Thermal Barcode Printing Solutions for Manufacturing

Thermal barcode printers are useful in many businesses, but especially so for those in the manufacturing industry. These industrial-grade printers, with their rugged construction, are perfect for business-critical labeling applications – and for tracking inventory throughout the entire manufacturing process.

How Thermal Printing Works

Thermal barcode printers used in manufacturing employ thermal transfer technology. This technology works by using a thermal print head to melt a layer of wax- or resin-based ink from a ribbon onto paper or some other substance. When heat and pressure from the print head are applied to the ribbon, the coating melts and adheres to the label beneath. When the label cools, it produces a durable image that is difficult to smudge or remove.

Thermal printing is used in many different applications. Because it can be applied to a variety of different materials, including polyester and nylon, it's often used to print labels directly onto clothing and other products. Thermal printing can be done in a variety of colors, which makes it ideal for printing logos and other graphics.

In the manufacturing process, thermal printing is used to print barcodes on special thermal transfer paper. These labels can then be applied to boxes or directly to components or manufactured products.

Thermal barcode printers are available for a variety of label sizes and print volumes, although 4-inch-wide labels are most common. Choose a higher-volume printer capable of non-stop printing, for the most demanding industrial applications.

Manufacturing Applications for Thermal Barcode Printing

Thermal barcode printers are designed to produce crisp and clear high-resolution barcodes. For many manufacturers, thermal barcode printing solves the thorny problem of inventory management for both components and completed goods.

Thermal printed barcodes can track individual components during the manufacturing process, thus assisting in asset and inventory management. They are also used to label finished products and create shipping labels. A thermal barcode printer can print any quantity of labels as required, from a single label to thousands of labels for a big product run.

Manufacturers use thermal printed barcodes for a variety of applications, including:

  • Cross-docking materials from one shipping service to another
  • Receiving component parts
  • Tracking work-in-process products
  • Shipping completed products
  • Labeling orders
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Managing documents and records
  • Managing returns and reverse logistics

In short, thermal barcodes are useful for any manufacturing situation where a label can help track a product or process. This explains why the market for thermal printing is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.4% over the next five years.

Benefits of Thermal Barcode Printing for Manufacturing

Why use thermal barcode labels instead of barcodes printed via other methods? It comes down to quality and durability.

Print Quality

Thermal printing creates labels of consistently high print quality, with 203 DPI or greater. This makes the process ideal for the printing high-resolution barcodes required in the manufacturing industry.


Thermal labels are durable than standard ink labels. They hold up well in high temperatures, don't fade in sunlight, and don't smudge when water, oil, and other substances are spilled on them.


Industrial-grade thermal barcode printers are ruggedly built to withstand the demands of the busy manufacturing floor. Thermal printing technology itself uses a limited number of moving parts, making it extremely reliable over the long term.


Thermal printers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be installed on tables, on carts, or in vehicles. Smaller units can even be mobile or wearable. In addition, since thermal printing is not dependent on orientation, it can be mounted upside-down as well as right-side up.

Fast Print Speeds

Thermal printers are ideal for companies that need to print high volumes of barcode labels. Thermal labels print in milliseconds rather than seconds, like laser or inkjet printers – up to 6 one-inch labels per second.

Ease of Use

Once initially configured, a thermal barcode printer is extremely easy to use. All an operator has to do is turn it on and off and feed paper into the machine.

Low Maintenance

Thermal printers have few moving parts to break or wear out, which means they're less likely to suffer jams or breakdowns. They require less maintenance and service than traditional printers.

Fewer Supplies

A thermal printer has no ink cartridges or toner cartridges to replace. The only supplies required are thermal transfer ribbons and rolls of thermal paper – which you can purchase directly from James Imaging Solutions.

Low Cost Per Page

Because a thermal printer uses no toner or ink, it has a low cost-per-page that is the same no matter how much print is on a label.

Turn to James Imaging for Your Thermal Printing Needs

James Imaging Systems has been providing printers and managed print services to Wisconsin businesses since 1977. We offer thermal barcode printers from Toshiba and Zebra, as well as print management services for businesses of all types.

Contact James Imaging Systems today to learn more about scan to cloud and document management services!