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Preventive maintenance is important, you know you need to take care of your car to keep it running smoothly, so you follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Also, you can recognize that regular check-ups are vital to maintaining your health and catching potential issues before they become serious.

You should treat your barcode label printer with the same consideration. Following a preventive maintenance schedule reduces downtime and repair costs and extends the life of your printer. Dirt, dust, debris, and adhesive build up in your printer, damaging the printhead and compromising the quality of your barcode. The printhead is the most expensive and sensitive component in your thermal printer. Replacing it prematurely from lack of maintenance is an expense you can avoid.

Start Maintenance by Simply Cleaning Your Printer

cleaning-the-printer - Avalon Integration

Every time you change the label roll or thermal printer ribbon, clean the printhead. Use a cleaning card, cleaning pen, or cleaning roller to safely handle this task. You can also use 70% isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth or cotton swab, but be very careful you don’t apply too much or rub too hard. Turn off the printer and remove any jewelry that could scratch the printhead. Click here for instructions for cleaning your thermal printer.

Use Preventive Maintenance to Protect your investment

preventive maintenance - protect-your-investment - Avalon Integration

Routine maintenance should be periodically performed on your thermal printer—operation, settings, print quality, and more—by a certified technician. Just like your health check-up, this procedure assesses every aspect of your barcode printer. The technician identifies potential problems and makes adjustments to prevent equipment breakdown. During this procedure, the service technician might make recommendations for the way you use your printer, like the type of media or ribbon you’re using and printer settings that provide quality without straining the equipment.

A printer maintenance contract puts the responsibility of protecting your investment in the hands of your provider. The return on investment for proactive preventive maintenance is reflected in the extended life of your printer, reduced downtime and cost from preventable repairs, and a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Talk to us at Avalon Integration about your data collection and thermal printing needs—from hardware and software to supplies, service, and repair, we deliver end-to-end solutions for warehouse, manufacturing, and field operations.

Contact us today to learn more.

Barcodes look simple enough, and technology has made it easy to use this process for data collection. But with so many uses for barcodes today, you need to pay attention to the label media you choose. Some are designed for specific purposes, like cold storage or affixing to a curved surface. If you don’t choose the right barcode labels, you’ll risk losing the data that this process is intended to provide. That could mean anything from printer damage and downtime to a product recall.

Understand Barcode Labels Easily with “PRESS”

When assessing your options, we follow the acronym “PRESS” that is suggested by Zebra, one of the global leaders in barcode printers, labels, and supplies.

P = Printer: Choose a barcode label that matches the specifications of your thermal printer: print speed (inches per second or ips) and print resolution (dots per inch or dpi). Some labels are designed to print at faster or slower speeds, and won’t serve you well at a different print speed. If you’re using a high-resolution printer (e.g., 600 dpi), don’t expect a label designed for 300 dpi to produce the same clarity and definition.

Your thermal printer’s specs will also identify the material thickness and roll size, as a minimum and maximum output size.

R = Resistance: Will your barcode label have to withstand tough conditions, like exposure to chemicals or contact with other surfaces? Some label media is coated to protect the printed barcode from chemicals, light, and abrasives that could smudge or destroy the barcode. Window cleaners and water are considered weak; alcohol and bleach are moderate chemicals; but oil, gasoline, acetone, and xylene can ruin a label that isn’t printed on the right media. Exposure to UV and fluorescent light can fade it.

E = Environment: Barcodes that will be exposed to extreme temperatures require a specific type of substrate and adhesive that stands up to those conditions. If you’re producing barcodes for products or parts that will come in contact with intense cold (freezers, outdoors), heat (sterilizing), or moisture (steam, rain, snow), look for a synthetic barcode label that is manufactured for these environmental situations.

S = Surface: Consider the type of surface where the label will be applied. A smooth surface could be flat or curved, and that makes a difference in the media. A rough surface presents a different challenge. The type of surface material also impacts the barcode label adhesive you choose. Metal, paper, plastic, and corrugated have different characteristics for adhesion.

S = Size: The dimensions of your label are obviously critical to choosing the right barcode labels. Are you printing multiple labels side by side? Would rolls be the better choice for your printing volume? Your supplier can advise you on the best choice to fit the size of the barcode labels.

Avalon Integration can guide you through the barcode label choices so you’re sure to get the ideal pairing with your printer and purpose. We have partnered with Zebra to ensure the quality, consistency, and unmatched selection of thermal printing supplies. We also provide pre-printed labels and custom labels. Contact Avalon Integration to maximize the ROI in your barcode label printing.

Contact us today to learn more.

When you rely on your thermal printer to deliver heavy-duty performance, you can’t afford to hold onto an outdated printer. The cost of downtime, repairs, and replacement supplies eats into your profitability. Avalon Integration has partnered with Zebra to give you a solution to questionable barcode label printer performance.

The Zebra ZT600 industrial printer series was introduced last year, as an upgraded replacement to the company’s legendary Xi4 industrial printers, which already lead the industry in performance, durability, print speed, and quality. When we learned that Zebra had raised the standard for barcode label printing in tough environments, we knew our customers needed to explore it.

ZT600 Two Front Facing View

Then, Zebra helped us sweeten the deal with a cash rebate for these new printers. Buy a ZT610 or ZT620 thermal printer from Avalon Integration and get $250 back for a ZT610 and $500 for a ZT620 when you trade in your current industrial printer—even if you’re not using a Zebra model. Add in the Zebra OneCare Printer Service and you’ll receive an additional $50 cashback.

The cash rebate provides an incentive for making the move to the ZT600 barcode label printers, but there are many more reasons to upgrade now.

ZT600 Right Side View Printing

Zebra has incorporated “future-facing technology” in the ZT600 Printer Series—improvements that are designed to extend the life and value of your printer investment.

  • The ZR610’s 600 dpi resolution prints micro-labels are as small as 3 mm—ideal for circuit boards, chips, and miniature components.
  • Highly precise registration produces micro-consistent printing without waste.
  • Adaptable design enables field upgrades.
  • Long-life printheads reduce replacement costs and downtime.
  • Printhead pressure toggles with color-coded pressure indicators make it fast and easy to complete simple adjustments.
  • Zebra Link-OS Printer Profile Manager Enterprise, Mobile Device Management connectors, and Visibility Services streamline device and network management.

ZT600 Left Side View Printing

In addition, the ZT600 printers have kept the features that distinguished the Xi:

  • All-metal components resist extreme temperatures, moisture, dust, and dirt.
  • Side-loading and guided media paths simplify the task and reduce the printer’s footprint.
  • Built-in thermal management eliminates vents and fans to prevent dust and debris.
  • High-quality construction delivers superior quality, speed, and reliability.

Now is a great time to move up to more reliable, higher quality barcode label printing. Talk to us at Avalon Integration about the Zebra ZT600 industrial printers and the GO Zebra trade-in program.

Contact us today to learn more.

Thermal and Thermal Transfer Printer with suppliesThe names sound similar, so it’s easy to get confused about the differences between thermal printers and thermal transfer printers. The technologies are very different, and each one serves well in certain applications. Here’s everything you need to know about thermal and thermal transfer bar code label printers.

The Difference Between Thermal and Thermal Transfer Printers

Both technologies use heat to create an image on labels, and both technologies create clear, sharp images necessary for barcode reading. However, they use different methods to print barcodes.

  • Thermal transfer printers use a ribbon between the print head and the label. The print head heats the ribbon to transfer the image to the label.
  • Thermal (direct thermal technology) printers use chemically treated labels that are sensitive to heat. The print head blackens the label as it passes. There is no ink, toner, or ribbon involved in a thermal printer process.

Pros and Cons of Thermal Transfer and Thermal Printers

Thermal printers have an uncomplicated design that means they are reliable to operate. The cost of operating thermal printers for printing barcode labels is often lower with thermal printers because there is nothing required to create barcodes except the printer and the label. However, thermal images may fade over time or with exposure to heat and light, so the technology is best used in applications where the product is not in circulation for long lengths of time, or where the label will not be subject to those elements.

Thermal transfer technology melts the ink, which is absorbed by the paper label. This makes the images more durable. Image quality is often superior to other printing methods, making this technology ideal for use cases that require long-term readability. Thermal transfer printers can work with a wider variety of label materials, including paper, many plastics, and polypropylenes.

The Best Applications for Thermal Printers

  • shipping labels
  • pick lists
  • receipt tickets
  • inventory identification labels

They are also suitable for printing wristbands and event tickets, name tags, and visitor labels. The key requirement is that label readability should be of relatively short duration.

The Best Applications for Thermal Transfer Printers

Thermal transfer printing works well for applications where readability is required over a longer time.

  • asset tags
  • employee ID badges
  • patient wristbands
  • material certifications
  • serial number tags

In addition, labels that will be exposed to harsh conditions, chemicals, water, sunlight, sterilization, and temperature extremes are best created with thermal transfer printers. It is important to note that the thermal ribbon and the label material must be compatible to ensure that the ribbon’s ink can be absorbed properly.

Before investing in a thermal printing solution, consider all aspects and the life of the barcode labels you will be printing. We can help you determine which technology will be best for your application and ensure you have the right materials and compatible inks for your labels. Contact us today for more information.

Contact us today for information.