Gamma Electronics Blog

At What Point Should You Buy A Thermal Transfer Printer?

by | May 1, 2019 | Cable Identification, Heat Shrink Printing | 0 comments

Here at Gamma we make a lot of customized labels, mostly printed on heat shrink tubing.  Our Thermal Transfer Printers are great for printing these labels and while we primarily use them for heat shrink tubing these printers can be and are commonly used in far more applications including paper labels and receipts.

Some of you may be asking why you would use a Thermal Transfer Printer for labels, which is a topic we’ve addressed in a previous blog post.  For the purposes of this blog post let’s just say that the reasons to use a thermal transfer printer are numerous, especially when printing in high volumes and/or with materials like heat shrink.

The real question is at what point is it more cost effective to purchase a printer and create your own labels as opposed to ordering custom labels through a company like Gamma Electronics?

How Often and How Much

The simple answer comes in the form of a question: how much are you printing?  That question sounds simple but can in truth be difficult to answer.  How much you’re printing is likely to fluctuate depending on the given day, so we’re better served by first asking how often are you printing followed by how much?

How Often

If you’re printing daily, you’ll want to own a printer.  If you’re printing multiple times a week, again, you should probably have your own printer, otherwise you’ll be placing a lot of orders. But what about those who are just printing every now and then?

We like to suggest that if you’re ordering around 4 times a year you might want to look into purchasing a printer, but that is only true if the volume is high, (which we’ll discuss more in the next section).  If you’re ordering every few months at a lower volume it’s probably more cost effective to order labels than to purchase a printer, but to better answer that question we should really pin down how much you’re printing.

How Much

As the print volume grows things get a bit more tricky.  Let’s say you need 1,000 to 1,500 labels a couple of times a year.  At that point you are probably still better served ordering the prints.  Once you start ordering those same volumes around 4 times a year is about the time we recommend looking at getting a printer.

So to sum things up: If you’re ordering multiple times a month you probably want to get your own printer or if you’re ordering volume that reaches into the thousands 4 times a year or more you should also look into purhcasing a printer.

Printers Matched to Printing Quantity

Our team at Gamma Electronics has developed several printers designed to specifically match different volumes of printing.

If you need to print hundreds of labels and maybe go as high as labels in the low thousands then the Gamma Bolt is your machine.  It can print on varying heat shrink sizes and cut them to your specifications.

If you need to print in higher volumes, starting at around 5,000 prints at a time, then you will want to look at the Gamma Mark III Plus.  The Mark III Plus can easily print above 10,000 prints at a time and it gives you the option to print or perforate heat shrink.

Our third printer option is the Gamma Double Mark, which offers a number of the perks of the Gamma Mark III Plus but also offers the ability to print double sided labels.

The Gamma Bolt and Gamma Mark III Plus also come with Gamma Label, a proprietary software that makes designing and printing your own labels easy.

Pros and Cons: Ordering Prints vs Purchasing a Printer

There are a couple of other things to consider when trying to make the decision between purchasing a printer or having your labels printed for you.

First, having your own printer means no wait times. 

Owning a printer means you can print anytime you need to, (assuming you have the needed materials).  Anytime you order prints your order will take time to be printed and shipped meaning it’s probably a matter of a few days before you receive them, (at a minimum).  If you consistently need prints and need them almost immediately then you’ll want to own your own printer.

Second, printers have costs that go beyond the purchase price of the printer. 

Printer ribbons will need to be replaced as needed and software will need to be renewed on a yearly basis. Certainly, these costs aren’t enormous but you don’t have to worry about them when ordering prints.

Third, it’s almost always going to be easier to order prints than it is to make your own. 

There’s incredible convenience in ordering prints and having a professional take care of it for you.  However, there is also incredible convenience in being able to make your own prints when and where you need them.

To that point, we’ve gone to great lengths to make our Gamma Label software incredibly easy to use but, like any software, it does require a bit of learning.  Just know that owning a printer means taking the time to learn and operate it which is much different than asking an experienced professional to do those things for you.

For more information regarding our printers make sure to check out our Cable Identification page where you can also find information about purchasing a printer from Gamma Electronics directly.


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