Big Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Label Printer

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Are your printers still performing at their peak?

It’s commonplace for many businesses to use the same label printer for many years, and sometimes for well over a decade. After all, if your printer is getting the job done and it’s been a reliable workhorse, why spend money to replace it with a new one?

If you’re in that situation, then congratulations! You’ve had quite a good run with your current printer. But if you’re not getting the same label printing performance you did years ago, and you’re starting to encounter problems with your hardware, it could be time to replace your printer.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some common signs it’s time to inspect your label printer and refurbish or replace it. It’s important to know these warning signs so you can stay ahead of quality issues and keep your operations moving seamlessly.

1. Print Quality Issues

It’s always important for labels to have good print quality, so they can be read and scanned without any issues. In many situations, crisp and clear printing is also important for branding, quick visual identification, sorting, or conveying important safety information on labeled assets, products or shipments.

However, aging printers can start having issues with inconsistent, blurry, or grainy print. Sometimes this is due to a lack of proper preventative maintenance and cleaning, which can remove contaminants and accumulated material, allowing you to get back to a desired clear, crisp, and vibrant printing. However, if your printer is damaged or key components have become worn out and are beyond repair, you may need to consider upgrading your printers to newer models.

2. Printhead Problems

One of the underlying causes of print quality issues is a damaged or worn printhead. If there is buildup on your printhead and you haven’t been properly caring for it, your printhead might be damaged. A damaged printhead can cause several issues with print quality, uniformity, and consistency. To avoid this, you need to keep your printhead cleaned and well maintained.

Like anything, even a properly maintained printhead wears out with time and needs to be replaced. This can be quite expensive, so the best thing to do is stay ahead of preventive cleaning and care, and look to enroll in a program like Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program when you buy a new printer.

Zebra’s program provides guaranteed free printhead replacement as long as you’re using Zebra printers and agree to use Zebra’s labels and printing supplies exclusively.

However, if you’re not already using Zebra printers or aren’t in the program, and your printhead is giving your problems that can’t be fixed with some cleaning and maintenance, then consider investing in a new printer and signing up for the Printhead Replacement Program, so you don’t have to worry about printhead issues again.

3. Frequent Maintenance and Repairs

As we’ve already mentioned more than once, regular maintenance and servicing are critical to keeping your printers in top-performing shape. If you’ve been properly servicing your printers and are still encountering jams, print quality issues, and technical problems, your printer may be reaching its end of life, and it might be time to replace it.

An occasional need for service, calibration, or a quick repair is normal with printers that have been in use for years. But if you’re starting to need repairs more frequently and it’s disrupting your labeling operations, then start thinking about a replacement sooner rather than later.

Rather than spending money on fixes and repairs, you could be investing in a new device that will provide years of seamless printing, especially if you take proper care of it. It’s important to weigh the cost of maintenance on old printers vs. replacement printers.

4. Slow Print Speeds

Over time, some printers can become slower as they start to wear down, and some can have connectivity and other issues that can also slow down printing processes. Ultimately, lagging print speeds and performance can be rooted in many different causes, so first you should check with SK&T to check into these potential underlying problems.

If your issues can’t be fixed or fixed economically, a full replacement is in order. Realizing you need a replacement can be difficult, but it’s a better alternative to slow printing, especially if your business needs are picking up or you have large-volume labeling tasks that can overwhelm an aging device.

5. Limited Label Design Options

Sometimes your printing issues might be more about aesthetics and a failure to keep up with more sophisticated label design and quality requirements. For example, to enable better visibility of products or inventory or to improve your branding, you may want to add colors and graphics to your labels. You may need to start using labels that are better designed to resist sunlight, water, abrasion, or extreme temperatures.

However, your printer might not be able to deliver on these needs, particularly if it wasn’t built with the required printing capabilities or tools to print on specialized label materials. Many new applications can add graphics and colors with the desired characteristics, clarity, and quality. To get the results you want, it might make sense to invest in a next-generation printer that comes with all the technology you need for more sophisticated, visually attractive, and attention-grabbing label designs.

6. Outdated Capabilities

Label printers can become obsolete when business needs exceed what your hardware was built to do.

Some good examples include the need for Bluetooth communication, connectivity with the latest mobile devices and apps, and the ability to make aftermarket upgrades in the field, such as adding RFID encoding or tools such as a label rewinder or cuter to your printer.

Another big issue that many companies are having to address right now is a lack of updated printer security. Printers and other peripheral devices have become a leading target for new cyberattacks and hacking attempts, particularly since these devices haven’t been as well protected historically as networks, PCs, servers, and other pieces of hardware.

But printing is evolving all the time, and so are the methods that hackers use to compromise companies’ security, steal sensitive data, and spread malware and ransomware.

To fully protect your enterprise, you need to be looking at your printer security just as closely as your other cybersecurity. If your current label printer isn’t keeping up with your changing printing needs and especially if it’s no longer supported with security updates and the latest encryption and protection to keep your device safe, then the time to act is now.

Contact us to find out about the latest threats, the latest printing capabilities that are available to meet your business needs, and how to make the right choice to maximize the life of your next printer investment.

To learn more, contact our printer and labeling experts at SK&T. Call us at 720-851-9108 or email us through our website at