If you are planning on purchasing an industrial-grade thermal label printer, you need to weigh several factors. Let’s face it, these kind of machines are not cheap–they aren’t like the flimsy ones that folks buy to make organizational labels for their home, or for scrapbooking–these are commercial level equipment, and they’re designed to hold up to all the rigors of an industrial operation.
Pipe Marking Labels
So, with that in mind, here are the top 6 factors you should consider before you buy an industrial label maker:
1. Purpose: First off, what do you need to make heavy-duty labels for? Sure, these types of printers can make funny bumper stickers with a catchy slogan on it–but what do you REALLY need it for? Common uses for these are for making lots and lots of pipe markers, arc flash labels, and NFPA 704 “diamond” signs. They’re also great for making safety slogans, caution and warning signs, 5S, lean, kaizen, and traffic marking stickers. Depending on how many you need, you might need to use it every day, or for sporadic printings throughout the year. These printers are great, because most of them can print on label tape up to 4 inches wide, and can spit labels out much quicker than those store-bought consumer ones. They can also take the heat and tougher environments of factories and warehouses.
2. Durability: Modern label makers are nearly flawless at their job. They use thermal transfer ribbons and heat seal the text or graphics from the ribbon to a compatible thermal label. This allows for a product that will last for many years before seeing much physical degradation or fading. They are water-resistant and even resist chemical wear.
3. Ease of Use: Many label makers come with their own proprietary software, but I would recommend buying a label maker that can be used with any kind of word processing software or even programs like Photoshop. This way, if you have a change in employees, move offices, or just plain lose the original labeling software, you can still use the labeler.
4. Cost: Like I wrote above, these labeling systems aren’t cheap, but they are so much better than the store-bought kind. You can expect to pay between $600 up to $6000 for a really good label printer–and widths go from 3 inches up to 9 inches for most models.
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5. Supplies: Here is where you need to pay attention. No matter how great a printer you buy, you need to find one that uses quality labeling tape for an affordable price. You can find a cheap printer, but then you’re stuck with an expensive, third-rate tape. Think of all those home computer printers out there– some people opt for the really cheap printers, but then they are stuck buying expensive printer refill cartridges that end up costing them more in the long run!
6. Customer Service: When you are buying anything that is labeled “industrial”, you are investing in machinery, and you need to know that you will be taken care of by your salespeople. Find a company that will not only work with you for the initial sale, but be there when you need more supplies, repairs, etc. This is the beginning of a relationship, and you need to know you are choosing the right company to buy from.
Final Thoughts: Because I’m on the sales side of this industry, I have to suggest that you consider our LabelTac series of industrial label printers. They are robust, can print either up to 4″ (with our LabelTac 4 or 4 PRO models), or up to 9.5 inches (with the LabelTac 9). We’ve sold a lot of different labeling systems in our time, but we are concentrating on these because of their affordability, durability, compatibility, and because we believe they will be the best product for your purpose.