Gamma Electronics Heat Shrink Tubing Printers Comparison

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Gamma Electronics Heat Shrink Tubing Printers Comparison

Gamma Electronics offers several different types of heat shrink printers, built to print on and cut heat shrink per your specifications.  In other posts we’ve discussed the advantages of these types of printers, (called Thermal Transfer Printers), and we’ve even given advice as to when you should look at investing in such a printer.  This post is meant to purely offer a comparative look at the 3 different printers we offer and where you might use one over another.

So rather than opening multiple tabs and trying to find and sift through loads of information we put it all in one place for you.  You’re welcome.

The Gamma Bolt is a printer designed to be used in shops who need to print on heat shrink in low to medium volumes.  The Gamma Bolt will print on and cut heat shrink in sizes ranging from 1/16 up to 2.5 inches and in lengths from a minimum of a 1/2 inch up to any length.  It comes with Gamma Label, our proprietary software that makes designing labels for and printing on heat shrink easy.

The Gamma Bolt is perfect for shops that need to print on heat shrink often but not in volumes in the several thousands (at a time).

The Gamma Mark III Plus prints on and cuts heat shrink and has the added bonus of being able to perforate heat shrink if you so choose.  It is capable of printing on heat shrink sizes ranging from 1/16 inch up to 2.5 inches.  It can also print and cut (or perforate) in lengths as small as .25 inches up to whatever length you want.  More impressively it can print up to 11 inches/second.  The Mark III Plus also comes with Gamma Label.

The Gamma Mark III Plus is a great high volume printer that can handle print jobs starting at 5,000 at a time and can go well beyond 10,000 at a time.  The Gamma Mark III Plus is built to be the heat shrink labeling workhorse for shops that need to print in very high volumes.

The Gamma Double Mark is so named because of its ability to do double sided prints on either heat shrink or labels.  While not able to print as fast as the Gamma Mark III Plus the Double Mark is able to handle the same workload, (several thousands at a time).

The Gamma Double Mark is intended for shops that need a high volume printer with that double sided printing ability.

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Gamma Bolt

Gamma Mark III Plus

Gamma Double Mark

Printing MethodThermal TransferThermal TransferThermal Transfer
Key FeaturesLow to medium volume heat shrink tubing printer that prints on and cuts heat shrink to specifications. Comes with Gamma Label software.High volume heat shrink printer that can print volumes starting at 5,000 labels at a time, at up to 11 inches per second. Can also cut or perforate heat shrink to specifications. Comes with Gamma Label software.High volume heat shrink printer that can print and cut or perforate double sided labels.
MSRP$1850

with Rotary Cutter $3,545

with Perf Cutter $3,900

with Rotary Cutter $11,800

with Perf Cutter $12,265

SpeedUp to 4 inches/secondUp to 11 inches/secondUp to 5 inches/second
Resolution300 DPI prints (12 dots per mm)300 DPI standard, (600 also available)300 DPI standard
Shrink Tube Sizes(1/16”,3/32”,1/8”,3/16”, 1/4”,3/8”,1/2”,3/4”,1”,1.5”)(1/16”,3/32”,1/8”,3/16”, 1/4”,3/8”,1/2”,3/4”,1”,1.5″, 2.25″, 2.5”)(1/16”,3/32”,1/8”,3/16”, 1/4”,3/8”,1/2”,3/4”,1”,1.5″, 2.25″, 2.5”)
Size8 (W) x 7.75 (H) x 11.5 (D) inches9.92 (W) x 11.34 (H) x 18.11 (D) inches14.1 (W) x 15.5 (H) x 21.8 (D) inches
PC CompatibilityCompatible with Windows 7, 8, 10Compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10Compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10

Conclusion

Only you can decide what printer best meets your needs, pricepoint, etc.  Our hope in making this chart was to make the information more quickly accessible so readers like you can make a more informed decision.

For more information regarding our printers please visit our Cable Identification page, or reach out to our sales team by emailing us at Sales@GammaElectronics.net.

At What Point Should You Buy A Thermal Transfer Printer?

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At What Point Should You Buy A Thermal Transfer Printer?

Here at Gamma we make a lot of customized labels, mostly printed on heat shrink tubing.  Our Thermal Transfer Printers are great for printing these labels and while we primarily use them for heat shrink tubing these printers can be and are commonly used in far more applications including paper labels and receipts.

Some of you may be asking why you would use a Thermal Transfer Printer for labels, which is a topic we’ve addressed in a previous blog post.  For the purposes of this blog post let’s just say that the reasons to use a thermal transfer printer are numerous, especially when printing in high volumes and/or with materials like heat shrink.

The real question is at what point is it more cost effective to purchase a printer and create your own labels as opposed to ordering custom labels through a company like Gamma Electronics?

How Often and How Much

The simple answer comes in the form of a question: how much are you printing?  That question sounds simple but can in truth be difficult to answer.  How much you’re printing is likely to fluctuate depending on the given day, so we’re better served by first asking how often are you printing followed by how much?

How Often

If you’re printing daily, you’ll want to own a printer.  If you’re printing multiple times a week, again, you should probably have your own printer, otherwise you’ll be placing a lot of orders. But what about those who are just printing every now and then?

We like to suggest that if you’re ordering around 4 times a year you might want to look into purchasing a printer, but that is only true if the volume is high, (which we’ll discuss more in the next section).  If you’re ordering every few months at a lower volume it’s probably more cost effective to order labels than to purchase a printer, but to better answer that question we should really pin down how much you’re printing.

How Much

As the print volume grows things get a bit more tricky.  Let’s say you need 1,000 to 1,500 labels a couple of times a year.  At that point you are probably still better served ordering the prints.  Once you start ordering those same volumes around 4 times a year is about the time we recommend looking at getting a printer.

So to sum things up: If you’re ordering multiple times a month you probably want to get your own printer or if you’re ordering volume that reaches into the thousands 4 times a year or more you should also look into purhcasing a printer.

Printers Matched to Printing Quantity

Our team at Gamma Electronics has developed several printers designed to specifically match different volumes of printing.

If you need to print hundreds of labels and maybe go as high as labels in the low thousands then the Gamma Bolt is your machine.  It can print on varying heat shrink sizes and cut them to your specifications.

If you need to print in higher volumes, starting at around 5,000 prints at a time, then you will want to look at the Gamma Mark III Plus.  The Mark III Plus can easily print above 10,000 prints at a time and it gives you the option to print or perforate heat shrink.

Our third printer option is the Gamma Double Mark, which offers a number of the perks of the Gamma Mark III Plus but also offers the ability to print double sided labels.

The Gamma Bolt and Gamma Mark III Plus also come with Gamma Label, a proprietary software that makes designing and printing your own labels easy.

Pros and Cons: Ordering Prints vs Purchasing a Printer

There are a couple of other things to consider when trying to make the decision between purchasing a printer or having your labels printed for you.

First, having your own printer means no wait times. 

Owning a printer means you can print anytime you need to, (assuming you have the needed materials).  Anytime you order prints your order will take time to be printed and shipped meaning it’s probably a matter of a few days before you receive them, (at a minimum).  If you consistently need prints and need them almost immediately then you’ll want to own your own printer.

Second, printers have costs that go beyond the purchase price of the printer. 

Printer ribbons will need to be replaced as needed and software will need to be renewed on a yearly basis. Certainly, these costs aren’t enormous but you don’t have to worry about them when ordering prints.

Third, it’s almost always going to be easier to order prints than it is to make your own. 

There’s incredible convenience in ordering prints and having a professional take care of it for you.  However, there is also incredible convenience in being able to make your own prints when and where you need them.

To that point, we’ve gone to great lengths to make our Gamma Label software incredibly easy to use but, like any software, it does require a bit of learning.  Just know that owning a printer means taking the time to learn and operate it which is much different than asking an experienced professional to do those things for you.

For more information regarding our printers make sure to check out our Cable Identification page where you can also find information about purchasing a printer from Gamma Electronics directly.

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What is a Thermal Printer?

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What is a Thermal Printer?

You may not be aware of it, but you likely encounter thermal printers on a near daily basis.  Thermal printers print out some of our most printed items like receipts, packaging labels, cable labels, and more.  So, what are thermal printers, what makes them different, and why are they so commonly used?

What is a Thermal Printer?

What is a Thermal Printer?

A thermal printer utilizes heat to print.  Most thermal printers work with a special, chemical paper that when heated, changes color.  Other types of thermal printers, (more often referred to as thermal transfer printers), have a unique printer ribbon that, when heated, can transfer the resin of the ribbon onto another material, (like heat shrink tubing).  No matter what type of thermal printer you are using they all utilize heat to print, (hence the term “thermal” in the name),

Direct Thermal Printer

How Does a Thermal Printer Work?

As stated above, most thermal printers utilize a chemical paper that, when heated, changes color.  The job of the printer however is not just to heat the paper, but to selectively heat the parts of the paper you want to change color. 

For example, if you were trying to print a receipt you would need to print letters, numbers, maybe a barcode, etc.  To print those things, the paper runs through the printer and as the paper runs across the print head, electrical currents in the print head generate the heat that creates every letter, number, barcode, etc.  As the paper keeps moving through the printer the printer prints line-by-line, creating only the currents/heat necessary to create each letter, number, etc.

What are the Advantages of a Thermal Printer?

Thermal printers do not require ink, they can quickly and easily print simple text, and in some cases, they can even print simple images, (like grayscale logos for example).  Maintenance on thermal printers tends to be minimal as well.  Simply put the right paper in the machine and print to your heart’s desire.   The other benefit of not using ink when printing is there is no need to wait for ink to dry.  You can have smudge free prints in seconds.  All these attributes make thermal printers ideal for printing things like receipts and shipping labels.

What are the Disadvantages of a Thermal Printer?

The largest disadvantage of a thermal printer is that they are more expensive, specifically when compared to inkjet printers.  However, if you’re printing with a thermal printer often enough, the upfront cost is easily offset.  The low operation cost of thermal label printers is why most retail stores and shipping centers use thermal label printers instead of inkjet printers.

Beyond the upfront cost however, it should also be noted that thermal printers are not made to print much more than text, numbers, and barcodes.  Some can print basic graphics, but they typically need to be stark contrast, black and white graphics, (more commonly called grayscale).  Most thermal printers only print a single color, and if you’re printing a receipt or a shipping label, that’s all you need it to do.  There are thermal printers available capable of printing in two colors, but don’t think of them like inkjet printers which can mix inks to create different shades and variations of colors.

Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer Printers

There are 2 primary types of thermal printers: direct thermal and thermal transfer.  Both printers work off the same basic concept of using heat that comes from electrical current/pulses inside the print head of the printer.

In direct thermal printing, the print head of the printer comes into direct contact with whatever material you’re printing onto, (most often specialized paper).  The electrical pulses from the print head come into direct contact with the paper, which causes the thermal reaction that makes the paper change color, or what we would refer to as a “print.”

In thermal transfer printing the print head does not come into direct contact with what you are printing onto.  Instead, there is a printer ribbon that is in-between the print head and what you want to print onto.  In thermal transfer printing the ribbon runs across the print head and the electrical current in the print head causes the material in the ribbon to transfer from the ribbon to whatever you’re printing onto. 

You can almost think of direct thermal vs thermal transfer as “direct vs indirect thermal printing”.  Direct thermal is a direct contact between the print head and the printed material whereas thermal transfer is more indirect, with a ribbon in-between the print head and the printed material.

See a Thermal Transfer Printer in Action

Thermal Label vs. Thermal Transfer

Sometimes the terms thermal label and thermal transfer can almost be used interchangeably when discussing these types of printers, so we want to clear up any confusion.  Thermal label printers almost always tend to be direct thermal printers.  They are often called thermal label because they most often print directly onto labels. So, when you see thermal label, you can think of it as direct thermal printing.

Similarly, thermal transfer printers typically do not print directly onto labels and are better suited to more specialized purposes, like printing on heat shrink tubing.

Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer vs. Inkjet Printers

Direct thermal printers are great for printing things like receipts, shipping labels, etc.  They do require special paper to work, but so many options exist for printing receipts and shipping labels that this usually isn’t an issue.

Inkjet printers are what most of us have in our homes and workplaces.  They are great for printing photos and graphics and anything that requires more color and detail.  Inkjet printers can easily become maintenance problems largely because ink can be a tricky thing to work with.  It must be replaced often, nozzles need to be cleaned and calibrated, ink cartridges are printer specific, etc.  Ink also smudges, which is not ideal for many forms of printing.  Inkjet printers can print onto most papers however, and do not require a specialized paper to print, although different types of papers produce different types of print results.

But what if you want to print on something other than paper?  That’s where thermal transfer printers come in.  For example, we make thermal transfer printers for the purpose of printing onto heat shrink tubing.  Direct thermal would not be able to print onto heat shrink at all, and the ink from inkjet printers would easily smudge and not last.  Thermal transfer printers solve these problems by having the ribbon transfer onto the heat shrink tubing, (instead of direct thermal), with the ribbon being highly smudge resistant.  So, if you’re trying to do something unique, like putting labels onto heat shrink, you’ll want to look at a thermal transfer printer. 

It should be noted that thermal transfer printers can’t just transfer their ribbon onto any material.  To use heat shrink tubing as an example again, not all heat shrink tubing is made from the same materials.  We have designed our thermal transfer printer ribbon with heat shrink tubing in mind but simply cannot guarantee it to work with all heat shrink tubing products and materials out there.  For this reason, we have a 3 to 1 (3:1), flattened heat shrink tubing designed for printing that we are able to guarantee the quality of the prints.

The point is that thermal transfer printing is highly specialized.  Just like direct thermal is great for receipts and shipping labels, and inkjet printing is great for photos and graphics, so too is thermal transfer great for heat shrink and other highly specialized purposes.  Deciding on a printer really depends on your application.  If you have a specific application in mind however, especially if the quantity is high, you will more than likely want to go with the printer best suited to your specific application.

Gamma’s Thermal Transfer/Heat Shrink Printers

Here at Gamma Electronics, we focus on thermal transfer printers given how much work we do in the heat shrink tubing world.  We offer three types of thermal transfer printers, each of which are capable of printing and cutting different sizes of heat shrink tubing.  With our printers you get all the perks of thermal transfer printing.  Fast, reliable prints that don’t smudge with far less maintenance than you get with inkjet printers.

 

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Gamma Electronics 2018 Recap

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Gamma Electronics 2018 Recap

2018 was a very busy year here at Gamma Electronics.  We wanted to take a moment to thank all those who have been part of our journey and provide some updates as to some of the exciting things that have happened during 2018.

New Location

First things first, we moved!  It wasn’t far, (ok, just a few doors down), but it did allow us to get a much larger warehouse to better accommodate the needs of our partners and customers.

Gamma Electronics Warehouse

New Logo/Branding

We also updated our logo and website this year.  We wanted the website to be easier to navigate and explore while also providing a fresh new look to match some of the innovative products we’re bringing to the market.

Low PIM, Low Loss Cable Assemblies

Speaking of innovative products we have had a great response to our new line of low PIM, low loss cables.  We’ll be providing more information about this new product line in the coming weeks but for the purposes of this blog post we’ll just share an excerpt from an email we received this week from a highly satisfied customer:

Low PIM, Low Loss RF Cable Assembly

“We saw the biggest improvement on the worst connections. Anything above -105 RSRP saw 2-4 db improvement.  The CINR SINR levels pretty much improved across the board…The general reliability of UEs from ICMP and SNMP on the sector improved greatly.”

Kaleb Rounsevel, ST. Marie’s Internet

Needless to say we are excited about what these cables are capable of doing.

RF Weatherproof Boot

We pride ourselves in not only providing the best cable protection options but the fastest cable protection install options available.  The Weatherproof Boot was a great addition in 2018.

Closeup of Gamma Electronics Boot on Cable

Updated Printer

Our Printers continue to be an industry leading solution for printing on heat shrink tubing and we made exciting updates to our Gamma Mark III Plus printer specifically.  It has a large new touchscreen, an updated interface, it can be connected via Bluetooth and it prints much more quietly and smoothly.

Gamma Mark III Plus Printer

New Resellers

Purchase Gamma Electronics through Streakwave
Purchase Gamma Electronics through Winncom
Purchase Gamma Electronics through WAV
Purchase Gamma Electronics through CTI Connect

We’ve added a number of new resellers in hopes of making our products more accessible to customers.  In recent months we added Wincomm, Streakwave, Wav, and CTIConnect.  For a full list of all of our reselllers, see our Where to Buy page.

Trade Shows

Gamma Electronics WISPAPALOOZA18 Booth
Gamma Electronics WISPAPALOOZA18 Low PIM Mini Golf

We had a great time attending a number of trade shows this past year including Wispapalooza, ConnectX, IWCE, Wispamerica, and the Assembly Show.  We particularly enjoyed sharing our mini golf visual aid which highlighted how Gamma products help eliminate obstacles like PIM and water ingress to ensure that you have a clean signal.

What’s to Come in 2019

 While 2018 was a great year for us we are even more excited about what’s to come in 2019.  We will be regularly updating this blog in the coming year and will be releasing monthly videos and newsletters as well.

 We would also love to meet face to face and have already set up our trade show schedule for the coming year.  Please come say hello to us at: 

  • Nate Unite 2019
  • IWCE
  • WispAmerica
  • CanWisp
  • Satellite 2019
  • Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo
  • ConnectX
  • Wispapalooza
  • The Assembly Show

 You can also visit our trade shows page to learn more about our presence at each of these shows. 

We also have some new products in the works that we will be announcing in the first half of 2019.  To keep up with all the new updates make sure to follow us on social media, continue to check into the blog, and sign up for our newsletter below.

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