When it comes to choosing the thermal printer for you there is more choice than ever before right now. Good thermal printers are different to standard home printers and are often smaller, lighter and more reliable because they have specific uses for small businessesm professional crafters, artists and hobbyists.
The process uses heat to transfer pigments onto a surface and the coating turns black in the areas where it is heated, which is why there's no need to buy ink cartridges; you just need the paper and the printer itself.
Good thermal printers also require less maintenance and tend to be cheaper to run. These factors make cheap thermal printers a great choice for making labels for general use and shipping – these are a must-have tool for those running their own business, printing in bulk or those artists and crafters who sell through sites like Etsy.
There are plenty of great thermal printer brands out there – I've included products by Brother, MUNBYN, and others. I've also included one of the best thermal printers for smaller labels too, so there is something for everyone in this guide. If you're looking for something to make smaller labels instead, then you should check out our guide to the best label makers, great for keeping your home or office organised.
The best thermal printers available now
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The Dymo LabelWriter 4XL is one of the highest-rated thermal label printers for e-commerce sellers – that's everyone from Etsy sellers to those with small shops and websites. It’s simple to set up and compact in size, producing crisp and clear labels every time with its high resolution of 300dpi.
This printer is not too large to sit on your desk as it is of a compact size with its sleek black cover and silver edging, meaning that it will blend into most environments. While the Dymo 4XL printer has the ability to print labels in a range of sizes, it's best equipped to print larger shipping labels up to 4-inches wide. This goes hand-in-hand with its compatibility with many major online marketplaces and shipping platforms.
To add more to its versatility, it also permits you to print shipping labels directly from major selling platforms like Amazon and eBay. There are over 60 available label styles and formats, along with a wide variety of fonts and styles to choose from. It also boasts quick print times with no hassle of using ink or toner, printing around 29 labels per minute. This makes a convenient choice if you have a large printing task to undertake.
The Rollo Wireless Printer X1040 has a sleek design and is predominantly white, with purple highlights and is aimed at individuals and businesses who need to print 4x6” shipping labels.
This thermal printer stands out from its competitors by using Wi-Fi as its preferred connection. Although, it does have a USB port as well as a Wi-Fi connection but there’s no reason to purchase this if you plan to print wirelessly.
Another key feature I like is that it is designed to work with the cloud-based Rollo Ship Manager, which you can then connect to multiple online platforms to manage and keep track of all your shipping needs via phone or tablet. On top of that, the Rollo Ship Manager offers shipping discounts, which is ideal for businesses.
You can easily set up your new Rollo Wireless Printer by accessing the online video from the Rollo App. Overall this wireless printer has the advantage over other thermal label printers with its ease of use, with no need to install a driver on your phone. This Rollo label printer is a top pick and if you have a huge daily printing workload, this is the printer to be looking at for consistently high quality.
The Brother PT-P710BT is a smart and compact little thermal printer that can be used to create narrow, plastic labels. You are tied into using Brother's own TZe tapes but these work well and come in 60 different colours and sizes ranging from 6 millimetres to one inch.
It's a wonderfully compact thermal printer but that design comes at a cost to its resolution, which maxes out at 180 dpi. But as you're using this for printing small labels it's not really much of an issue.
The Brother PT-P710BT can be used with desktop and mobile devices, and really its size and nature are built for use with an Android or Apple device. While it can be used over Bluetooth, it's also nice to have the USB 2.0 connected there as a backup. A big plus point is the app that offers icons, images, barcodes, logos and more – there's even a spellchecker.
The Brother VC-500W full colour label pinter is the best thermal printer I've found if you want to print in colour. It is a great choice when it comes to printing labels, offering various sizes ranging from 9-50mm width and they can be up to 50cm long.
The print quality remains high, at 313DPI. This printer allows you print directly from most devices and operating systems, including straight from social media platforms. A nice feature I like is how you can also use the free Colour Label Editor app, which you can download to your device, to edit your photos and choose from thousands of personalised features such as text, borders, filters and emojis.
One of the main downsides to this thermal printer is that the printing rolls are not cheap to purchase, which can make it quite costly to run. However, as long as your labelling tasks aren't high-volume, the Brother VC-500W is a good pick for colour label printing.
The MUNBYN Thermal Shipping Label Printer is a desktop-sized label printer, perfect for small businesses. It is one of the most popular and cost effective out there, coming in unique and vibrant colours compared to other printers, offering the choice of green, pink or white.
With the printer only measuring 7.6 x 4.1 x 3.9 inches, it is smaller than a lot of other desktop printers, making it easy to place in your workspace. It is compatible with some of the most used software and platforms including Adobe, Microsoft, Etsy, eBay and a lot more. The printing speed of the MUNBYN label printer is fast, while the printing quality remains high. It can print up to 72 labels per minute, improving your working efficiency.
If you make your own stickers for your business, then look no further, as the MUNBYN printer offers the ability to create stickers and other sized labels as well as the standard 6 x 4 inches. Apart from these features, the printer comes with a USB which includes a detailed printer installation video tutorial and driver for you to get started quickly.
The Arkscan 2054A is for anyone who wants a basic but approachable thermal printer. If you are looking for a fancy printer, look elsewhere, this one is super easy to setup, taking only minutes, and leaving you without any struggles in doing so.
Although there is nothing fancy about this printer, it is ideal for a business that needs to print 6 x 4-inches shipping labels on a daily basis. The printer is fast and time-saving, printing around 5-inches per second. Though it is slightly bigger than some of the other printer options, it does have the option to use a label roll which is stored in the printer as well as fan-fold stacks.
This printer also has the unique option to make it compatible with Zebra LP2844, meaning it will support some software that only the Zebra printer can usually handle. The printer comes with software included, BarTender UltraLite Label Making Software, with features for text and graphics design. However, this is only available for Windows users so if you use a Mac then not all of these printers’ features will be accessible to you.
Overall, I find this is a versatile thermal printer, with the option to buy a LAN version (at an extra cost) so you can print wireless rather than via USB. I would say this is perfect for those who want a no-frills thermal label printer.
The Phomemo PM-246 Pro is a very compact thermal printer, although you might have to take into consideration the extra space needed for the label holder. This is relatively easy to set up, coming with a USB containing how-to videos, quick guides and drivers so you shouldn’t have any issues with connecting to your printer. However, there is no Bluetooth connectivity so you won’t be able to print directly from your smartphone or tablet.
The printer comes with Labelife editing software which is great for customising your labels. However, just like some of the other printers’ software, this is only available for Windows users currently and cannot be used on a Mac OS.
That being said, it is still extremely versatile when it comes to printing, with the ability to print labels from 1 x 1-inches up to 6 x 4-inches, covering the majority of most commonly used labels – it also comes with a free label holder and some 4 x 6-inches fan-fold labels to get you started.
The Phomemo PM-246 Pro is a great printer for everyday labelling and printing as it’s built for high volume with its ability to run for up to 12 hours straight. Although it doesn’t offer Bluetooth connectivity, as long as you want your printer hooked up to a computer, it would be a great choice.
The Epson TM-T20II is an excellent thermal printer for making receipts, it's really that simple. If you're looking for the best thermal printer for receipts and don't really need one for much else, this is considered one of the best around.
It's a popular thermal printer for small businesses because it's sturdy and consistent; the Epson TM-T20II is a reliable and speedy (200mm per second) thermal printer for receipts. It can be used with Windows and Mac but doesn't have a mobile app or support for Android.
This prints on paper at lengths of 3.125 inches wide and up to 230 inches long so you're not running low too soon. If you're a small business looking for a reliable printer for receipts, the Epson TM-T20II is a popular choice.
The Zebra 4 is a good, modern thermal printer that can support the larger four-inch label side and has a fast 4.25' per second speed to keep those labels coming when you're up against a deadline. This is one of the best thermal printers if you need a fast label maker with consistent and reliable results.
It's a modern machine, with a compact and sleek design and cartridges are easily replaced. It looks good on your desk and once up and running is easy to use with the app. This is also one of the frustrations, as setting up this machine can be a little frustrating. It only works with the app, so like many modern printers you need good WiFi and a second device (laptop, tablet, phone) to get it up and running.
The Brother QL-600B comes in with the trademark blue and white housing and is probably the best thermal printer for those on a budget. This compact label printer allows you to design labels using its free P-touch Editor software. Although this is pretty basic software, it is great for beginners and has everything you would need to make and print custom labels on demand.
One unique feature of this printer is that it allows you to print a multitude of label sizes, without the need to change the roll. Whether you need postage labels, die cut labels or signage; this printer can provide you with that easily. If you need a thermal printer with just the basics, then this is definitely the pick for you.
If you want to print narrow labels for use around the office or home, I would recommend the Brother Cube Plus PT-P710BT. It is ideal for being able to easily and conveniently print labels for folders, supply cabinets, and other items, whilst also being reasonably priced too. The printer itself has simple and compact design, available in either black or white, making it easily transportable and taking up less room in your workspace.
You can also print from both desktop and mobile devices via Bluetooth or USB, making it easy to print on demand. The printer comes with software, available on both Windows and Mac, which allows you to easily create custom labels which could include barcodes, images and logos as well as text. Alternatively, you can connect to your Apple or Android device and use Brother iPrint&Label or P-touch Design & Print apps to create and print labels from your smart device too. Compared to other available printers, the Brother PT-P710BT offers features which are accessible across most devices, either wirelessly or via Bluetooth.
The labels are available in an extensive range of colours and size combinations too, offering widths ranging between 6-24 mm. Admittedly, the 180DPI resolution isn’t the highest, especially when you compare it to other thermal printers, but with the size of the label this isn’t a major issue.
Inside the P-touch CUBE Plus is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with USB charging, that eliminates the need and cost that usually comes with standard alkaline batteries and ensures that your printer is ready to use wherever and whenever you want.
How to choose the best thermal printer
When choosing which thermal printer is the best choice, you need to consider various factors.
For some people, they might want to invest in a thermal printer to help with their small business whereas others might need one for a more commercial business. Others might also just want one to label and organise around their home, so each of these people would have different priorities when it comes to making the best choice for them.
Whether the thermal printer is USB connected or wireless might be a deciding factor for some people. If you want to be able to print from mobile devices then wireless is the way to go. However, you need to be prepared to pay more if you want the luxury of wireless connectivity and portability.
You will also need to consider the print speed and label size compatibility. Businesses are more likely to need to print shipping labels so they need to purchase a thermal printer that can accommodate this; Those wanting a printer to simply label and organise can most likely get away with a printer that focuses on smaller-scale printing.
We included a range of products in this guide, highlighting the key factors that you might want to take into account for example the size of the printer itself, efficiency, and its OS compatibility.