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Easier Searching for Easier Shopping on the Gulton Website: Introducing Manufacturer & Printer Model Search



Gulton offers our customers almost 200 different compatible printheads that work with a large variety of the most popular thermal printers.  We manufacture them right here at our facility in South Plainfield, New Jersey and every one of them is available online at our website: www.gulton.com.

Of course, Gulton has always had our own model numbers for those printheads.  For instance, the compatible printhead for the Sato CL408 203 DPI printer is Gulton’s model number SSP-112-896-AM67 (or the AM67 for short). 

While we have always guided our customers to the correct printhead for their printer model when receiving phone and email orders, it was a little more complicated for our customers who wanted to order printheads online.

Introducing the New Search by Manufacturer & Printer Model Function

This great new search function makes it so easy to find the right compatible printhead for your Zebra, Sato or Datamax printer.  The function is accessible fight from the Gulton Home Page:



After clicking through on the home page link, simply type in the manufacturer name and printer model for which you need a compatible printhead in the search box provided.  You’ll see a drop-down list with printer models list from which you can make your selection.




After you make your selection, you’ll be brought to the next screen, where you can click through to the printhead and make your purchase.



This makes shopping on the Gulton website so easy and intuitive.  You won’t need to know the Gulton model numbers, only the printer model you own to select the correct compatible printhead.  Check out our great new feature at www.gulton.com.  If you have any questions about how to use this search function, give us a call at 1-800-356-0399 and we’ll be happy to help.

Gloss vs. Matte Labels: Is there a difference?

You’re getting ready to print labels on your new thermal printer and now you have a decision to make.  Will you choose matte or gloss labels?  Gulton has helped many of our customers make this choice.  Let’s take a look at what is most important to understand when deciding and how your decision can affect your final printed product.  Here are our very basic definitions:

Matte Labels = Labels with no finish applied to the paper

Gloss Labels = Labels with a finish applied to the paper

Matte Labels & Thermal Printing
There’s a minor comparison we can make between a matte label and newsprint (the paper used for printing newspapers).  Matte labels are not coated.  Because no finish is applied to the label, the fibers of the paper will absorb more ink than their glossy counterparts.  As a result of this absorption, the print will appear less crisp than the print on a gloss label.  While not as pronounced, we can compare it to the print in a newspaper that will appear less defined than the print in a magazine (which is printed on glossy paper).  Thermal printing on matte labels is far less likely to smudge than the printing in a newspaper.

Gloss Labels and Thermal Printing
Much like the print in a magazine, thermal printing on gloss labels will appear more defined and precise than on its non-coated counterpart.  This is because the glossy coating applied to the label does not absorb ink.  Rather, the ink is laid on top of the coating, which acts as a barrier to the paper fibers.  If your label includes a more intricate logo, perhaps including color, or shades of black and gray, these may be the labels for you.  Print on gloss labels, however, will smudge.

So where does that leave you?  Right now, we have less-than-crisp print with matte labels and print that smudges with gloss labels.  These issues are resolved by choosing the right ribbon for your label choice.

Matte labels require high quality wax ribbon.  This will ensure that your final printed product is readable and presentable without losing resolution to ink absorption.

For gloss labels, you’ll need to choose a high quality resin ribbon.  These are the hardest type of ribbon.  The ink will adhere to the gloss coating on the label and, therefore, will not smudge or smear.

So the answers are in the questions:  “What am I printing?” and “What ribbon will work best?”  Plain shipping labels?  Choose a matte label and a wax ribbon.   Logos and more complex graphics?  Go with a gloss label and a resin ribbon.


Gulton has a wealth of information to share with you about every aspect of the thermal printing process.  And don’t forget, we manufacture the highest quality replacement printheads that are comparable to their OEM counterparts.  Don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-356-0399.  We’re always happy to help!

Dots Per Inch and Your Thermal Printing Requirements



Dots per inch is the measurement we use for thermal print resolution. “DPI,” (dots per inch abbreviated), refers to the number of dots printed per inch on your print media.  Typically, you’ll see either 200 or 300 DPI in thermal printing.  However, some applications call for 600 dots per inch and even 1200.  Gulton compatible thermal printheads are available in a variety of DPI resolutions to work with a variety of thermal printers and a variety of different applications.

Does your thermal printer determine the DPI measurement of your thermal printhead or can you use a printhead with any dots per inch measurement?

For the most part, the thermal printer you purchase will dictate the DPI of your printheads.  It’s built into the printer logic and you should know at the time of your purchase the DPI your specific model requires.  If you use a higher or lower DPI printhead than is dictated by your printer you’ll know by the labels you’ve printed.  They will look noticeably different than they should and the print will have the appearance of being overly condensed or “shrunken.”  It won’t hurt your printer, but it will hurt your output.

There are now thermal printers available that will switch between 200, 300 and even 600 DPI.  You can choose the DPI based on your application with these newer models.

What DPI measurement is right for your requirements?

The answer is actually another question:  What are you printing?

Keeping in mind that dots per inch is literally how many dots are printed within a one inch area of print media, 200 dots per inch produces an image that is less dense than 300 dots per inch.

For Shipping Labels: 200 dots per inch works quite well here.  A readable address will be produced.  The barcode will be scannable and your package will ship without any difficulties.

For Labels with logos, specialty fonts and graphics: 300 dots per inch is a better option here.  Logos need to be more than readable, they need to be attractive and command attention.  Specialty fonts are thinner and smaller than basic fonts.  These need a higher dot concentration to reproduce correctly.  Graphics generally require more ink and reproduce in shades of black and gray and will benefit from a higher dot configuration.

Advanced graphics:  QR Codes, garment labels and other more complex graphics are best suited to a 600 dots per inch configuration.  These particular printheads are available from the printer’s original manufacturer.


Remember, whatever dots per inch measurement suits your application, Gulton manufactures the highest quality, most reliable compatible thermal printheads that will work with your specific in 200 and 300 DPI resolutions.  Please give us a call at 1-800-356-0399 to find out how we can help you with your thermal printhead requirements.

The Anatomy of a Printhead (Part 2)

When we left off in our last blog post, the circuits were being tested by our engineers.  Now that we have working, defect-free circuits, it’s time to build a printhead.

Wire Bonding … the next step
The circuits that have been cleared in electrical testing move on to wire bonding.  Gulton uses an automatic wire bonder to provide connectivity between the printed circuit board and the PCB parts that create the functional printhead. 

Let’s go under the hood …
If you look under the cover of a printhead you’ll see a number of components essential to printhead operation.  Let’s look at a few of those components.

Resistors are used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, divide voltages, bias active elements and terminate transition lines.

Driver Chips (IC)
A driver chip is an electrical circuit or component that is used to control another circuit or component.

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

Heat Sink
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.

These and other components are assembled by hand on the Gulton manufacturing floor.

Printhead Testing
Every printhead Gulton manufactures goes through a rigorous testing process.   Our process of circuit testing, purchasing the highest quality components for use in our printheads, it is the final testing process that assures both Gulton and our customers that the printheads they’ve ordered are in top working condition prior to their receipt. 

Gulton works hard to make sure that we deliver our customers the best quality compatible printheads available.  We’re proud of our process and we’re happy to share it with you.  If you have any questions, or if we can help you with your printhead requirements, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-356-0399.  And make sure you check out our video that will make Gulton’s manufacturing process come to life for you.  You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/WFHOxgf0YEQ or right on our home page.



The Anatomy of a Printhead (Part I)


Gulton manufactures almost 100 different compatible thermal printheads.  If you were to line them up next to one another, most would look noticeably different than their counterparts.  Printheads come in different lengths, widths and heights.  And there are some differences that aren’t simply visual.  Some printheads are 200 dots per inch, while others are 300 dots per inch.  Some boast extended life while others can be unique to different industries and applications.

At their core though, every printhead has an almost identical anatomy, with a manufacturing process that follows Gulton’s proven approach.

So what exactly is the anatomy of a printhead?  Let’s take a look inside …

It Starts with a Substrate
Every thermal printhead begins its life as a simple substrate.  A substrate is a piece of white ceramic materials that contains the individual dot pixels that connect electrically to heat the pixels to produce an image.  The substrates come to us as mutli-circuit boards.

The first step in the transformation of the substrate board is the coating process.  Substrates receive a hard coating that protects the heating elements from abrasion by the print medium, while still enabling the heat generated to produce quality printed characters.


Preparing the Printed Circuit Board
After the substrates are coated, geometric patterns are engraved into an etching layer that has been spread over the coating.  This essential step creates the printed circuit board (PCB).  Then batches of circuits are loaded into a belt furnace for thermal treatment.

Circuit Testing
Every circuit Gulton manufactures is tested individually for open defects and electrical shorts.  This step helps us ensure that every printhead Gulton ships is defect free.

That brings us about halfway through our process.  In our next installment, we’ll cover heat sinks, driver chips, connectors and heater lines.  You can see our process on YouTube.  It’s a fascinating look inside how Gulton delivers the best thermal printhead replacements available!


Any questions so far?  Don't hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-356-0399.  We're always happy to hear from you.

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.