Print Head Care and Maintenance Tips

by Bob Bruner 12. November 2008 09:25

I continue to be amazed by companies that will spend several thousand dollars for a barcode printer and place the unit in operation without explaining to the operator the proper care and maintenance of the printer’s most expensive component- the thermal print head. This consumable on average costs $450 and can reach upwards of $800 depending on the printer model. Don’t be caught looking in the trash bin at the harmonica sized piece of aluminum and glass that just cost you $500 to replace after just 2 months of use. See the samples below of a print head that is not properly cared for:


This can be avoided by a few easy steps and proper service. 

1)    Clean the print head and platen roller at every ribbon change with a lint free cloth and a 90% isopropyl solution. More frequently if the unit is operated in a dirty environment.

2)    Be sure to remove all rings or jewelry when working near the print head. If the glass etching gets scratched, remember you’ll be caught staring at the bottom of the garbage bin.

3)    Use approved media in your printing application. Operators frequently compensate for an improperly matched ribbon and label by increasing print head temperature or excessive head pressure which leads to premature failure of the thermal head.

4)    Be sure to keep your ribbons and labels wrapped and stored in a clean area before usage. It only takes a small piece of airborne dirt to attach to a ribbon and label and then pass under the print head to scratch the glass etching.

5)    Lastly, if you do need a print head replaced, be sure to have the printer serviced by a certified technician. Proper adjustments and thorough cleaning by a trained technician can extend the life of your print head.  For further information on print head care visit:


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service | label printers | repair


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RACO is a value added reseller of barcode scanners, barcode printers, RFID, data collection equipment and wireless technology.

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