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Where printed labels are critical for the identification of items, people etc and need to be robust in various environments, Inkjet, laser and dot matrix technologies struggle to deliver performance, quality and durability when used to print labels.
Thermal transfer and direct thermal printers have been specifically designed to meet the demanding requirements for printing rugged, durable easy to print labels.
Laser printers and inkjet printers print a complete A4 page of labels at a time. So if you only require to print one label, or less than an A4 sheet of labels, these printers are not as economical as a thermal label printer due to wasted unprinted labels. A thermal label printer can print from 1 – XXXX labels with no wastage.
Thermal direct and thermal transfer printers have been designed specifically to print labels and will not handle any other type of stationery.
The label sizes these printers support depend on the printhead width and memory size. The label widths supported will range from 10mm to 100mm/150mm/204mm depending on the printhead width. The label height is only limited by the print image memory and ranges from 10mm to in excess of 1,000mm.
Thermal label printers, when installed with correct label facestock and matching ribbon type (see Ribbon/ Label Q & A), allow the printing of quality labels of varying material that meet a wide range of user requirements regarding quality, durability and adhesives.
The label material (facestock) comes in three different base material types.
Thermal direct (does not require a ribbon installed in printer). This material is the least robust and has limited durability if subjected to heat, light or liquids. Only recommended if label is being used in the short-term. Can be coated to improve durability.
Thermal transfer paper (requires a ribbon that is suitable for the label facestock, wax). Low cost vellum with wax ribbon suitable for internal environments.
Thermal transfer coated paper (requires a ribbon that is suitable for label facestock and environment wax or wax/resin). Can use wax ribbon but for best durability a wax/resin ribbon may be better. Suitable for internal environment and moderate abuse (recommended as scratch resist, moderate dampness, prevention of smudging).
Thermal transfer synthetic facestock (requires resin ribbon). Produces most robust label, suitable for harsh environment, high scratch resistance and can resist moisture and even some chemicals.
Having chosen the label type (facestock) and ribbon type you also need to specify the label size, labels across web (depends on label width), label spool size (see printer spec)
Check printer specification to see what size ribbon spool is required to have the ribbon wound on. Check if the ribbon is required to be inside or outside wound.
Depending on label facestock to be used, choose wax, wax/resin or resin ribbon material to ensure optimum print quality and durability of label printed.
Check label width to be used and then specify ribbon width to cover surface of label.
Check max ribbon length specified for printer then choose ribbon length to be used.
The Patient data for print on wristbands is downloaded from the Hospital PAS (Patient Administration System) which ensures the information printed is secure and correct. Because data is printed it’s always easy to read, correct and up to date, unlike written data. Also, to improve security and data accessibility, Barcodes can be printed with the readable data.
The NPSA (National Patients Safety Association) advises all NHS Trusts that they should upgrade to Printed Wristbands to help improve patient care safety.
The use of barcodes will also assist in patient tracking, recording data, dispensing medication and recording blood and specimen samples.
"We worked very closely with About Face Solutions to make this project successful and Label Printers have now been in place on all Wards, Clinics etc, for a number of years, producing Labels that reduce costs and assist Clinicians in delivering improved patient care and safety."
Authors: Jas Cartwright & Ken Hadley
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
"Always a delight speaking to the staff at About Face solutions, either on the phone or by email. Nothing is too much trouble (even when I'm being a pain) and all of my questions or queries have been dealt with quickly."
Specialist Pharmacy Technician - Kingston Hospital
"About Face Solutions have provided the wristbands & lanyards for our festival for the last few years. I would highly recommend this company as the service is excellent and delivery is always prompt."
Production Manager, Marvellous Festivals
"I would like to say thank you for persisting with resolving the printing issues with the replacement printer for us at Loma, and for providing the stand in printer.
Maybe you could say thank you to your stores person for the Zebra printer we used for testing for a couple of days, we really appreciate it. All this means I can install a replacement printer in the Czech Republic when I visit in November."
Business Systems Manager – Loma Systems
"Our order for label printers arrived at the end of last week. Thank you so much for prompt delivery and excellent service."
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust