7 Ways to Keep Thermal Printheads From Wearing Out

Release Time: 04/02/2011 00:00 Font Size: Large Middle Small

Improper maintenance of a printhead looks like the one below.

Near Edge Thermal Transfer Printing

Are burned out printheads happening too often and frequently?

Be aware that heat, cooling and pressure are major reasons thermal printheads fail. Following these simple steps can save yourself hundreds of dollars in repairs.

As thermal transfer ribbon (TTR) is fed past the printhead , small resistor elements, known as dots are heated by applying an electric current to them.The heat from the dots is then transferred to either the direct thermal paper (media) or thermal transfer ribbon. The heat from the dot pattern produces the text, barcode or image on the label. Because the dots must be heated and cooled very rapidly, and there is friction as the ribbon or paper passes against the printhead , the printhead will eventually wear out.

As the printhead ages, the output will become lighter or sections of dots may stop heating and cause voids in the print.

There are some simple steps you can take to prolong the life of thermal label printer printheads.

1. Clean the printhead regularly, as described in the user’s manual. Dirty printheads produce less than optimal output and residue from the printing process can cause uneven heating or dissipation of heat by the dots.

2. Use good quality and the right type of paper and thermal transfer ribbon, using the wrong type causes additional mechanical and thermal wear on the printhead.

3. Use the lowest print speed setting that produces acceptable results. Again, this helps reduce mechanical wear on the printhead.

4. Try to run prints at room temperature where possible. Lower ambient temperatures require more energy to be sent to the dots to produce the print. Excessive heating and cooling of the printhead dots will shorten the life of the printhead.

5. Use the lowest contrast setting you can. Higher contrast means more heat to the printhead. Higher heat translates to a shorter life span.

6. If your printer has a printhead pressure adjustment, use the lowest setting possible. This will reduce the amount of friction the printhead sustains during printing.

7. Make sure you are not printing off of the thermal transfer ribbon. Thermal printers are designed to use the transfer of heat from the printhead to the print TTR as the primary cooling method. If the dots on the printhead are not printing on TTR, they are not cooling properly.

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