Color labels cost too much” or something similar is probably the most common objections I hear from people. Most people “know” that monochrome thermal transfer labels are much less expensive than print on-demand color labels.
As background, I decided to gain a better understanding in the differences between the types of thermal transfer ribbons; wax, wax/resin and resin. This Wikepedia entry covers the basics; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_transfer_printing.
* Wax ribbons are for printing onto paper labels. These labels must be kept dry and must not be abraded or subjected to certain chemicals or oil, which would dissolve the wax image.
* Wax/resin ribbons produce a finer image on very smooth paper or coated paper labels. The printed image is much more durable than wax, but can still only stand slight contact with water.
* Pure resin ribbons are formulated to print onto plastic labels such as polyester, polypropylene and vinyl. The "ink" is designed to slightly dissolve into or adhere to the plastic surface of the label and becomes extremely durable, depending on the plastic material and ribbon used.
To look at the cost of ribbons, I found on the Zebra website at http://www.zebra.com/us/en/products-services/supplies/ribbons.html#finderInit=z-series a list of recommended ribbons for the ZM400. From this page, you can click "Buy Ribbon Supplies" to get the price of these products. From this page, I found the other consumable cost for thermal transfer printers; print heads.
For the thermal transfer ribbons and printhead, the cost per MSI ranged from $0.31 for the standard wax ribbon to $2.71 for the premium resin ribbon.
When adding in the costs per MSI for the laser and inkjet printers, you’ll find the costs of many of the monochrome thermal transfer printers are actually higher.
Based on this analysis, if you or your customers are using resin or wax/resin ribbons, you may save money by switching to the Epson TM-C3400 or the new GP-C831. Assuming the type of coverage depicted in the ISO charts, the new GP-C831 may be the least expensive means to print labels on-demand, either monochrome or color.
After reviewing this analysis, you may want to rethink the actual cost of thermal transfer printing; and adding color may not be that much more expensive. If interested in learning more about the cost of printing or adding color to labels, give me a call to discuss.