Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Trust Me!

Recently, I received an email stating that I had “MISLEAD” people on my blog post, “Thermal Transfer vs Inkjet” that I posted February, 2013 (  In this post, I compared the ink costs of thermal transfer, laser and inkjet label printers to produce ISO Standard Documents.

According to the person who contacted me, I overstated the costs of ribbons by “100% to 300%”.  “By using ribbon prices from Zebra, the industry leading manufacturer of thermal transfer printers, you did not reflect accurately the “market prices” of thermal transfer printers” stated the person.  Continuing, the person wrote, “Zebra commands a dominate market position; therefore can charge 100% to 400% higher prices than other ribbon resellers.” 

Given the prices on the site, this person suggested I use prices from Uline to better reflect real market prices:

 In addition, this person stated I had used old information concerning the price increases in thermal transfer ribbons.  In my previous post, I referred to statements from VDC and IIMAK in 2011 about potential price increases on thermal transfer ribbons.  In my post, I wrote, “It seems the same films used in thermal transfer ribbons are being used in more profitable applications such as flat screen displays.  VDC predicts users may switch to a different technology away from thermal transfer.”

After reading this email, I realized that I had just received another good idea for a post to my blog.  I decided to update the calculations using the Uline prices; as well as confirm the latest Zebra ribbon prices (the ribbon prices on had not changed) and add the prices for the black and red resin ribbons for the CAB Two-Tone printer that Color Label Solution sells.

As a refresher, I utilized 5 standard ISO documents to determine the cost per page of the selected laser printers.  To learn more about this analysis, review my earlier post: the inkjet printers, Epson estimated the yield to print the 5 documents to calculate the cost per page.  For the thermal transfer ribbons, the cost is a function of the size of page.

After adding the Uline prices, confirming the Zebra ribbon prices, and inserting the prices for the black and red ribbons for the CAB two tone printers, here is the new cost comparison in terms of MSI (thousand square inches):

Ink Cost/ MSI Of Various Label Printer Technologies
Based on these latest results, my interpretation seems to remain the same.  First, the cost to print using the TM-C3500 or GP-C831 is not significantly different than thermal transfer printers (assuming ISO standard coverage).  Second, if you need to use resin ribbon to meet your durability needs or the BS5609 requirements for marine shipments, the ink costs from the TM-C3500 or GP-C831 may be less. 

In addition to the previous two interpretations, I added a new observation from my analysis; if you want to use thermal transfer ribbons to produce GHS labels, contact Color Label Solutions.  The ribbon prices for the CAB two-tone printer from Color Label Solutions is much better than the resin ribbon prices from either Zebra or Uline.

In my analysis, please remember one key caveat:  Coverage.  If you look at the ISO standard documents, coverage may be less than the coverage utilized in your labels.

For the inkjet and laser estimates, the costs increase substantially with increased coverage.  For thermal transfer, however, the costs remain the same whether the coverage is 1% or 100%.  Therefore, you may have a lower ink costs by using thermal transfer printers when print coverage is high.

Also, please remember this analysis is only for ink costs.  Label media costs differ among the three technologies as well.  I plan to compare the cost of labels for all three types of printers in an upcoming post.

All three technologies may be used to produce GHS Labels.  Check out Color Label Solutions for different options to meet your GHS label requirements: #GHSLABELS

If you need help deciding which technology to utilize for your labels, contact Color Label Solutions (  We’ll find the best solution to meet your requirements. #COLORLABELS.

Guy Mikel

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