In the world of thermal printers, there are lots of different options available to choose from. From the small and compact to the large and complex, choosing the right printer is no easy feat.
It’s important to understand all the details about each type of printer, so you can determine which one best fits your needs and budget.
With this in mind, we’ve collected the top 5 best ones available today to help you find the one that’s perfect for your home or office.
This includes printers that are both easy to use, affordable, and have good print quality.
We have compared a lot of thermal printers based on their features, print quality, functionality, and price, and have come up with the 8 best thermal printers for shipping labels and barcodes.
- What is a Thermal Printer?
- 8 Top Rated Thermal Printers for 2023
- How to Choose a Thermal Printer – Tips and Advice for Choosing the Right Thermal Printer for Your Business
What is a Thermal Printer?
A thermal printer is a type of printer that uses heat to produce a print. It heats a special type of ink and transfers it to a material you are printing on. Unlike conventional inkjet printers, thermal printers can print on a variety of materials, including cardboard, plastic, vinyl, paper, textiles, and glass.
There are two types of thermal printers: direct thermal printers and thermal transfer printers.
People use thermal printers in many industries, but most likely you will see them getting used to printing shipping labels and barcodes.
8 Top Rated Thermal Printers for 2023
While thermal printers have been around since the 1970s, they don’t look all the same nowadays. Thermal printers have advanced a lot in recent times; the quality of prints and durability have drastically improved.
Competition is fierce in 2022, and there are a ton of thermal printers on the market, but we’ve made a list of the 8 best ones that will suit your needs.
1. ROLLO Shipping Label Printer
One of the most popular thermal printers on the market is the ROLLO Shipping Label printer. The ROLLO label printer creates labels that can be used for packages that range from mail-order catalogs to small shipments.
An easy setup, compact design, affordable price, and great output quality are the main selling points of this printer. This is quite a compact printer with a very nice, sharp design.
What we liked about the ROLLO Shipping Label printer is the setup. Very straightforward, allowing you to print in no time.
However, its flaw is the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity, something that may represent an issue for some people. But, our opinion is that the fast printing speeds along with the fantastic output quality more than make up for that flaw.
Overall, this is an affordable yet powerful label printer that will surely come in handy when you need to print labels for your shipping needs.
2. Brother QL-1100
A more expensive option than the ROLLO Shipping Label Printer comes from Brother, a brand that needs no introduction. The QL-1100 is packed with useful features that will make the job of printing barcodes and labels easy.
One of the most helpful features that this printer has is surely the automatic cutting. There is a button with scissors on it found on the front of the printer which activates this feature, which is a huge timesaver when you need to print a lot of labels.
Let’s move on to connectivity options. The Brother QL-1100 has USB connectivity like the ROLLO Shipping Label Printer, but there is another Brother thermal printer (Brother QL-1110NWB) which is like this one but has Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity options, albeit for a higher price.
Brother QL-1100’s strong point is that it can print wide formats up to 4″, and for a wide-body thermal printer, the price of it is pretty affordable. Another strong point is the Plug & Play feature, which lets you print from the moment you connect the cable to your PC or Mac, removing the need for installing software in order to print.
While not as compact as the ROLLO Shipping Label printer, the QL-1100 is still a small and lightweight device that won’t take up a lot of space on your desk. For those who need a thermal printer for wide formats, this is the one that you should seriously consider.
3. DYMO LabelWriter 4XL
The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL is a thermal label printer that has an array of features that make it ideal for home offices and small businesses. It can print large 4 x 6 labels, barcodes, identification labels, and more.
That is one of this printer’s strongest selling points, the ability to print wider labels but having a compact size. The LabelWriter 4XL is very easy to set up and has a great selection of pre-programmed templates that are ready to use.
With a maximum resolution of 300dpi, you can expect some clear labels. The speed is also good, and that, combined with its great output quality, makes this a printer that must be on your shortlist.
While it does have its flaws like the lack of the automatic cutter and that you must use specific DYMO paper, it still tops our list as the best direct thermal printer.
4. ZEBRA GK420d Direct Thermal Desktop Printer
ZEBRA GK420d is a printer that uses direct thermal printing technology for producing sharp prints. Not the most nice-looking thermal printer that you can get, but it is a blazing fast one.
That is the feature that we liked the most about this compact printer. While speed is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a thermal printer, we like the ZEBRA GK420d because it brings a lot of features to the table.
The ZEBRA GK420d, because of its use of direct thermal printing technology, produces prints at a very low cost. While the printer itself is one of the most expensive on this list, in the long run, it is economic.
GK420d by Zebra is a reliable printer that produces high-quality use and is a superb choice for small businesses and home use.
If you are interested in another ZEBRA high-quality printer, feel free to check out our review of the ZEBRA GX430t review here.
5. MUNBYN Shipping Label Printer
One of the best bangs for the buck options on the market for home offices is the MUNBYN Shipping Label Printer. With a compact design, easy setup, and a great price, it’s truly easy to see why.
This printer is made to be reliable, fast, and easy to use. In order to print, just connect it to your device, open the lid, place the paper inside and you are good to go.
While the output quality is not as good as some more expensive options, it’s good enough for most small businesses that urgently need a small thermal printer. The maximum paper size that this printer supports is 4.3″ wide, and it has an Automatic Label Identification feature that recognizes the paper size when you put it in the printer.
MUNBYN Shipping Label Printer supports most shipping platforms, and for this price, it’s one of the best options if you are stepping into the world of thermal label printers.
6. Epson TM-T20II Direct Thermal Printer
Now we have the Epson TM-T20II, a printer made by one of the most recognizable printer manufacturers in the world. The TM-T20II is one of their most popular thermal printers, and all for the right reasons.
The second model in the family of TM-T20 printers, this printer has a couple of upgrades over its predecessor. This one has a pretty fast printing speed and is one of the most economical options on the market.
While it’s an older model, it still works like a charm, especially when you consider its low price. But, since it’s an older model, there are no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity options, and if you want a printer to have those, you should look elsewhere.
For those who don’t see a problem in that, this is one dependable barcode printer that has an easy setup, needs no ink replacement, and is fast.
7. Brother VC-500W
Now we have a thermal printer that is renowned for its great photo printing, and it’s the Brother VC-500W. It’s a very, very compact device that will take little to no space on your desk and will present you with some gorgeous-looking prints.
One of the advantages of the Brother VC-500W is that it supports Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, and when you install Brother’s iPrint&Scan application, you can print from your smartphone. It also has label-making applications which will allow you to express your creativity.
As we expected, the printing speeds are quite average and the printing can get costly, so if you want to use this printer for heavy-duty printing, we wouldn’t recommend it.
But, if you are looking for a compact thermal printer that has great output quality for photos, you should definitely consider the Brother VC-500W.
8. Brother P-touch CUBE Plus PT-P710BT
And finally, we have the Brother P-touch CUBE Plus PT-P710BT, a highly recommendable thermal printer for small labels. This is the smallest printer on this list, measuring at 3.8″ x 7.8″ x 8.2″.
It comes with a built-in Li-ion battery which makes this printer very portable, so you can truly print on the go. It also supports Brother’s applications: P-touch Design&Print App, iPrint&Label App, and P-touch Editor Software. These applications allow you to create a template or choose one from the template library.
Since its size is so compact, the print quality must deteriorate, but that’s the compromise that you have to make to have such a portable thermal printer. On the bright side, this small printer is very affordable and it’s one of the best printers for small labels.
How to Choose a Thermal Printer – Tips and Advice for Choosing the Right Thermal Printer for Your Business
When looking to get a new thermal printer for your business, you’ll need to know where to look and what to look for. With the growing number of options, you may not know where to begin.
You’ll want to find one that is best suited for your printing needs. This guide will help you get started in the right direction.
We’ll look at factors like cost, reliability, and print quality.
Cost is always going to be a big factor when choosing a printer. Find a thermal printer that fits your budget and has the features you need. As your business grows, you’ll want to invest in a reliable printer that will last you for years.
You’ll also want to look at the reliability of the printer. Does it have a warranty? What are the chances of a breakdown? How long will it take to repair or replace a broken part?
Reliability is a very important factor to consider when purchasing a thermal printer. You’ll want to make sure that it is built to last and will be able to handle the workload of your business.
3. Print Quality
The print quality is going to be affected by a few different factors but mostly by the DPI (dots per inch) of a printer. The higher it is, the better the print quality will be.
Small businesses can satisfy their printing needs with 300 dpi thermal printers, while bigger businesses should consider getting a thermal printer with 600 dpi, as that is the highest output quality you can get.