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What’s your printhead backup system?

One of Gulton’s best customers is a large distribution center with several locations nationwide.  We’ve been servicing them for many years and have developed a solid partnership – one where we can anticipate customer needs based on previous purchasing timeframes and have a thorough understanding of the rate at which their exceptionally busy center goes through their printhead supply.

This specific customer stocks backup printheads on a per printer basis.  At any particular time, each printer in their line has 4 printheads on the shelf, waiting in the wings for the current printhead to reach the end of its lifespan.  It’s a good system for our customer.  It saves their production schedule unnecessary down time, time and time again.  They can also rely on the fact that their Gulton compatible printheads won’t have any problems AND that the price for those printheads is exceptionally budget friendly, helping them keep their shelves stocked.

Do you plan for print head failures that may interrupt the flow of your business?

Having backup print heads is a fast and simple way to ensure your uptime is at its maximum potential.  Since Gulton print heads are cost effective, having these products on the shelf, ready to go, will not negatively impact your operating budget.

Gulton provides print heads to small, medium and large distribution centers and customers that simply use thermal printers.  No matter your how many or which thermal printers you use, having backup print heads is a smart plan for your printing needs.

Remember, Gulton is not just another print head vendor with compatible thermal printheads at affordable prices.   Gulton prides itself with having a staff that understands thermal printers and their operation and is willing to listen to your needs to assist.

We help some of the largest distribution centers in the country stay on schedule and plan for unforeseen circumstances, while keeping them within their budget parameters. Find out how we can do the same for your company.  Email Joe DiGiovanni, Gulton’s president at jdigiovanni@gulton.com to get the conversation started.



The right ribbons for the right labels … protecting against abrasive wear

We know that thermal printheads are sensitive electrical components.  They are so sensitive that Gulton recommends that our customers never directly touch the surface of the printhead.  We’ve also reviewed the steps you can take to prolong the life of your printhead through proper care and maintenance.

There is more, though, and it has nothing directly to do with how you treat your printheads.  It has to do with the ribbons you choose to use in your thermal transfer printer.  The right ribbons will contribute to longer printhead life.  The wrong ribbons will actually damage the printhead, not simply resulting in poor-quality print results, but a printhead that has been scratched and abraded. 

Thermal transfer printers work by passing a ribbon through the space between your labels and the thermal printhead.  When your ribbon is at least as wide as the label you are using – or preferably a little wider – the printhead never directly contacts the label surface.  Remembering how sensitive a printhead is, we can understand that if simply touching it with bare fingers and hands can cause damage, the surface of the label itself can abrade the printhead.

While labels may feel smooth when you run your hand over them, on a microscopic level, they aren’t.  If you’re using a ribbon that does not meet the width of your labels, there is no protection between the printhead and the surface of the label.  And when printhead meets label directly, damage results.


While it’s important for any business to save money, especially during challenging economic times, Gulton recommends thinking twice about purchasing low-priced, low-quality supplies for your thermal transfer printer.  Your ribbons need to be high quality and wide enough to accommodate the entire width of your printing media.  In the long run you WILL save money because you will extend the life of your printheads.  In addition, you’ll achieve better quality print results and experience less down time. And remember, Gulton is here to answer any questions you have about printheads, print quality, and how to get the best results from your thermal printer investment.  Just give us a call at 800-356-0399!

Caring for your thermal printheads

Whether you’re a logistics professional, a warehouse professional, a distribution center professional or have any other of the myriad of titles and job descriptions that routinely rely on thermal printers to get your job done and keep your business moving, it really is so important that you know how to care for your thermal printheads.

Here at Gulton, we’re very aware that the entirety of this information isn’t something most thermal printhead consumers are familiar with.  We want our customers to be happy with our products, of course, but as the experts in the industry, Gulton also wants to make sure that our customers are educated on how they can get the best performance out of our products.  It’s important for us to share our knowledge with hands-on thermal printer users.

The average lifespan of a thermal printhead is 1 million inches. That’s an agreed upon statistic across the industry.  Depending on how you care for your printhead, that lifespan can be either greatly extended or greatly reduced.  And while printheads are meant to be replaceable components, it can be very frustrating to be running your printer to find light streaks running down your labels or printing gaps long before you were expecting to.  And if you weren’t expecting to, you may not even have a replacement printhead waiting in the wings.  So what can you do about it?  We’re glad you asked!

Know and understand your printer settings
Print speed:
  Your printer should be set to the lowest possible print speed that still provides you with good results.

Contrast:  Set the contrast to the lowest possible setting.  This setting is responsible for heat application and you want to make sure that it’s kept reasonably low to avoid printhead burnout.

Temperature:  Your setting will depend completely on the type of printing material and ribbon you are using.  Guidance for this should be provided by both the ribbon and medium manufacturer.  And that guidance should lead you to the lowest possible temperature setting that will minimize the buildup of heat.

Printhead Pressure:  Low pressure means low friction and low friction means longer printhead life.

Make sure you’re cleaning your printheads regularly
Regularly means often.  It would be advisable to clean a printhead every time you change a ribbon for thermal transfer printers or every time you change a roll of labels for direct thermal printers.  Gulton sells Eco-Friendly Printhead Cleaning Wipes that can make this task much simpler.  If you don’t have cleaning wipes created especially for this purpose, you should be using isopropyl alcohol on a lint-free cloth.  There are cleaning kits and cleaning cards available as well.  This must be a habit to be effective so creating a schedule around a ribbon change makes sense.  And it really will make a difference to the life of your printhead.

Use high quality ribbons
Not all ribbons are created equal.  Some are of a higher quality than others.  That’s not to say that every low-priced ribbon is of poor quality – or that every higher-priced ribbon is excellent.  Choose a ribbon that is as wide or wider than your labels or paper.  If a ribbon is too narrow, the printhead can be scratched.  A poor-quality ribbon can result in the use of more heat and pressure which will degrade the printhead further.

Gulton wants you to get the most out of our thermal printheads.  We’re confident that if you incorporate these steps into your maintenance routines, you’ll extend printhead life and enjoy less down time and be even happier about the quality and durability of our products!


Thermal Printheads … the small and mighty workhorses powering your thermal transfer printer

As a purchaser of thermal printheads, Gulton knows you’re aware that the average size of a printhead is about four inches long.  There are some that are three inches, some can be six inches, and some can even measure as long as eleven inches. As a general statement though, a thermal printhead is a small electronic component.

Don’t be misled by size though.  In terms of importance and power, a thermal printhead is a small and mighty component.  Printheads have the awesome job of making a thermal transfer printer print.

That’s right, without that small, inconspicuous component, your thermal transfer printer would not be able to function.

Thermal transfer printers create images by melting a wax or resin-based ink onto paper.  That ink is purchased in the form of a ribbon (ink spread evenly across the surface of a thin polyester film).  After it’s loaded into your thermal transfer printer, the ribbon is run through the space between the printhead and thermal paper.

The printhead is the literal brain of the printing operation.  It contains numerous resistive heating pins that melt ink from the ribbon onto the paper upon contact.  A microprocessor determines which heating pins are heated to form the image.  The size of the printhead will match the size of the printing medium being used, as the printhead must span the whole width of the medium.

You can see why quality is such an important consideration when purchasing printheads.  Your printer is relying on this small and mighty component to run the show, making sure your barcode labels, clothing labels, receipts, shelf labels, card printing, ticket printing and countless other thermal printed materials are durable and long lasting, as well as the highest possible quality.

Gulton manufactures all our thermal printheads to OEM specifications.  We’re the experts and can answer any questions you may have about thermal printing.    Give us a call at 1.800.356.0399 or email the President of Gulton, Inc., Joseph Digiovanni at jdigiovanni@gulton.com … we’re always available to help out!

Laser Printing vs. Thermal Printing … Here’s what you should know

For years now, Gulton, Inc. has received inquiries daily regarding printheads for laser printers.  We’ve always directed those making the inquiry to proper sources.  But we’ve come to realize that for quite a few people, a thermal printhead and a laser printhead may as well be the same thing.  They aren’t though.  So, we thought it might be a good idea to take a little time and provide some education regarding the differences.

Laser Printers
Laser printers are popular choices for any number of printing applications.  Because of their wide marketplace acceptance, they were adapted for label printing.  Many companies make the decision to use laser printers for label printing for the simple reason that they may already have a laser printer in house that they can dedicate for this application.  That seems to make sense on an immediate basis. 

Designed for cut-sheet paper, laser printers weren’t designed to handle adhesive backed media in an efficient manner.  Laser printers run hot … so hot that they can cause the adhesive to bleed from the label.  It’s not great for your laser printer because it causes adhesive buildup internally.  It’s also not great for productivity because it will cause the printer to jam. The adhesive build-up must be cleaned from the printer. You will also most likely need to replace toner cartridges and fuser rollers more often than you would have if you weren’t running labels through your laser printer.  That’s a costly endeavor.

Your main concerns, though, really should focus on productivity.   Cut sheet labels are used for laser printers.  You can’t print one or two labels without running an entire sheet of labels through the printer. If you decide to be frugal and you don’t throw away the remainder of the sheet, it will be challenging, at best, to map the remaining labels for printing the next time.    

Thermal Transfer Printing

With Thermal Transfer Printing, the printhead heats a ribbon which then melts the image onto thermal paper.   This results in exceptionally clear images.    In addition, thermal paper resists moisture, chemicals and even bacteria.   Adhesive will not overheat and leak so there’s less down time with printer jams and constant adhesive clearing.  It saves time, uses media more efficiently and saves money.More importantly, thermal transfer paper is constructed in rolls.  This allows for easy printing of one to thousands of labels.   Additionally, each label can be unique giving the user the ability to create and print a multiple of different labels with no waste.

Laser Label Printing Vs. Thermal Transfer Printing 
The short answer: Laser Printing was not designed to print labels.  Thermal transfer printing was developed for the specific purpose.  Labels printed with a thermal transfer printer will have a longer life span than those printed by other printer types.

Of course, the printhead you would need for a laser printer isn’t the same printhead you’ll use for a thermal transfer printer.  We’ll cover the differences in an upcoming blog post.

Get to Know Gulton, America’s Printhead Manufacturer: Still Growing and Going Strong

Get to Know Gulton, America’s Printhead Manufacturer:
Still Growing and Going Strong

Gulton, the only U.S. manufacturer of compatible thermal printheads, has a long and storied history.  We developed the first thermal printhead back in 1972 for use by the federal government and led the way forward for affordable quality compatible thermal printheads for the global market.  Today, in 2020, Gulton remains a leader in the industry.  Through good times and bad, our company has continued to grow, develop and deliver outstanding, affordable products to the market.

It’s been quite a challenging year for businesses around the globe.  And Gulton is no exception – but, as has been true for the better part of a century through any of more than a few arduous environments, Gulton has persevered through the COVID-19 crisis.  Our manufacturing floor has remained open and we have continued to service our customers who have played an essential role in keeping the world moving during this unprecedented time.  Our thanks and respect go out to all of them and to every essential industry and worker worldwide.

We donned our masks, doubled down on sanitizing and went to work to make sure that our customers’ thermal printers never missed a beat so that they could continue to serve their customers uninterrupted.  Gulton is more aware than ever just how connected we all are.

We still make the best compatible thermal printheads you can purchase anywhere.  And we still make them here in the U.S. and sell them to you at prices far below OEM products.  Our processes and technologies are still equivalent to those used by the original equipment manufacturers.  Gulton’s commitment to quality and customer service never waivers.  We have continued to work closely with our customers to provide them with the products they need, the craftsmanship they expect and the dedication they deserve.  And because Gulton printheads are manufactured in New Jersey, in the United States, our customers have never needed to be concerned about product availability through these trying times.  Made in the U.S.A. has never sounded quite as good or meant quite as much as during these last six months!

As we all look forward to bettering conditions globally, we’d like to invite you to Get to Know Gulton again and experience what Gulton quality, Gulton service and Gulton commitment can mean for your business.

Introducing the SATO 84EX 203 DPI/AM112 Printhead

SATO 84EX 203 DPI/AM112

Gulton, Inc. introduces its newest compatible thermal printhead:
the AM112/SATO 84EX 203 DPI Printhead


May 4, 2018, South Plainfield, New JerseyGulton, Inc., pioneer of the thermal printhead, announced the addition of the AM112/SATO 84EX 203 DPI Printhead to its extensive line of compatible thermal printheads.

As part of Gulton’s ongoing efforts to meet the requirements of thermal printer users, they aim, each year, to expand their printhead offerings.  This year, Gulton has accomplished this by adding the SDP-112-896-AM112/SATO 84EX 203 DPI printhead to their already impressive line of compatible thermal printheads.  If you’re a SATO 84EX user, you’ll want to take note as this printhead is now available for up to 50 percent less than its OEM counterpart. 

Gulton designs every compatible printhead we offer to the exact specifications of the OEM.  Our manufacturing process ensures our customers the highest quality.  Our customer commitment ensures them the best service available.  The introduction of the AM112/SATO 84EX once again accomplishes our mission, bringing customers OEM-level quality at competitive pricing,” stated Joe DiGiovanni, Sales Manager of Gulton, Inc.  “And once again, customers can feel confident that Gulton’s entire team of designers and engineers have worked diligently to provide the products our customers are expecting.”


To take a look at the savings your company can achieve purchasing the AM112/SATO 84EX 203 DPI Printhead from Gulton instead of the OEM, visit www.gulton.com.




Gulton, Inc. is America’s leading manufacturer of thermal printheads used in a variety of barcode, label and photo printers worldwide.  Gulton’s commitment to quality makes their printheads the perfect choice for cost-conscious businesses looking to duplicate OEM print quality without paying OEM prices.  Find out what made in America can mean to your printhead purchases.  Visit Gulton, Inc. online at www.gulton.com.


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All About Printhead Failure

Printhead Failure

Why do print heads fail?  This is a question that every user of a thermal printer has asked, probably more than a few times.  It’s also a question with more than a few good answers. 


The most prevalent cause of printhead failure is dirt.  Remember, though, that thermal printers produce a very specific kind of dirt.  The material used for printing in a thermal printer is paper based.  During the process of creating the material the paper is slit and die punch multiple times.  This action creates paper fibers that create “paper dust” during the thermal printing process.


Paper dust lands everywhere in a thermal printer.  The paper dust is “kicked” around during normal operations, installing new rolls of material or ribbon.  Paper dust is attracted to the roller under the print head, which under the pressure of feeding the material creates a raised area under the print head.  This raised area begins to cut into the protective covering of the printing line.  Once this process starts, voids in the print area are inevitable.  How do you combat this destructive action?


You have to clean your thermal printer regularly.  Most especially, you need to clean the printhead area.    In addition to addressing the build of paper dust, you’ll be removing other contaminates as well.   Gulton suggests that you do this after every material roll change or at least once every day.    Use an approved cleaning product (Gulton’s cleaning wipes) that’s safe for your equipment, the printhead and the environment. 


And, speaking of environment … you need to remember that the environment in which your thermal printer is situated can also lead to printing voids.   A dusty environment can be just as bad as paper dust inside your printer.  Keeping your printer cover closed during normal operation and especially when the printer is idle will help limit environmental involvement in printhead failure. 


Another cause of printhead damage can be the material itself.  If the material is rough in nature it may be acting as an abrasive to the printhead and can cause the white lines no one wants to see in their printed image.


Additionally, the printhead needs to be handled as an electronic device.  Mishandling during installation may lead to damage outside the printing line, and the printing line itself, which would lead to poor printed images on your material. 


Although the darkness setting is NOT a cause of printhead damage, voltage spikes can damage the printhead.  This normally occurs when the power source to the thermal printer has other devices, like a microwave or other high voltage spike devices plugged into the same power source.  This situation usually creates a larger void in the print head, which indicates a larger area of the printing line was damaged.  Surge suppressors are an easy and cost-effective solution.


Printheads are the powerhouse behind your thermal printing operations.  While they look simple, they are electronic devices that are affected by any number of different issues.  Gulton is meticulous with our manufacturing process, ensuring you the highest quality printheads you can purchase.  Following these simple steps to avoid printhead failure will help you get the most life and the best results from your investment.

Introducing our Eco-Friendly Thermal Printhead Cleaning Wipes


Introducing our Eco-Friendly
Thermal Printhead Cleaning Wipes

As a manufacturer of compatible thermal printheads, our customer service, engineering and design staff are often called upon by our customers to troubleshoot a variety of printer and printhead issues.

It’s because of that close connection with customer challenges that Gulton is aware of just how often proper cleaning and maintenance (or lack thereof) can be involved in thermal printing issues.  So today, we’re introducing you to our Eco—Friendly Thermal Printhead Cleaning Wipes.

These wipes are a great favor you can do for your investment in thermal printing.  Use them regularly and you’ll see a difference in print quality and performance.

-          Eco-friendly

-          Easy to use

-          Removes difficult adhesives

-          Maximizes printhead life

-          Insures quality printing

-          Revives platen rollers

-          Reduces your service calls

-          Saves you time and money


They’re priced right too, at just $38 for a box of 25 wipes.  Take care of your investment in quality thermal printing.  Click here for the details.

The Gulton Printhead Manufacturing Glossary

The Gulton Printhead Manufacturing Glossary

Gulton Printhead Manufacturing Glossary

Our customers have always asked us some very important questions about what we do here at Gulton.  As a printhead purchaser, it’s important for you to feel comfortable with our products and have a basic understanding of Gulton’s manufacturing process and the components used in that process.

You can check out our manufacturing process as we take you step by step through our facility in South Plainfield, New Jersey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFHOxgf0YEQ&t=104s

In addition, please spend some time with Gulton’s Printhead Manufacturing Glossary so you can become familiar with the components that allow the printheads you purchase from us to work for your requirements:

  •   Heatsink

o   This is a passive heat exchanger that transfers the heat generated by an electronic or a mechanical device.  Heat is
     dissipated away from the device thereby allowing regulation of the device's temperature at optimal levels.

  •   Driver Chip (IC)

o   A driver chip is an electrical circuit or other electronic component used to control another circuit or component.

  •   PCB (Printed Circuit Board)

o   A printed circuit board mechanically supports and connects electronic components using conductive tracks, pads and 
    other features etched from one or more sheets or substrates.

  •   Substrate

o   A substrate is a white piece of material that contains the individual dot pixels that connect electrically to heat the pixels
     to produce an image.  Each dot pixel is controlled separately through the connector that connects to the logic of a printer.

  •   Coating

o   Every printhead includes a hard coating.  This coating protects the heater elements from getting abraded by the print
     medium, while still enabling the heat they generate to produce quality printed characters.

  •   Resistor

o   In electronic circuits, resistors are used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, to divide voltages, bias active
     elements, and terminate transmission lines.

  •   Connectors

o   Connectors allow the flow of voltage and data through flexible cables connected to logic and power.   


As the experts in printhead manufacturing, Gulton seeks to educate our customers and potential customers about how printheads are produced and, in addition, how they can be kept functioning at an optimal level.   It’s our responsibility, not only as your business partner, but also as the only U.S.-based printhead manufacturer.    We’d like to invite your questions and comments.  Please email them to:  jdigiovanni@gulton.com and we’ll be happy to address them.