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Blog posts of '2021' 'April'

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.