust, heat, moisture, and inappropriate usage (incorrect cleaning and abuse) will shorten the life of the print head. Datamax-O’Neil advises regular cleaning of the print head (outlined in the operators manual) be sure to follow proper use and handling to extend the life of your print head.

When using direct thermal labels you should clean the print head after every roll of labels. When using thermal transfer with ribbon then clean the print head when you install a new roll of ribbon. If the printer is in a dirty environment then we recommend cleaning the print head on a daily basis.

Datamax-O’Neil recommends that your ribbon be 1/8th of an inch to no more than 1/4th of an inch wider than your label. Any size over this can cause ribbon wrinkle. However, there are some adjustments that might resolve your issue. Please contact Datamax-O’Neil Technical support for these procedures and adjustments.

If you are using thermal transfer labels with ribbon then make sure you have the correct combination. Certain label/ribbon combinations are not compatible. If you do have the correct combination then increasing the heat setting in your software should resolve your issue.

Check the way the ribbon is being routed. If the ribbon is loaded incorrectly, the label sensor eye will be covered and cannot read the label correctly.

Yes, Bartender can be used with any printer that has a true windows printer driver, including, for example, most laser and ink jet printers.