Trade Resources Industry Views Identifying Truly Cost-Effective Solutions Can Reduce Total Cost of Ownership

Identifying Truly Cost-Effective Solutions Can Reduce Total Cost of Ownership

Thermal transfer printers are a popular solution for reliable digital printing of variable information on a wide range of packaging substrates.

When comparing the cost-effectiveness of thermal transfer technologies, three often-overlooked elements can have a significant impact on a company′s bottom line.

By being sure to carefully weigh these considerations together with the upfront technology costs- users can be sure they are identifying truly cost-effective solutions that reduce total cost of ownership while providing optimal performance.

Element 1 – Technology migration and spare parts

Thermal transfer printers built with a rugged industrial design can provide quality print performance for as many as 10 years. Of course upfront system, training and installation costs make up a significant percentage of total system costs. But did you know that as much as 85 % of the total cost of ownership over the lifetime of the printer can be made up of consumables and part replacements?

We all know that factory floor environments are rough. Despite top-of-the-line durable industrial construction, printers will suffer from normal wear and tear and may need to have parts replaced.

There is an emerging trend in the industry that is making these standard maintenance updates very costly. Increasingly printer suppliers are no longer providing spare parts once they obsolete a particular printer model. This is done in an effort to force customers to purchase a new model of printer rather than simply update their existing and still functioning model.

To avoid an expensive forced product migration, be sure to ask any potential thermal transfer printer supplier how long they carry spare parts after a printer model has been end-of-lifed. A quality provider should provide spare parts for a minimum of five years.

To be extra cautious- make sure to ask all potential suppliers about the breadth of replacement parts they will provide. Does this list include PCB boards, flat cables, sensors, sliding rails, printhead belts, pneumatic valves and other sensitive components?

Eliminating the risk for premature forced product migration is an often-overlooked but very important component for reducing total cost of ownership.

Element 2 – Open system or closed system

Like many electronic products today, thermal transfer printers are designed with either an “open” and flexible infrastructure or with a “closed” one.

Open systems invite users to use the components that best suit their particular needs. Closed systems force users to use one particular company′s supporting technologies. Identifying a thermal printer supplier who provides a truly open platform – particularly in regards to printheads and software can help ensure optimum performance for your unique application as well as reduce total cost of ownership.


In thermal transfer printers- printheads typically need to be replaced roughly every 40 to 60 km of printing. For a line running 8 hours a day, this means printheads would be replaced roughly every 6 months. Printhead replacement may represent as much as 65 % of consumable printer expenses.

Many printers are designed to work with a broad range of printheads, allowing users to select the printheads that best meet their particular price and performance requirements. Beware of systems where printhead connectors lock users into one particular model of printhead as this will reduce user flexibility and opportunity to reduce total cost of ownership down the road.


Similarly, be sure to identify thermal transfer printer suppliers who offer a mix of software options. Quality suppliers will be able to provide either custom software solutions designed to meet your unique performance requirements or compatibility with industry-standard software options. This flexibility allows users to select the software platform that best ties into their budget and overall performance requirements.

Element 3 – Ribbon expertise

Ribbon plays a very central role in the performance of thermal transfer printers. Check to make sure any potential thermal system provider also has advanced expertise in film chemistry and provides complimentary support in helping users select the optimal film/ribbon material for each unique application.

Ribbon costs can account for as much as 35 % of consumable system expenses with thermal transfer printers, making an error in ribbon selection a costly mistake. Applying a deep understanding of film chemistry to a user′s unique performance requirements and environmental constraints allows quality printer suppliers to identify ribbon options that will provide reliable, high-quality, durable print. Quality suppliers should always specify the print parameters (print speed, ribbon selection and air pressure) that will provide optimal performance for each unique application.

Additionally, a quality supplier with ribbon expertise can go a step further if necessary and create custom ribbon options designed to meet particular performance requirements. Identifying a thermal transfer printer supplier with deep expertise in film chemistry and ribbon selection is an important step in ensuring optimal performance and minimizing the risk of costly mistakes.

In today′s tight economy where executives are keeping a close eye on their bottom line, identifying a truly cost-effective and high-performing thermal transfer printer can be key to success. Users can ensure reduced total cost of ownership and superior performance by looking not only at printer specs and upfront costs but also at technology migration options, open system components and ribbon expertise. Taking the time to investigate these elements can give users an important edge in today′s competitive marketplace.

Contribute Copyright Policy
Reducing The Total Cost of Ownership of Industrial Thermal Transfer Printing Systems