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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.