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Thermal Printing Tips
 

General Print Quality Tips:

  • Monitor print quality regularly with a verifier.
  • Consult your label supplier before changing label stock or ribbon type
  • Use the highest wide/narrow ratio that space allows
  • Design labels so the bar code is in the picket fence (horizontal) rather than ladder orientation
  • Don't consistently run thermal transfer printers at top speed
  • If the bar code will be read with a pen wand, the wand aperture should be 80% of the symbol's X dimension (narrow element)
Bar Growth
  • Print speed to high - Reduce print speed
  • Old or inferior ribbon media - Use fresh (not older than one year) ribbon
Insufficient Print Contrast Signal (PSC) or Light Image
  • Print head overheats - Reduce print speed
  • Faded image - Create new label on laminated, protective stock
  • Ribbon and media incompatible - Consult supplier for compatible ribbon/media combination
     
Unable to Sustain Proper Wide/Narrow Ratio
  • Underburn (not enough ribbon transfer) -Raise energy setting, Use a ribbon with higher sensitivity
  • Overburn (too much ribbon transfer) - Reduce energy setting, Use a ribbon with lower sensitivity
  • Bars too thick - Reduce energy setting; improve ribbon/substrate quality
Streaks or "Dead Spots" in Labels
  • Wrinkled ribbon - Check ribbon path; increase tension; increase print speed; reduce energy setting
  • Vendor misapplied stock coating - Replace ribbon
Pits and/or Voids, Inconsistent Image Quality
  • Dirty print head - Clean print head with isopropyl alcohol or specialty cleaning solution
  • Dots missing or warn on print head -Replace print head
  • Ink picking - Reduce energy setting
Poor Edge Definition
  • Printing too fast - Slow print speed; do not rotate symbol
  • Ribbon and substrate incompatible - Consult supplier for compatible ribbon/substrate combination
Leading and/or Trailing Edges of Image are Translucent ("Ghosting")
  • Slew rate to print rate is too high - Reduce slew rate, one level at a time
  • Print head temperature is too low - Increase print head temperature level ("heat factor"), one level at a time

Entire Image is Translucent ("Ghosting")
  • Reverse transfer - Reduce print head temperature ("heat factor"), one level at a time. Increase print and slew rates, one level at a time.
     
Excessive Noise During Printing
  • Sticking between ribbon and "bleeding" label adhesives or label coatings - Reduce print head temperature ("heat factor"), one level at a time. Increase print and/or slew rates, one level at a time.