Zebra Technologies has introduced its new line of tabletop label printers with a wide range of advanced features. Let's take a look under the hood and see what innovations these printers are bringing to the packaging industry.
The ZT510, Zebra ZT610 and ZT620 industrial thermal transfer printers are the next generation printers that combine rugged durability and exceptional performance on a user-friendly, future-ready platform. These new models will be replacing some of the older label printers from the Zebra line-up: the Zebra ZT510 replaces the 105SL Series whereas ZT610 replaces the 110Xi4 Series and ZT620 replaces the 170Xi Series.
Let's take a closer look at these new printers and see how they might fit into your label production. Before purchasing an industrial printer, you should be aware of its features and your own job requirements. There are many different makes and models of label printers in the marketplace. By taking the time to understand all the different options available, you will ensure you have a printer that can get the job done now and long into the future.
The Zebra ZT510 Label Printer
Zebra ZT510 industrial label printer is the next generation of the 105SLPlus series, building on the legacy of the industry-leading 105SLPlus printer. This new printer has the core features you need in an industrial printer at a cost-effective price point.
With it's proven, durable design and construction, the ZT510 also features advanced management and monitoring capabilities. That means you get 24/7 reliability to keep your operations running smoothly, plus longevity and advanced functionality to power through every challenge in the years to come — all at an exceptional value.
What is the best ribbon to use in my thermal-transfer label printer?
Most people never stop to think about whether they are using the most efficient, cost-effective ribbon for their every-day labels. They just keep ordering the brand that came with their Zebra or Sato label printer.
But there have been many new advancements in ribbon technology that could help users save money on label costs and maintenance. So here are four good reasons to check and see if you are getting the best bang for your buck with your ribbons and how Weber's Go-Mark 100 ribbons might change your mind.
One: What are you labeling?
Most people that use thermal-transfer label printers from manufacturers like Zebra, Datamax and Sato are printing simple paper labels for bar code or shipping labels. These labels are mostly single use, applied usually to a shipping carton or envelope, and don't need to last more than a week or so. They get ripped off and throw away after the package arrives. Done.
Barring any extreme handling or careless shipment, standard wax ribbons work just fine for shipping and bar code labels. Depending on the ribbon, you get a dark black transfer of the text or image onto plain paper labels that are fairly durable. But beware; some wax ribbons don't print dark enough or transfer the ink from the ribbon correctly, making the label hard to read. Buy quality wax ribbons from a good source.
Weber's Go-Mark 100 wax ribbons feature a rich blackness for basic label printing applications such as shipping and product identification labels. The new ribbons are compatible with both coated and uncoated label materials, working well with flood-coated color labels, too.
If you need a more durable print on your label, say for a label that will endure abrasion or needs to last more than a week, you can step up to a wax/resin formulation ribbon that will last longer. But the price increases, too. If you don't worry about harsh treatment or longevity, stick with simple wax ribbons.
Also, be sure to pick a ribbon that fits the size requirements of your label. Don't use a 4-inch wide ribbon if your label printing area is only 2 inches wide. You can use a less-expensive ribbon by selecting a ribbon just slightly wider than the label width. For example, if you have only a 2" wide label, use a 2.36" width ribbon instead of a 4.06" ribbon which is more money per roll. But remember, it is important that the ribbon be slightly wider than the label to protect the printhead.
Two: Print head maintenance
One of the inherent problems with thermal-transfer label printing is keeping the print head happy. Inside each printer is a heating device that transfers the ink from the ribbon to the label surface. Read this blog of ours about to see how that works.
The print head can get finicky when dirt and dust from the workplace (or just paper dust from the label roll) starts clogging it up. Your label will have areas of missing print indicating it's time for maintenance on the printer.
And easy way to avoid this problem is to clean the print head after every ribbon change. But not many people want to take the time to open the print head and do the work.
The new Go-Mark 100 wax ribbons from Weber now come with a built-in Clean Start leader that automatically cleans your print head as you load each ribbon. It takes care of the dust and dirt while maintaining your printer every time you change ribbons. Simple. And no more missing print or stopping production to do housekeeping chores.
A thermal-transfer printer is a non-impact printer. With thermal-transfer printing, a thermal print head applies heat to a ribbon, which melts ink from the ribbon onto the label material to form the image. A typical thermal-transfer ribbon consists of three layers: the base material or ribbon backing, the hot melt ink, and the coating on the print side of the base material.
Thermal-transfer printers are everywhere – from desktop units & industrial tabletop units to automated print and apply labeling systems. Since different ribbons are made of various ink formulations, a thermal-transfer heat setting can be adjusted on the printer for the given ribbon/label stock combination. Zebra printers require ribbons wound with the ink side out referred to as coated side out (CSO). Datamax printers require ribbons wound with the ink side in referred to as coated side in (CSI). Sato printers can use either configuration.
How do you decide which ribbon type will produce optimal results and is best suited for your application? Label material and the application environment/requirements will play a major role in determining the proper ribbon. In thermal transfer printing, the printer, ribbon and substrate work together as a printing system.
We have all seen RFID labels and tags on products in stores. Usually they are on more expensive items that are small and are often targets of shoplifting. `
When you check out, the cashier rubs the RFID tag on a deactivation device that kills or zeroes the encoding. This allows the customer to walk out the door without alarms going off at the door.
How many times has a cashier missed a tag of yours and you set off the alarm on your way out of a store? Awkward to say the least!
But there are other ways that RFID labels are being used in manufacturing and distribution these days.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is an automatic identification method that stores and remotely retrieves data via an RFID inlay embedded in a label or tag. The components of an RFID label include:
a protective/printable face stock
a layer of adhesive
the RFID inlay
another layer of adhesive
a removable release liner
Here is an industrial application that came up recently. Weber had a customer that was having trouble with missing shipping containers and asked us to help with the project.
Texas-based Mission Foods, one of the world’s largest producers of corn flour & tortilla products, was losing thousands of returnable plastic trays annually. This resulted in millions of dollars lost in revenue each year.
You finally get that new label printer for your shipping department and you start reading the manual. You new printer is ideal for printing labels with bar codes and high-quality images. That's great. Hmmm... it prints in both thermal-transfer and direct thermal modes.
It's Farmers Market season! Each weekend in my neighborhood local artisans and farmers come to the park to sell baked goods, cheeses, jams, sauces and so much more. For many of these small businesses this is the first step in their retail journey, with the ultimate goal of selling their product in gourmet shops or grocery stores.
Because of cost, packaging is usually just for protection and not marketing. And while the packaging at a Farmers Market might not be as important as a traditional store, it still can make a big impact.
Many people use small address labels from the local Office Max that are either hand-printed or run through a cheap home printer. That doesn't do much for your product. A simple way to upgrade your brand is to add a colorful label applied to the plain packaging. your label can include contact information, nutrition facts, and a fun colorful logo to draw in customers.
A big reason that some small food brands steer away from using color labels is the cost. If you only need a few hundred labels a season or need to make changes frequently to the label, getting your labels pre-printed might be a challenge. But there is hope.
If you're looking for really low quantities but want good looking color labels, we recommend an on-demand printer like the Epson Colorworks C3500. You can print the labels as you need them so if you want to test a new product or need to make changes to the label quickly you can do that with little investment in time and money.
This printer is perfect for food labels like cupcakes, breads, hot sauce bottle labels or artisan soaps.
Take a tour of the Epson ColorWorks C3500 with our Vertical Markets Manager, Paul Johnson, and see how compact and easy it is to use.