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Zebra ZD220

Different shaped thermal transfer and direct thermal models of ZD220 and ZD230
Thermal Transfer (L) and Direct Thermal (R) versions of the Zebra ZD220

Zebra’s Entry level label printer.  Make label printing quick, easy and reliable with the ZD220.

  • Zebra’s lowest cost thermal label printer.
  • Prints 40 standard shipping labels (6″ x 4″)  a minute.
  • Standard USB connection to your computer
  • Comes with basic label design software enabling you to design and print labels – but you’ll need to pay extra for software that works with spreadsheets or databases.
  • Uses a 74m long thermal ink ribbon
  • The Thermal Transfer model prints onto paper, plastic and tags
  • 203 dpi only
  • The label/tag gap sensor doesn’t move the whole width of the printer – so it would need to be checked before you buy
  • Isn’t equipped with Zebra’s OS-Link software, as all other Zebra printers are.  That limits its ability to do special things.
  • 4″ print width

ZD220 Products

We don’t have an online shop capability.  If you like what you see and want to buy the ZD220 click the button below. 

A blank email will pop up and you can tell us what you want and ask any questions. 

From there we will send you an invoice and get your order processed.

Useful Links

Updated 18 Jun 2020

Which Zebra Industrial printer should I buy?

Zebra Technologies has a wide range of industrial label printers so where do you start if you’re new to label printing and have never owned an industrial label printer before? 

In this article you find:

  • The four main families of label printer
  • A comparison table of the differences between the printers
  • How to decide which printer you need.

So if you want to make a decision about which Zebra industrial label printer is best for you – read on.

Entry Level Industrial Printer - ZT200 Series​

These are industrial sized but, compared with their older brothers, the ZT200 label printers are still babies.

These printers have limited user interfaces, a pedestrian 6 inches per second print speed and in the case of the ZT220 – a plastic case.

That said, if you want a printer that has a larger label capacity than a desktop printer and you don’t need fast print speed or great durability then the ZT200 series could well be your best choice.

They’re easy to use with handles and buttons colour coded so you can easily work out how the printer works.  The bi-fold door is a handy feature that makes working in limited space a whole lot easier.

Mid-Range Industrial Printer - ZT400 Series​

Zebra ZT400 Industrial label printer
Zebra's ZT400 series Industrial Label Printers

The ZT400 series are really powerful printers, they’re fast, packed with features and designed to be flexible. 

Whilst, compared to the ZT500 and ZT600, these printers don’t quite have the staying power,  they will give you years of service (if these printers perform as well as their predecessors, they will comfortably see ten years of service). 

Six reasons why the ZT411 and ZT421 are better than the ZT200 series:

  • USB, Serial, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Dual USB Host connectivity as standard, with RFID options and two extra connection options.

  • Faster print speed (more than twice as fast)

  • Large colour touch screen
  • Interior lights for easy label and tag loading
  • 203, 300 and 600 dpi print resolution options
  • 152mm wide printer model.
Zebra ZT411 interior lights
Zebra ZT411 interior lights

High Performance Industrial Printer - ZT500 Series​

Zebra ZT500 Label Printer

The ZT500 series along side the ZT600s are the toughest printers Zebra have to offer.  They are built to last and to keep going under harsh conditions 24 hours a day. 

If the ZT411 is a sports car, the ZT500 is a heavy goods vehicle – built to cruise the motorways year after year.  No special bells and whistles – just a good solid printer.  So solid in fact, that it weighs 22KG, versus it’s lightweight ZT411 brother at a mere 14KG. 

Key features:

  • Solid construction – all metal.
  • 203dpi or 300dpi print resolution options
  • 104mm print width.
  • 12 inches per second print speed – slower than the ZT411 and ZT600 printers.
  • You can fit a cutter and catch tray, label peeler or rewind unit yourself – without returning it to the factory
  • USB, Ethernet, Bluetooth and Serial connections.
  • 450m ink ribbon length.
  • A more straightforward paper and ribbon path which makes it easier to load.
  • A grey-scale display panel with buttons (no colour touch screen on this model).
  • No clear panel or bifold on the side door.
  • Doesn’t have the colour coded operator cues found on pretty much all other Zebra printers.

Straight paper path on ZT510 No colour cues but an easier loading experience[/caption

Premium Industrial Printer - ZT600 Series​

Zebra ZT600-Series
4" wide ZT610 and 6" wide ZT620 Industrial printers

The ZT600 series are top of the Zebra printer range. Like the ZT500, they are built to last and to keep going under harsh conditions 24 hours a day.  Unlike the ZT500 – they are packed with features.

If the ZT500 is an oil tanker – built to cruise the oceans year after year – the ZT600 is a cruise liner – built to keep going but with all the luxuries. 

It’s a world apart from the ZT200 series – with a price tag to match.

Key features:

  • Solid construction – all metal.
  • 203dpi, 300 dpi or 600dpi print resolution options
  • 104mm print width or 168mm with the ZT620.
  • Up to 14 inches per second print speed – for a 203dpi ZT610 (slower for higher print resolution options).
  • You can fit a cutter and catch tray, label peeler or rewind unit yourself – without returning it to the factory
  • USB, 10/1000 Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth and Serial connections.
  • 450m ink ribbon length.
  • A colour display panel with buttons or optional colour touch screen.
  • Clear panel and bi-fold on the side door.
  • Colour coded operator cues.
Zebra ZT610 600dpi High Resolution printer
Zebra's ZT600 Printers are the best for small, high resolution labels

Zebra Industrial Printer Comparison Table

 ZT200 SeriesZT411 SeriesZT510ZT600 Series
Print width104mm104mm or 152mm104mm104mm or 152mm
Max print speed6 ips 14 ips12 ips14 ips
Print Resolution203dpi/300dpi203dpi/300dpi/600dpi203dpi/300dpi203dpi/300dpi/600dpi
User displayThree buttons and LEDs (ZT220) & LCD display and status LEDs (ZT230)4 inch colour touch screensLCD display and status LEDsOptions of:
4 inch colour touch screen or
Colour LCD screen & status LEDs
Ribbon length300m (ZT220) or 450m (ZT230)450m450m450m
Case ConstructionPlasticMetalMetalMetal
Standard CommunicationsUSB & SerialUSB, Serial, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Dual USB HostSerial, USB, Gigabit Ethernet, BluetoothSerial, USB, Gigabit Ethernet, USB Host (2), Bluetooth
Communications OptionsParallel,
10/100 Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless, one open communication slot
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Parallel, Ethernet, applicator interface.Parallel, Wifi, Bluetooth, Extra USB Host, Gigabit Ethernet, two open communication slotsParallel, Wifi, Bluetooth, applicator port, Extra USB Host, Gigabit Ethernet, two open communication slots
RFID Option AvailableNoYesNoYes

How to Decide Which Label Printer to Buy

We’ve built a simple ‘printer chooser’ – a quick questionnaire that asks all the relevant questions you need to help narrow down the best printer for you.

Sadly, it’s not fully automated for instant answers and requires one of the team here at Expert Labels to make recommendations – but if you would like help deciding – click this button for further help.

Updated 20 May 2020

Zebra ZD230

What’s the difference between Zebra’s ZD220 and ZD230 label printers

At the end of 2019 Zebra Technologies (the world’s largest printer manufacturer) added two new thermal label printers to their range, the ZD220 and ZD230.  This time at the bottom of the cost spectrum, replacing their GC420 label printer.  Whilst these are small low-performance printers, they’re perfect for most office uses.

Zebra have launched two, the ZD230 and the ZD220. If you’re wondering what the differences are – read on.

Let’s take a look at the differences between the ZD220 & ZD230.

External Differences between ZD230 and ZD220

Zebra ZD220 Rear
Single USB socket on ZD220
Zebra ZD230 Rear Image
USB & Network connector on Zebra ZD230

The only visible differences between the two printers is that the ZD230 has a network connector as well as a USB connector.

Performance Differences between ZD230 and ZD220

  • The ZD230 prints at 150mm per second (6 inches) and the ZD220 only prints at 100mm (4 inches). 
  • The larger of the two printers, the ZD230, can be loaded with 300m thermal ribbons as well as the standard 74m lengths.  The ZD220 can only use the 74m length.  Loaded with 300m thermal ribbons means the ZD230 will print four times longer before you need to change ribbons. 
  • The Zebra ZD230 can be bought with a WiFi and Bluetooth option, which the ZD220 can’t.

The Similarities

Shape, buttons and operation are the same between the two models.

Direct Thermal Model of ZD220/230

The Direct Thermal model (the one that doesn’t use a thermal ink ribbon to print with) is smaller and is a different shape.

The Thermal Transfer model (on the left) needs space inside the case for a thermal ribbon to be loaded.

Different shaped thermal transfer and direct thermal models of ZD220 and ZD230


When it comes to prices between the two models things are a little odd.

The ZD220 is, as you would expect, priced pretty competitively – at around £250.  The ZD230?  The list price for the ZD230 is over £700.  Making it nearly twice the price ot the ZD420 – the ZD230’s big brother.  When I put that question to Zebra – they were unable to explain the difference.

With no commercial justification for the ZD230’s price – we can’t think of a reason to recommend it.

Summing Up the Differences Between Zebra's ZD220 and ZD230

 Zebra ZD220Zebra ZD230
InterfacesUSB onlyUSB
Print Speed100mm per second150mm per second
Ribbon Length74m length74m or 300m length

Further Help

Learn more about choosing a thermal label printer here.

Visit the Zebra ZD200 series page on Zebra’s website for more information.

Read about the differences between the Zebra ZD420 and ZD620

Contact us if you would like to buy your own ZD220.


Updated 14 Apr 2020

High Temperature Heat Proof Labels and Tags

Want quick help with your high temperature labelling project?

Our job is to get you moving on your high temperature labelling project.  Please tell us:

      • What temperature your labels need to operate at,
      • What size label you need,
      • How many labels you need and
      • What you want printed on them.

Click the Get Quote button below and let us know.

Get Quote

Heat resistant or high temperature labels and tags are labels (or tags) that can be used at temperatures up to 1250 degrees C. 

Typical uses include tracking metal products, use in ovens for food items, products through an autoclave process, ceramics and sanitary ware.

They come in different colours and finishes (gloss, silver metallic etc.). 

All can be pre-printed with a logo and text and can be overprinted with variable information such as serial numbers, batch codes or barcodes.

Not All High Temperature Labels are the Same

Applying Heatproof labels
Some labels need special applicators

High temperature labels (sometimes known as heat resistant or heatproof stickers) have different characteristics and won’t all perform the same way. 

For example, some label materials can withstand prolonged high temperatures whilst others will only work at high temperatures for short periods. 

Not all labels can be applied at high temperatures and thought needs to be given to how much rubbing or abrasion is likely to be encountered.

Heat resistant labels may also need to survive multiple reheating cycles. 

Another thing to bear in mind is how the labels are applied.  Some ultra-high temperature labels need special applicators. 

Finally, thermal transfer ribbons (inks) need to be carefully matched to the label and need to be tested.  For expert advice on what labels, tags and ribbons work best, and for a sample thermal transfer ribbon, contact us here. 

How much would I pay for High Temperature Labels?

Heat resistant labels are specialist products and in the case of labels needing to survive over 350 Deg C, tend to be expensive compared to standard labels.  Bear in mind the hidden costs of mis-identifying high value items, which can run into thousands of pounds, expect to pay around £1 per label or tag for labels to survive in the ultra-high temperature ranges.

Luckily, with more than 20 years experience using label and tag design software, we’re able to help you optimise the design of your labels, minimise wasted label space and ultimately reduce the cost of your high temperature labels and tags.

Keen to Test Some Labels?

Testing tags at 1000 Deg C

In order to help you make the right decision and choose the best value labels for your project, we’re able to provide UK-based companies with samples for testing. 

Click the button below or contact us with as much information (including photos if possible) about your project as you can. 

If your project is commercially sensitive, we’re happy to sign an NDA.

Test them on your products and under your conditions.  

We can then send you some suitable sample material (if you are located in the UK).

High Temperature Label Products

Material Type Temperature range Details
Treated Polyester labelsup to 250CThese labels, in gloss or matt can applied by hand and printed with a standard thermal transfer printer using a matched resin grade ribbon.

They can be printed in colour with logos and in a wide range of sizes.

These labels come in a range of specification suitable for different temperature ranges.
Polyimide adhesive labelsUp to 350C These labels can be applied by hand and are suitable for exposure to temperatures up to 350C for short periods.

The labels can be printed with a standard thermal transfer printer using a matched resin grade ribbon.
Aluminium foil base adhesive with inorganic topcoatup to 600CThis is an aluminium base material with a smudge proof inorganic coating and with a silicone adhesive for application at temperatures between room temperature and 450C.

A Special application method is needed.

This label has a thermal transfer topcoat and can be printed onto using a specialist thermal transfer ribbon.

Whilst this label can be stuck at temperatures up to 450C, it can withstand exposure to temperatures up to 600C.
Ceramic coated polymer film adhesive labelsUp to 1200CThese labels are specially made to order. They are designed to be stuck to metal, ceramic and glass surfaces.

They can be thermal transfer printed to give a permanent and durable image - resistant to chemicals, heat, shock and scratching. These specialist labels are heat resistant up to 1200 Deg C.

You are able to print onto them, with a specialist high grade resin based thermal ribbon.

Applying these labels needs a special technique.

There is a lead time of up to six weeks for these labels - and they come in limited sizes.
Non adhesive high temperature tag materialsUp to 1500CThese labels are made from a high temperature resistant polymer film or modified steel with thermal transfer printable inorganic coating.

These tags can be attached using ties (through a punched hole) or spot welded in place.

These are printable using a thermal transfer printer using a special high grade thermal ribbon. Heat resistant up to 1500C.

Availability of Heat Resistant labels

Many of our heat resistant labels, when combined with an approved thermal ink ribbon are automotive and UL approved.

Please remember, high temperature and heatproof labels are specialist labels and are not widely available.   There are a limited number of label dimensions available from stock.  Many of the ultra high temperature product has a six week lead time and comes in limited roll widths.

Please contact us to see what is available from stock.

Heat Resistant and High Temperature Labels
Heat Resistant Labels

Additionally we can make to order and over print for you,  but please bear in mind, whilst we are able to supply smaller quantities than most of our competitors, these high temperature materials are high cost and generally have minimum order quantities of at least 1000 labels.

We would be very pleased to discuss your project requirements so please contact us to find out more.

High Temperature and Heat Resistant Labels – Questions to Consider:

  • Why are the labels or tags being applied? (traceability, stock control or tracking)
  • What is the maximum temperature your label needs to survive?  For how long?
  • At what temperature will your label be applied?
  • Does the label or tag need to be heated and cooled many times?
  • What material will the label be attached to?
  • Will it be rubbed?
  • Will any chemicals be applied to the label?
  • What needs to be printed on the label?
  • How will the labels be applied to the item?

If you need high temperature labels, speak to one of our labelling experts today call 01359 271 111. Alternatively, if you are UK based, please request a sample pack by filling in the sample request form or email us from our contact us page.  Not all the label materials are available as samples.

To save yourself time, fill in the form at the link below and tell us about your high temperature project:

Tell us about your high temperature labelling project.

Some of our clients

Some of our better known clients

Updated: 7 Jul 2020

What’s the difference between Zebra’s ZT410 and ZT411

In late 2019 Zebra updated its ZT400 industrial printer range – the ZT410 has been replaced by the Zebra ZT411. To save you valuable time Expert Labels compares the differences between the two printers for you.

We’ll cover:

  • The new colour touch-screen.
  • Changes to the insides of the printer.
  • Connections at the rear of the printer.

See what improvements you’re getting when you buy a Zebra ZT411.

The ZT411 has a Big Beautiful Colour Touch Screen.

Having a large colour screen makes setting up the printer much easier – and for more complicated tasks – there are wizards to help. The wizards guide you step- by- step through configuring the printer. They even include animations to help you. (Animations and videos have been a feature of the Sato CL4NX printer for the past four years).

Wizards and animations mean operators who rarely touch the control panel can adjust settings without incurring cost and time waiting for specialist help (like contacting Expert Labels).

The ZT411 is fitted with a resistive touch screen so you can operate it with your bare hands, wearing gloves or with a stylus.

Zebra ZT411 Alert Screen

The colour screen makes it really obvious what the printer is doing, turning yellow for example, when the pause button is pressed.

The ZT411 has two USB sockets at the front of the printer – compared to just one for the ZT410. Plug in a USB scanner and USB drive, or a keyboard and scanner – slightly more useful than the ZT410.

Inside the Case

Zebra ZT410 interior lights

Not much has changed when you lift the bi-fold door on the printer. It still has the handy interior lighting – useful if the printer is hidden away under a desk or bench.

There’s a change to the sensors (both the transmissive and reflective) that detect the start and finish point on the labels and tags going through the printer. They’re now fully adjustable – making the ZT411 work with a wider range of labels or tags.

Printhead Element Failure Warning

One useful feature that’s making it’s debut on the ZT411 is printhead element failure warning. As you probably know, printheads fail after use. Hopfully after many years of service to you. However, it’s often difficult to see a failed element. The first you know of it is when a barcode fails to read. There are 8 elements per millimeter – so they are quite small. Using this feature you’re warned when an element fails.

Communication Ports

At the back of the printer are the communication ports – USB, Serial and Ethernet – nothing has changed there. There’s an option slot for more specialist communications such as the Applicator Port option (used when integrating it with print and apply systems). Wifi standards tend to change regularly so with the option slots it’s possible to have the latest (or most compatible) Wifi adaptor fitted to your printer.

Summing up – Zebra’s ZT410 vs ZT411

  • It’s all about the new screen – that’s the most dramatic update – and to be honest – is a large improvement.
  • Minor tweaks to the interior.
  • Small improvements to the front USB and rear communications options.

Further Help

The ZT411 (in its base form) just about sneaks into our ‘Best Industrial Thermal label printers for under £1,000’ post. See what else is on the list, and compare them click here.

Updated 28 Apr 2020

Zebra Printer ZT620

Best Industrial Thermal label printers for under £1,000

In this post you’ll be able to quickly compare the top industrial thermal label printers for under £1000.

This post includes:

  • Comparative printer prices.
  • An expert run down of the best features the printers have to offer
  • Printer shortcomings
  • Our opinion on what we think are the best printer purchases.

Weigh up the best label printer for your operation.

Read on.

Expert Labels work with all the major brands and many of the specialist brands so we’re able to find the best thermal label printers to suit your needs and your budget.   

See our recommendations at the bottom of the page. 

Updated February 2020.

What is an Industrial Thermal Label Printer?

An Industrial Thermal Label Printer is one that takes larger rolls of labels – typically 203mm in roll diameter – unlike the desktop models that only take 125mm rolls.  These printers also use ink ribbon rolls longer than 300m and usually print at speeds faster than 150mm (6″) per second. 

In short they are:

  • More robust,
  • Need fewer label and ink ribbon changes and
  • Will give years of service with larger volumes of daily printing.

A note on prices – please contact us for up to date prices – as prices change weekly.  Prices have been included for comparison purposes.  Prices exclude VAT.

Download and Print The List as PDF

Download a printable pdf summarising our recommendations and analysis here.

Datamax-O'Neil M-Class Mark II M-4206

Datamax-O'Neil M-Class Mark II M-4206
Datamax-O'Neil - now Honeywell - have decades of experience with Thermal printers - gaining a popular and dependable reputation.

* This printer comes with Serial/Parallel/USB as standard. Ethernet LAN interfaces are an option.

* Modular design so you can upgrade it without specialist tools or skills.

* Quality die cast aluminium frame and case. Lightweight and strong.

* LCD screen for easier set up.

* Thermal transfer and direct thermal in one printer.

* 300m or 450m ribbon lengths - for fewer ribbon changes.

* 200mm label roll diameters for fewer roll changes.

* Includes a 1 year warranty including printhead (unless it's printed more than 24KM of labels).
Honeywell/Datamax seem to have lost their way recently. They didn't even have the correct printer image on their website.

* Doesn't have a network connection as standard.

* No bundled label design software.

* No colour or touch screen display on this model.

* Not as widely stocked as most printers.
£689.70More info
Sato CL4NX
Sato CL4NX Label Printer
Sato are a huge brand in Asia, but haven't been as successful in Europe (yet). Sato are well established, with a competent and helpful support centre in the UK.

* Lots of connections - Bluetooth, USB, Ethernet, Parallel and serial.

* Large, colour LCD display that plays videos to help you with common tasks.

*10" label roll capacity compared with 8" with almost everyone else.

* 104mm print width.

* Powerful programming language - so it can print without a computer, communicates with the cloud and integrates with scales and other devices.

* Tough cast Aluminium frame and metal case.

* Space saving bi-fold door.

* Fast printing - up to 254mm/sec.

*Comes with a free version of NiceLabel Label design software

Top quality high performance printer at a competitive price.
Not many shortcomings.

* Not as widely available as other models.
£999.99More info
Zebra ZT230
Zebra ZT230 Metal Cased Industrial Label Printer
* Comes with Zebra’s reputation for quality and ease of use.

* Market leading brand with widespread support and availability of printers and consumables.

* Solid, durable construction.

* Bi-fold door to save space

* Thermal Transfer and Direct thermal

* Up to 450m ribbon capacity

* Excellent aftercare cover (at extra cost)

* Versatile internal printer software (ZebraLink) for programming and support

*104mm print width

* Comes with Zebra Designer label design software included for free.
* No Ethernet connection as standard.

* Average print speed – 152mm per second.
£728More info
honeywell-datamax-i-4212e-mark II thermal printer
Honeywell I-Class Mark II I-4212e Industrial Label Printer (Datamax-O'Neil)
Datamax-O'Neil - now Honeywell - have decades of experience with Thermal printers - gaining a popular and dependable reputation.

* Made from Cast Aluminium for long last reliability.

* Uses internal gears instead of belts - for more reliability.

* This printer is twice as fast as entry level industrial printers

* Has the Option of SDIO, Wifi, Ethernet and GPIO communications ports.

* Modular design so you can upgrade it without specialist tools or skills.

* LCD screen for easier set up

* Thermal transfer and direct thermal in one printer

* 300m or 450m ribbon lengths - for fewer ribbon changes.

* 200mm label roll diameters for fewer roll changes

* Includes a 1 year warranty including printhead (unless it's printed more than 24KM of labels).
* Slightly dated, more than 7 years old.

* No colour, touch screen

* Doesn't have the support that Zebra has
£804More info
TEC B-EX4T1 Industrial label Printer
Toshiba TEC B-EX4T1 Industrial Barcode Label Printer
* Super-fast - 14 inches per second. Fastest printer for less than £1000

* USB and Ethernet as standard.

* Ribbon-save - stops the ribbon feeding if there's nothing to print.

* Near edge printhead - lasts longer, copes with thicker labels and tags.

* 800m ribbon - yes - 800m! Nearly twice the length of the competition - so you can leave it unattended longer.

* Attention to detail - so it's easy to use.

* Energy efficient printer - from a company that has offset all it's carbon emissions.
* Uses a higher grade of thermal ribbon (so slightly more expensive).

* Smaller distribution base so stock and support less widespread
£999More info
Toshiba TEC B-EX4T2
Toshiba TEC B-EX4T2 Low Cost Industrial Barcode Label Printer
* Toshiba Tec's high quality build.

* Can print up to 12 inches per second.

* Uses a 'flat' printhead like 95% of other thermal printers - so ribbons are cheaper and more widely available.

* Thermal Transfer or Direct thermal only models.

* 600m thermal ribbons mean fewer ribbon changes.

* 200mm outside diameter label roll means fewer label changes

* Network (Ethernet) is standard, as well as USB
* Fewer distributors so availability might be a problem.

* LCD display looks a little dated as it's not colour or touch sensitive.
£807.89More info
Printronix t6000

Printronix T6000 Thermal Label Printer
* Nice large colour LCD display that provide instructions on how to use set up the printer.

* Really fast - up to 14" per second - and maintains print quality.

* Comes with ethernet (network) as standard.

* Has remote diagnostic software to warn if there are problems, enable configuration and remote management

*Widely available printer ribbons

* Option of a Barcode check camera that stops the printer if there's an error in the label
* Not widely available - limited distribution (and therefore stock)
£989.70More info
Honeywell PM42

Honeywell PM42 Industrial Label Printer
* Latest printer in a long line of industrial label printers from Honeywell.

* Speedy printing at up to 300mm per second.

* 203dpi, 300dpi and 400dpi models in the PM42 range.

* Comes with Serial, USB and Ethernet as standard.

* Durable metal case and frame.

* Colour display panel

* Internet connected - so it can be remotely managed and monitored.
* Slightly smaller screen than other printers

* Not as widely available as other printer brands.
£702.40More info
Zebra ZT411
Zebra ZT411 4 inch Industrial Label Printer
Latest, improved, industrial printer from Zebra, the dominant manufacturer of thermal label printers in the world.

* Super fast - 14" (350mm) per second print speed.

* 203 to 600 dots per inch print resolution options.

* Uses 450m ink ribbons – means fewer ribbon changes.

* Comes with Ethernet and bluetooth connectivity as standard – in addition to USB and Serial.

* Large colour touch screen

* Easy to change printhead and platen roller

* Metal case and space saving bi fold door

* Built-in printer management and security software

* Excellent support options - telephone support, return to workshop and on site options

* Readily available stock (usually)
It's very difficult to find fault with this printer.

* Other brands can be found at lower prices

* Doesn't have ribbon save like some TEC printers

* If you're over-printing multipage booklet labels the thickness of these printers is limited compared to Sato printers.
£999.99More info
TSC MH240 Industrial printer

TSC MH240 Series Mid-range Industrial Printer
* TSC make printers for other better known brands – so you’re getting the same quality for a better price.

* The MH-240 is fast – printing at 14 inches (350mm) per second.

* Comes with 200, 300 and 600 dots per inch print resolution options.

* Comes with Ethernet network connection as standard.

* 600m thermal ink ribbon.

* Comes with "ribbon & label running low' warning device - so you can prepare to change the ribbons and labels before it runs out

* Comes with an SD card slot

* Optional large colour touch screen display

* Metal case and frame with a bi-fold door for use in small spaces

* Comes with a Two year warranty
* Limited distribution network.

* Doesn't seem to have the remote management and security software that other brands have.

* Doesn't come with label design software but can be used with BarTender's free edition.

* 600m thermal ribbon lengths are rare and might need to be made up specially, though you can use more commonly available 450m rolls
£959.40More info
TEC BA410 printer
Toshiba TEC BA400
TEC have been making printers for decades and the BA400 is the next generation of a proven design, but launched late 2019 with updates.

* Metal case

* Unique design with a top that hinges up so labels can drop straight in. Useful if you don't have space at the sides of your printer.

* Bluetooth and Ethernet as standard

* 200mm per second print speed - a little faster than the other entry level industrial printers.

* Near Field Communication - for ease of printing from mobile devices.

*Optional 5G wifi

* Comes with BarTender Ultralite label design software - BarTender limited to TEC printers.
* Stock availability not as good as other brands.

* No colour touch screen as with some of the industrial printers.
£778.05More info

Best Industrial Thermal Label Printers – Our Recommendations

For value for money and price performance the Sato CL4NX is hard to beat.  Take a look in detail at our write up on the printer here.  The version we reviewed a few years ago has only got better.  It’s clean design, attention to detail and powerful software means it’s a tough printer to beat. 

The Printronix T6000 is an excellent label printer.  It’s super fast, produces excellent print quality and comes with powerful remote management and configuration software.  That software can email you if your printer needs attention.  The Printtronix is one of a few printers available that can be fitted (at extra cost) with a camera that monitors the quality of each label printed.  If barcode readability is critical to your business then this is a must – the moment a label stops scanning – the printer will pause to allow you to fix the problem.

No list would be complete without the market leader.  Zebra printers are widely available, well supported and cover almost every possible application.  Which model you choose depends on how many labels you print and what interfaces you need. 

Get Information

Useful Links

Read our review of the best label printers for around £300 here.

Updated 17 Feb 2020.

Thermal Ribbon Cartridge Printer

Thermal Transfer Cartridge Printers.

I’ve not been keen on the idea of thermal transfer cartridge printers.  Cartridge printers use a roll of thermal ink ribbon in the form of a plastic cartridge. If you want to change a thermal ribbon, simply pull out the used ribbon cartridge and put in a new one.  No threading thermal transfer ribbons.  No need to clip cores into the printer.

I’ve not been keen because I’ve always felt uncomfortable being tied in to a specific supplier or manufacturer. I’ve been concerned we couldn’t get hold of a full range of ribbon materials – including different colours.  I’ve felt the benefits didn’t really amount to much – but I’ve changed my mind.

What’s so good about a thermal transfer cartridge printer?

Simply: it’s so quick and easy to use.  Anyone can change a ribbon in a fraction of the time it usually takes.  Take a look at this video an you’ll see just how easy it is to use.

Zebra’s ZD420 Thermal transfer cartridge printer

The only cartridge printer available today is Zebra’s ZD420.  

Zebra ZD420
The Zebra ZD420

The cartridge model is one of Zebra’s ZD420 family of printers – the others being a healthcare model, a standard roll fed model and a direct thermal model. 

It quickly established itself as a popular and easy to use desktop label printer since it’s launch in 2016. 

Where you’d use a cartridge printer

We’ve been working with a company that has untrained volunteers  printing labels on demand for customers.

Imagine you have a competition. You’re labelling clients’ bags before transporting them to the end point. You have a couple of volunteer staff looking after clients, entering data, putting bags in a van and looking after the printers.

There’s a small queue of customers and suddenly the ribbon runs out. Your volunteer has never changed a roll of ribbon and has barely seen a thermal printer before.  He tries to figure it out for himself. He looks at the diagram on the printer, he asks his colleague and he even asks the people waiting. Then he gives it a go.

Five minutes later the ribbon is changed – but it’s been a struggle, it takes time and it prevents staff from looking after their customers.

With a cartridge printer he’d have opened the printer, unwrapped the cartridge, pulled out the old one and slotted in the new one. All done in a matter of seconds – without the need for training. No need to look at instructions.

Ribbon Cartridge Size Options

Zebra Thermal Printer Cartridge
Zebra Thermal Printer Cartridge

This is where the ribbon cartridge struggles, compared with standard ribbons. There are only three different cartridges available – Wax, Wax resin and Resin. All ribbons are 110mm wide and 74m long.

All thermal cartridge ribbons are black.

In the past twenty years I imagine we have only sold a few dozen boxes of coloured ribbons, so the limited colour range is unlikely to affect many of you.

Another big downside – the cost of a ribbon cartridge is around twice as much as a standard Zebra ribbon, at around £5 per cartridge. If you are printing a 100mm x 100mm paper label, that still only works out at 0.7p per label for ink.

Summing up – Thermal Transfer Cartridge Printers

  • Extremely convenient and fast – minimises downtime and customer inconvenience
  • No training needed – anyone can quickly use the printer
  • Limited range of ribbons – not a problem if that suits the label or tag you’re printing
  • Expensive in comparison to standard ribbons.

Further Help

Want to know more about cartridge printers? Want to buy a cartridge printer or cartridges? Contact us here or complete our form below.

Useful links

Learn more about Zebra’s ZD420 printer on the Zebra website.

Updated 11 Jan 2020

Biodegradable Labels

Guide to Biodegradable Labels

With plastic doing so much harm to our environment – more and more of us are looking at biodegradable packaging to minimise damage.  This guide to biodegradable labels will help you in your small but significant contribution to the war on plastic.

How can you, as someone who buys labels for your product packaging, meet your customers demands and use biodegradable labels to reduce environmental damage?

Biodegradable labels is a complicated subject and to fully understand it, you’ll need to read all of this guide.  Even though these labels will biodegrade there are practical things to consider from the point of view of the packaging and the local authority that handles your customers’ household waste.

What are Biodegradable Labels?

First: biodegradable labels are not labels that are made from plant-sourced or sustainable materials.  It is possible to make labels from plant sources (such as sugar-cane) that are NOT biodegradable (though they may be recyclable).

Biodegradable labels are labels that will be broken down by nature – fungus, bacteria, natural chemicals and plants.

Technically everything is broken down by nature – even plastic – the real question is:

  • how long it takes,
  • what conditions it breaks down under and
  • what it breaks down into (or what gasses it emits) during the process.

There are no standards we are aware of for biodegradable labels – though there are for compostable labels.  We’ll look at compostable labels below.

Oxo-biodegradable plastics

Some biodegradable labels have a chemical added to them that needs to be exposed to oxygen or water to trigger the decomposition process.  These oxo-biodegradables create micro-plastics that are considered harmful and therefore not a good alternative to standard plastics.  

Oxo-plastic labels can’t gain compostable EN13432 certification.

None of our biodegradable range of labels are made with Oxo-biodegradable plastics.

Available Biodegradable labels

Despite the importance of biodegradable labels in the news, the industry has been slow to catch up.

Biodegradable Paper Labels
Biodegradable Paper Labels

Sourcing biodegradable label material isn’t easy.  We are able only to supply labels made from four types of biodegradable label material at the moment.

  • Matt biodegradable paper
  • Gloss biodegradable paper
  • Gloss biodegradable white film and
  • Clear biodegradable film

The Compostable Standard

Industrial composting
Industrial composting

Composting is the breakdown of materials into the soil.  The good thing about composting is that there is a standard to measure against. 

Other forms of Biodegradablility (such as into the air or water) don’t have such a standard. 

The most widely accepted standard for composting is the European compostable packaging standard (EN13432).

Labels that meet the EN13432 standard break down into water, CO2 and new cell biomass.

To meet the standard they have to do so within six months. 

Something to consider, however, are the conditions under which the composting takes place.

Importantly, the standard requires the label not to generate any harmful by-products.  Particular attention is paid to potentially toxic elements.

A key part of the European standard is that after 12 weeks, 90% of the material is in pieces smaller than 2mm.

Compostable logo displayed on Biodegradable labels
Compostable logo

If the material passes all the criteria then it can display the Compostable logo.

EN13432 applies to industrial composting as opposed to home composting.

The difference between home composting and Industrial or commercial composting are the conditions the process is done under.

For example, industrial composting is tested at 58C, home composting is typically around 30C.

There are no international standards for home composting.

The European EN13432 standard includes the glue, label and ink.  

Contamination of waste by biodegradable plastic labels is a problem

Despite their eco-friendly credentials, biodegradable plastic labels are a problem for home and municipal waste disposal. 

Biodegradable plastic can’t be recycled with standard plastics.  If they are included with plastic they will contaminate it.  As they are not paper they will contaminate paper as well. 

They can’t be disposed of with food waste because they take longer to biodegrade (unless they are put through an industrial composting process).

In many local authorities, biodegradable plastic labels go to landfill, and whilst they will breakdown more rapidly than standard plastics, and won’t leave any toxic residues, they may contribute to powerful greenhouse gasses such as methane.

Identifying Biodegradable plastic labels

Even with the biggest ‘Compostable’ logos, it’s practically impossible for human or machine sorters to recognise biodegradable labels from normal plastic labels. 

Generally speaking standard plastic contamination in garden or food waste is a big problem in composting.  Local authorities are particularly sensitive to plastic contamination.  If they see any plastic – biodegradable plastic labels or standard plastic labels in organic waste, it will be rejected and sent to landfill or burned.

Only put Biodegradable Labels on Biodegradable packaging

It’s no good putting biodegradable stickers onto product that isn’t biodegradable.  A biodegradable label on a glass bottle is a waste of money.

Not only does the packaging need to be biodegradable – it needs to look biodegradable.  If it doesn’t look biodegradable waste handlers will send it to landfill where it will break down slowly.

Currently, the only combination of stickers and packaging that look biodegradable are paper stickers on cardboard packaging.

Conclusion – Use Paper or Recycleable Plastic

It’s impossible to say what conditions labels will be disposed (or discarded) under. 

Biodegradable plastics might not degrade as completely and as quickly as we want them to.   If they go through the waste disposal system (as hopefully the bulk of them will) they might cause more problems than they solve.

My recommendation is to use paper labels, without any plastic coating and with an adhesive that will break down without leaving any harmful by-products.  What we describe as a biodegradable paper label.

If you are using plastic packaging, I hope (and expect) most of your packaging will be disposed of responsibly.  Use material that can be recycled and use a recyclable label not a biodegradable plastic sticker.

  Carelessly discarded Disposed of properly
Plastic packaging Biodegradable paper labels Recycled plastic labels
Paper or card packaging Biodegradable paper labels Biodegradable paper labels

We want to help you improve our environment.

We are as keen to improve our environment as you are and want to help.  This guide to biodegradable labels is only a start.  Please pick up the phone and call 01359 271 111, click on the chat button on the right of this screen or contact us and ask us how we can help you help our environment.

Useful links

The concise guide to compostable packaging and products – EN 2013432 – by the Association for Organics Recycling:

See our range of environmentally friendly labels here:

Biodegradable labels

Sustainable labels

Recyclable labels

Here’s a definition of biodegradation on Wikipedia:

Updated 28 Dec 2019

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Labels on recycled plastic bottles

Guide to Recycling Labels

Recyclable Labels

According to The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the recycling rate for UK homes has risen to 45% of all household waste in 2017.  Whilst we are all recycling more, are we recycling our labels properly?

Let’s talk about recyclable labels for a moment. What can you, as someone who buys labels for your product packaging, do to ensure your customer’s recycled labels aren’t contaminating recycled waste.

Official Advice on Recycling Labels

The official advice is remove your labels – but no one will do that in reality.   The solution: to stop contamination is to match the label material to the packing material.  That means that the labels need to be made from the same material as the packaging.

One other consideration is adhesive.  We thought adhesive might be a problem so we asked the experts.  According to Suffolk based metal and waste recycling specialists, Sackers Ltd, label adhesive is a small problem and is processed easily.  High volumes of labels (i.e. a skip full) could not be put through the recycling process and would need to be burned for energy.

There is no need to remove labels from items, the recycling process can handle them.

Advice from Sackers Ltd was: if in doubt put it out for recycling – anything that can’t be recycled is burned to produce energy.  This piece of advice needs to be taken with care, as each UK local authority has different waste to energy capabilities.

If you want help matching labels to packaging call us for advice.

Labels on Glass Bottles and Jars

So despite this rule of matching labels to packaging – you might have noticed – not many labels are made from glass.  So what do we do about labelling bottles?

Our advice – apply a paper label.  If your customer’s recycling process involves washing first – then the labels will be washed off.  If it is crushed then put in a furnace, the labels and glue will burn off.

Which Labels can be Recycled?

Paper Labels

Paper Labels
Paper labels

Paper labels can only be recycled with paper or board packaging.

If your paper labels are placed on plastic bottles ask for a ‘wash off’ adhesive to make the recycling process much easier.

Even if your paper labels are blended with other materials, it could still be placed in the recycling bin as it can be burned and used for energy.

The only thing that cannot be recycled is a label stuck to film, unfortunately, this will end up in landfill.

Plastic labels

Labels are usually made from Polypropylene (PP) or Polyethylene (PE).  Luckily, most packaging material is made from PP and PE.  Both can be recycled together.

Make Label Recycling Easy for Your Customers

If you are buying labels from us, this is what you can do to improve recycling.

  • Match the correct label material to your product packaging.  For example: paper labels onto paper or cardboard packaging and PE or PP labels on PE and PP packaging.

Recycling labels - paper labels on cardboard
Paper labels on cardboard

  • If you have correctly matched your labels and packaging, tell your product consumers to leave the labels on, clean any bottles or containers and put them into the recycling bin.
  • Clearly print the Recycling logo on your packaging.
  • Do not apply compostable labels to plastic or glass packaging that can be recycled.
  • Ask customers not to put compostable labels into the recycle bin.

Recycling Label Backing Paper

Label backing material
Label backing material

Label backing paper is made to be strong enough to be pulled through printing presses but it’s also designed to be translucent, so the sensors in the printer can see the gaps between labels.

Because it needs to be strong, backing paper is not a good material to make from recycled paper.

Backing paper is also coated in non-stick silicon which makes it less desirable for recycling.  There is a recycling company, here in the UK, who takes backing paper and label waste, but sadly, it just gets turned into energy.

Laminated labels

Paper labels are sometimes coated in plastic to give them durability.

Laminated Labels
Laminated Labels

These types of labels cannot be recycled.  They can be burned and used in energy recovery programmes.

Useful links

See our range of environmentally friendly labels here:


The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)’s Blog – highlighting recycling rates in 2017/18

Sustainable Labels

There is a lot of talk about limiting the harm we’re doing to our environment.  Being sustainable is the ability to live without depleting our natural resources.  Modern packaging is often held up as a culprit in the damage we are doing to our environment.  This article will help you understand how sustainable labels really are.

Sustainability is both the materials the labels are made from and the process the labels are made under.

There are always two sides to many of the points raised in this article.  For example: the forests grown in order to make paper are good for capturing CO2 but, as they are usually grown in large single species plantations – this can be bad for bio-diversity.  I’m not writing this article to promote one side or the other in this debate.  Our business is focused on labels – but we all depend on the environment for our survival as a species.

Paper label manufacturing

The paper making process uses water, wood and energy and leads to water and air pollution.  Paper manufacturing accounts for up to 5% of pollution in North America.  In the last few decades paper mills have reduced their pollution significantly and I’m sure technology  and innovation will reduce the environmental impact further, however paper isn’t without it’s harmful byproducts.

paper mill
Pollution from paper mills

Water is the ultimate recycled product.  Should we worry about water use in paper making?  If it’s cleaned and returned to rivers and lakes, water consumption in paper making isn’t a problem.

Paper’s main raw material – wood – is renewable and good for CO2 capture. 

Mono-culture forest
Mono-culture forest for paper production

Energy use – Whilst paper product uses huge amounts of energy, most of it is sourced from bio-mass energy generation.

All the labels we supply are paper or plastic. 

All the paper we supply comes from sustainable sources (i.e trees that are farmed as opposed to tropical rainforest).  However, paper is usually made using chemicals that are harmful to the environment.  

Chlorine is used in the paper making process – to whiten the paper.  As you would probably guess, Chlorine is toxic and, as a by-product of paper production, is harmful to the environment.  Our standard paper label material uses chlorine, though the same chlorine compound is used to treat drinking water. 

Sustainable Paper Labels

Standard paper labels are made from virgin paper with chlorine bleaching. Paper is sustainable, but the paper production process has a significantly damaging effect on the environment

We are able to supply a recycled paper label that is chlorine free, with a wood free backing paper (the paper that the labels are stuck to on the roll).  Interestingly people rarely ask for recycled paper labels and the availability of the material is limited.  Contact us and ask us about recycled paper labels.

Plastic Labels

Most of the labels we supply are made from Polypropylene (PP) or Polyethylene (PE).

This type of plastic label is made from oil, but is easily recycled.  The most recent figures I found for the proportion of plastic that’s recycled was from 2008 and 21% of plastic was recycled. 

However, plastic labels are not biodegradable (unless you count hundreds of years as biodegradable), are harmful to nature and are non-renewable. 

From a marketing point of view, plastic labels are not popular.

Sustainable BioPlastic Labels

More popular BioPlastic label materials are PP and PE labels made from corn, coconut or potato.  These starch-based plastics are sometimes compostable.  They are not widely available and relatively expensive, but we are able to supply you with them. 

The best we can obtain is 83% sugar cane derived material, 17% oil-based.  Contact us for a quote.

Clear and white plastics made from wood pulp – cellulose – if made from sustainable forestry products are an extremely eco-responsible way of making labels. 

There are cellulose based labels available, though they are water soluble, so not suitable for long term storage in wet places (i.e. not good for products destined for bathrooms). 

Not only are these labels sustainable – some are also biodegradable.  See our biodegradable range here.

Useful links

Wikipedia’s article on the environmental impact of paper:

British Plastics Federation (perhaps a little biased – but it quotes the recycling rate of plastic)

Bioplastics Article at ‘Explain that stuff’: