In this post you’ll be able to quickly compare the top industrial thermal label printers for around £1000.
This post includes:
Weigh up the best label printer for your operation.
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 July 2021.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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) ||£2539.70|
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.
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
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.
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.