I need a label maker to replace my cheap thermal label printer
November 8, 2017 7:35 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for a label maker that is NOT thermal, but also not $900.

I work in a library and we have several $80 Brother thermal label printers. These work like a charm EXCEPT our school is not air-conditioned in the summer so the labels get too hot and fade.

I have seen that some thermal printers use a different type of technology that also involves a roller to press the ink to the label. Does anyone have any experience with that working for labels that might sit in sunlight or get hot? I would really like a long term solution.

We did in the past use a standard laser printer, but found that the label paper often didn't line up so we were losing 50% of the labels due to inability to set the machine to run the labels effectively. This was tried on 5+ different machines and multiple computers so assume that it is not great option. Another problem with it was that we didn't always want to make 30 labels at once anyway.

I would really like a plug and play machine, <$250 that would make 1 label at a time, and I would like the label to last more than 6months to a year.
posted by aetg to Education (6 answers total)
If your current label maker is compatible you might want to try the Harsh Environment P-Touch labels
posted by jmsta at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2017

Zebra makes thermal transfer label printers that work as you describe: it contains a roll of film covered in the pigment and uses heat to transfer it onto the label.


I've worked with Zebra printers and they're very good -- reliable and standardized. I can't speak to the resiliency of the heat-transfer labels, but I assume that since it doesn't rely on a chemical change in the paper itself the fading wouldn't be a problem. Maybe the transferred pigment could melt off again? But it feels like it's fused into the paper, so I'm guessing it won't.
posted by duoshao at 8:07 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can get old-school embossing label makers for under $10. Fancier models exist but ‘embossing Label maker’ might be a good category to check out.

The labels last a good 30 years or so and are still perfectly legible, I know because I’m almost 40 and I’ve found childhood items with those labels that I made as a kid.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:46 AM on November 8, 2017

To be clear, they need to make machine readable barcodes for use with a barcode scanner, so unfortunately, the plain hand models won't work.
posted by aetg at 8:48 AM on November 8, 2017

This is the one recommended by The Wirecutter. It might well be thermal, but in the Question section on Amazon someone asks about stability of the labels in heat and someone else answers, "I live in Michigan which has extreme temps from hot (not as hot as Vegas but we do get in the 90s) and very humid to fairly cold. I put some labels on plastic totes in my garage and they have held up well to the extreme temps. I also put one next to my front door on my vinyl siding and that has held up really well." (Question was asked in context of Vegas). Whether it can do barcodes is not entirely clear to me.
I have this labeler for kitchen use and my main complaint is that it leaves a lot of empty tape at each end of the text, wasting tape.
I think there are other sizes/related labels that might be more appropriate for library use. This is the one The Wirecutter recommends for office use; it mentions barcodes but I don't find anything about heat stability.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2017

P-Touch laminated labels are resistant to most environmental factors; we use them in hot industrial areas with success for long term labelling. A connectable model in conjunction with their software will allow you to print barcodes.
posted by Mitheral at 10:26 AM on November 8, 2017

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