Poor imaging in thermal printers can hinder label printing production. Companies expect their barcode thermal printer to produce the best image every day. Barcode Southwest presents six common imaging problems and their simple solutions.
Poor Imaging in Thermal Printers: Issues and Solutions
There are many reasons why you are experiencing poor imaging in thermal printers. Let’s start with the six easiest solutions for poor imaging in thermal printers.
Issue #1: Faint or Missing Image
The first and most common issue with poor imaging in thermal printers is faint or missing images. Typically, these issues are the result of a dirty platen roller and/or printhead. There is constant contact with the media and/or ribbon. As a result, the platen roller and printhead produce a buildup from dust, chemicals and adhesives.
Companies in the Gulf Coast regions often experience high humidity and windy conditions in extra dusty environments. Fortunately, these are the easiest problems to fix.
Solution: Use 99% Isopropyl Alcohol and Cotton Swab for the Printhead
Getting the best imaging from your thermal printer requires a regular cleaning. Use a soft cloth with the same alcohol on the platen roller. Therefore, proper maintenance will help prevent faint or missing images.
Issue #2: Printer Speed
A second poor imaging solution involves the correct printer speed. All printer manufacturers (available within specifications) show the maximum speed of each printer. Finally, only you can determine the correct speed for your specific label printing application.
Solution: Find the Best Printer Speed to Suit Your Company’s Needs
Printer speed relates directly to imaging quality. Because each company’s environment is different, you need to find the best speed for a quality image. Also, the type of media dictates the best speed.
Issue #3: Faint or Bloated Image
Faint or bloated image is the third common problem when it comes to poor imaging. This may be a result of an incorrect temperature setting on the printhead.
Solution: Adjust the “BURN” Temperature Within the Settings
Depending on the media and if you’re using a thermal ribbon, increase or decrease the “BURN” temperature within the settings.
Issue #4: Poor Quality Media and/or Ribbon
The fourth problem begins with the quality of raw materials.
To begin with, “cheap” materials not only produce poor imaging, but may also reduce the life your thermal label printer. Additionally, poor imaging can be the result of improper storage. Finally, extreme heat and humidity (as well as the age of the material) can reduce the lifespan of labels and ribbon.
As a final comment, please note, most material manufacturers warrant their label material for one year under normal storage conditions.
Solution: Proper Storage of Labels and Ribbons
This solution is two-fold:
- First, to achieve the best imaging, quality labels and ribbons are required.
- A second factor is properly storing your labels. This will ensure you receive the best imaging performance on a daily basis.
Issue #5: Thermal Ribbon and Media Problems
A fifth issue involves the ribbons used. Thermal ribbon along with media problems can cause poor imaging or even scuffing. There can be several potential problems with your thermal ribbon, which include the following two issues:
- Ribbon and media don’t pair well. 🙂
- Ribbon not loaded correctly.
Solution: Proper Pairing and Classification
To begin with, please note each thermal printer application requires the matching of thermal label and ribbon. Therefore, make sure the media and ribbons are made for each other. However, you need to also make sure the thermal media and ribbon are of proper classification to be together.
A second solution is attention to ribbon classification. When purchasing ribbons from Barcode Southwest, you will notice they are classified as either CIS or COS. This means the ink is either coated inside or outside of the roll. Finally, always make sure the ink faces downward while feeding through the printing path or under the printhead.
Issue #6: Printhead Pixels Worn Out
The sixth and final issue involves worn out pixels. The term “burn” is just that. Pixels on the thermal printhead are similar to light bulbs. Pixels turn on and off when heat is needed to burn an image onto the media. This is the same for both Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer labels.
Solution: Clean the Printhead
If cleaning the printhead doesn’t solve this problem, a service call may be in order. Finally, call Barcode Southwest at 1(888) 764-9965 to determine if you need a new printerhead.
What is the Lifespan of a Thermal Printer?
The lifespan of a thermal printer can depend on the following four factors:
- First: volume of labels you print
- Second: proper maintenance
- Third: power surges
- Fourth: age of the printer
As much as we would like, thermal printers are not built like John Deere tractors. Thermal printers consist of plastic gears, rubber belts and electronic parts. However, wear and tear on these parts is normal and can cause expensive downtime and repairs. As the saying goes, “Nothing Runs Like A Deere” 🚜.
Call Barcode Southwest at 1-888-764-9965 to discuss troubleshooting your printer problems. Or complete our contact form!
Barcode Southwest is a premier supplier of barcode printers and labels for a wide range of industry applications. We supply to clients all over the Southwest region of the U.S., including, but not limited to, Houston, TX, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.
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Posted April 01, 2019 By Lucy