A thermal printer is one of the most important and effective machines in any digital business. It is basically used to produce crisp and clear print labels and barcodes, especially in high volume environments. The fact that thermal printers have printheads that are designed to generate millions of high-quality images and texts on labels and barcodes before they need replacement make them very crucial to any business. However, these benefits become non-existent when thermal printers and printheads are not properly maintained.

That said, proper maintenance of both the thermal printer and the printhead will result to high quality print labels and barcodes. It will also ensure low maintenance cost and a peace of mind as you will not have to worry about constant repairs and replacements of the printer’s components.

Factors that Impact of a Printer’s Performance

Apart from wear on the printhead and other printer components, there are a number of factors that can have negative impacts of the performance of your desktop or mobile barcode printer. They include: dust, humidity, heat, quality of paper stock used when printing, as well as the quality of thermal transfer ribbons. Therefore, maintaining high levels of cleanliness at all times, as well as looking into these other factors is the basis of a printer’s proper maintenance.

Proper Printhead Care

The printhead is definitely the most critical, expensive and delicate component of a thermal printer. In fact, the general performance of a printer in terms of generating high quality printing largely depends on the performance of the printhead.

It is important to keep in mind that dirt and residue such as adhesive from the thermal labels can stick on the printhead over time. Lack of regular cleaning thereof, can cause some sort of barrier between the printhead and the labels, which in turn leads to poor print quality. So to avoid untimely printer failure and poor print quality, here are some cleaning tips.

Use Isopropyl Alcohol 

Isopropyl alcohol is essential in cleaning the printhead by dissolving dirt or any residue. Consider applying the solution on the cleaning swab or a lint-free piece of cloth and wipe on every surface of the printhead. You should remember to apply minimal force during cleaning so as not to cause damage without forgetting to be effective. Do it thoroughly and allow the printhead to dry fully before using the printer.

Cleaning Cards

As an alternative cleaning method, cleaning cards clean both the printhead and any residue that may have gathered on the printer’s rollers. This method should, however, be used occasionally as it can cause scratches that could damage the printhead in the long run.

Cleaning Pens

Cleaning pens are superb for simple cleanings. All you have to do is press the tip of the pen to the printhead and move from side to side. It is stipulated that cleaning pens should be used around ten times or until they accumulate dirt residues.

Thermal Ribbons with In-built Printhead Cleaners

There are thermal ribbons that come with in-built cleaners. They are great, especially if you do not want to clean the printhead every time a roll is replaced. The new rolls come with attached cleaners so you just install it and pull it through to do the cleaning.

Whilst doing all the cleaning, remember not to do the cleaning while the printer is on and never open the printhead’s system. Avoid touching on any part of the printhead except on the edges as this could potentially cause damage. Ensure that cleaning is done each time a ribbon roll is changed as regular cleaning will ensure continuous excellent printing results. You should also consider a yearly checkup with an expert so as to maximize on the life of your thermal printer and printhead.


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