Anyone managing their own business and needing to print labels, receipts, and other documents may find the best thermal printers to be helpful devices.
Whether you’re working from home, a workshop or studio, or on the go, good thermal printers are a wonderful alternative for small arts and crafts businesses because they’re typically lighter, smaller, and more reliable than ordinary home printers. They also require less maintenance.
The fact that thermal printers—especially the best thermal label printers—don’t require toner or ink cartridges is their greatest advantage.
Paper and the printer itself are all you need. This implies that if you print labels in large quantities for your craft items on websites like Etsy, they are typically less expensive to run. We’ve analysed the top thermal printers based on their features, specifications, customer feedback, and affordability to make your decision easier because there are many options available.
We’ve selected options for multiple uses, such as the most inexpensive thermal printers and label printers, and we’ve highlighted the considerations for each one, including the printer’s size, efficiency, connectivity, and OS compatibility.
Before exploring the leading thermal printers, it’s crucial to know the fundamental principles of thermal printing. Unlike conventional inkjet or laser printers, thermal printers utilize heat for ink transfer onto paper.
Two primary types of thermal printing exist:
- Direct thermal Printing
- Thermal transfer Printing
Direct Thermal Printing
Direct thermal printers employ heat-sensitive paper that darkens when exposed to heat. Ideal for tasks like receipts, shipping labels, and barcode printing. This method proves cost-effective as it eliminates the need for ink or toner cartridges.
Thermal Transfer Printing
This method involves a ribbon coated with ink, melted onto paper when heated. Suited for applications requiring heightened print durability, such as product labels and tags. It provides a broader spectrum of color options compared to direct thermal printing.
7 Best Thermal Printers
The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL stands out as the best overall thermal label printer. Compact and sleek with dimensions of 5.5 x 7.8 x 7.3 inches, it offers USB connectivity and a resolution of 300dpi. With a print speed of 127mm/s and a maximum label width of 4.16 inches, it’s compatible with both Windows and Mac systems.
Ideal for e-commerce sellers, especially those on platforms like Etsy, small shops, and websites, this printer is praised for its easy setup and compact design. It excels in producing crisp labels, particularly for shipping, and supports various label sizes.
The Dymo 4XL is well-suited for major online marketplaces, allowing direct printing of shipping labels from platforms like Amazon and eBay. Offering over 60 label styles, numerous fonts, and achieving a printing speed of around 29 labels per minute, it proves efficient for substantial printing tasks.
The Phomemo PM-246 Pro is acknowledged as a good thermal printer for everyday use. With dimensions of 8.66 × 4.13 × 3.54 inches, it offers USB connectivity, a resolution of 203dpi, and a print speed of 150mm/s. The maximum label width is 4.1 inches, and it is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Compact and suitable for everyday labelling, the Phomemo PM-246 Pro is built for high-volume printing, running for up to 12 hours straight. While lacking wireless connectivity, its USB setup is straightforward, supported by instructional videos and guides. Versatility in label sizes and the included label holder make it a reliable choice for various labeling needs.
The MUNBYN Thermal Shipping Label Printer is tailored for small businesses. With dimensions of 7.6 x 4.1 x 3.9 inches, it offers USB connectivity, a resolution of 203dpi, and a print speed of 150mm/s. Versatile and easy to set up, it’s compatible with Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS.
Ideal for small businesses, this desktop-sized label printer is cost-effective and efficient. Despite being larger than some options, its compact design ensures suitability for various settings. Compatible with popular software and platforms, including Adobe, Microsoft, Etsy, and eBay, it delivers fast printing at up to 72 labels per minute. The MUNBYN printer supports different label sizes, making it a versatile choice for various business needs.
The Brother P-touch CUBE Plus PT-P710BT is recognized as the best label printer for very small labels. With dimensions of 2.6 x 5 x 5 inches, it offers Bluetooth and Micro-USB connectivity, a resolution of 360 dpi, and a print speed of 20mm per second. The maximum label width is 1 inch, and it is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
This compact thermal printer is designed for creating narrow, plastic labels. With wireless capabilities, including Bluetooth and Micro-USB, it offers flexibility for desktop and mobile use. Rechargeable and user-friendly, it is particularly well-suited for Android and Apple devices. The app provides additional features, such as icons, images, barcodes, logos, and even a spellchecker, enhancing its functionality.
The Brother ColAura VC-500W stands out as the best thermal color printer. With dimensions of 4.5 x 4.6 x 3.8 inches, it offers wireless and USB connectivity, a resolution of 313dpi, and a print speed of 8mm/s. The maximum label width is 1.96 inches, and it is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Recognized for its vibrant color printing capabilities, the Brother VC-500W offers flexibility in label creation. Supporting various label sizes and maintaining high print quality at 313DPI, it enables creative and personalized label designs.
Easy printing from different devices, including social media platforms, adds to its user-friendly features. However, the cost of printing rolls may be a consideration for high-volume tasks.
The Rollo Wireless Printer X1040 stands out as the best wireless thermal printer in the US. With dimensions of 8 × 4 × 4 inches, it offers both WiFi and USB connectivity, a resolution of 203dpi, and a print speed of 150mm/s. It supports a maximum label width of 4.1 inches and is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chromebook, and Linux.
Featuring a sleek white design with purple highlights, this printer is ideal for those needing 4×6-inch shipping labels. Its wireless capabilities, including WiFi and USB connectivity, provide convenience for printing from various devices. The Rollo Ship Manager, offering shipping discounts, enhances its appeal for businesses. While relatively expensive, it delivers efficiency and ease of use, with easy setup and compatibility with multiple platforms.
The Arkscan 2054A is highlighted as the best basic thermal printer. With dimensions of 8.3 x 9.5 x 6.5 inches, it offers USB connectivity (wireless version available), a resolution of 203dpi, and a print speed of 127mm/s. The maximum label width is 4.25 inches, and it is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Designed for simplicity and ease of use, the Arkscan 2054A is a basic yet approachable thermal printer. Quick setup, good print speed, and reasonable pricing make it suitable for businesses printing 6 x 4-inch shipping labels regularly. While some features are Windows-only, it offers versatility with the option to use label rolls stored in the printer.
Choosing the Right Thermal Printer
Choosing the right thermal printer is a critical decision for businesses, given its direct impact on efficiency, productivity, and overall operational success.
There are several key factors to take into account when making this selection.
Firstly, it’s essential to determine the type of thermal printing that suits your application—whether it’s direct thermal or thermal transfer. Direct thermal is suitable for short-term labels, while thermal transfer is preferable for more durable, long-lasting prints.
The volume of printing required is another crucial consideration. High-volume applications may find industrial-grade printers beneficial, while compact or desktop models may suffice for smaller volumes.
The speed at which labels or receipts need to be printed is an important aspect. High-speed printers are indispensable for businesses with fast-paced operations, while moderate or standard speeds may be adequate for others.
Print resolution is a key factor in ensuring the required image quality. Higher resolutions are essential for detailed graphics or small font sizes, while standard resolutions suffice for most text-based applications.
Compatibility with label sizes and materials is crucial. Ensure that the printer supports the specific sizes and materials required for your labels. Some printers offer flexibility in handling various label sizes and materials, providing versatility for different applications.
Consideration of connectivity options is vital for seamless integration with existing systems. Evaluate options such as USB, Ethernet, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi, ensuring compatibility with POS systems, computers, or mobile devices.
Ease of use is another significant aspect. Look for a printer with an intuitive and user-friendly interface, particularly considering users with varying technical expertise.
The durability and build quality of the printer should align with the environmental conditions of your workspace. Industrial settings may necessitate more robust, heavy-duty printers, while compact designs may suit office environments.
Consider the reputation of the brand for reliability and customer support. Established brands with a history of producing quality printers are often a safer choice for long-term satisfaction.
Evaluate the total cost of ownership, including initial purchase price, ongoing consumables like labels and ribbons, and maintenance costs. Choose a printer that aligns with your budget constraints.
Finally, ensure that the chosen printer complies with relevant industry standards and regulations, particularly for businesses operating in regulated sectors like healthcare or manufacturing. By carefully considering these factors, businesses can identify the thermal printer that best meets their specific needs, optimizing efficiency and ensuring a smooth printing experience.
What are the uses for a thermal printer?
Thermal printers are well-suited for various business applications, professional crafters, artists, and hobbyists with specific printing needs, such as label or receipt printing. They are particularly advantageous for tasks that don’t require long-term durability, as thermal printing tends to fade over time.
How do thermal printers’ function?
The working mechanism of thermal printers differs from standard home printers that typically use laser or inkjet technology. Thermal printers employ heat to transfer pigments onto a surface, causing the coating of thermal paper to turn black in the heated areas.
What are the benefits of thermal printer?
The key advantages of thermal printers include the elimination of the need for ink cartridges. Instead, you only require thermal paper and the printer itself. Additionally, thermal printers are generally smaller and lighter compared to most regular printers.
What are the drawbacks of thermal printer?
However, there are some drawbacks to thermal printers. They often come with a higher upfront cost than standard printers. While you don’t need to purchase ink, you must buy thermal paper rather than regular paper. Thermal printers also have limitations in terms of color, and the prints may fade over time.