Looking for direct thermal shipping label printers so you can save on toner and ink? If you’re still printing shipping labels with printers that use ink, you’re wasting time and money. Laser printers don’t use ink, but you’re still replacing toner cartridges and maybe drums. Both are very costly if you go OEM, and if you use generics, you’ll end up getting smudges and smears.
We’ll survey some of the more popular direct thermal shipping label printers on Amazon and elsewhere that print wide 4″ x 6″ shipping labels. Choose one that will work for you. Prices listed are at the time of publication. You can always check the price history at a price tracker like CamelCamelCamel.
Why direct thermal instead of thermal transfer? Direct thermal printers have some advantages over thermal transfer printers for shipping purposes. The main advantage is that direct thermal printers don’t require ribbons and are more flexible with labels. Thermal transfer printers require ribbons and specialized labels for compatibility.
If you use UPS labels, then you’ll need a direct thermal printer.
All the printers we survey in this article are Windows and Mac compatible, and they’re connected via USB unless otherwise stated. Extra features like Bluetooth connectivity may be available on the upgraded models.
Looking for some shipping integrations? Read our article on 8 popular shipping integrations for Amazon.
Citizen isn’t really a well-known consumer brand when it comes to printers, but it’s a familiar name in for enterprise users. Many small businesses use Citizen products for logistics and retail solutions.
This printer is currently on sale at Newegg for $211.19. Online reviews for this unit are scarce, but that can be a good sign since people are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones.
Some features of the CL-E300 are:
- Onboard LAN with Citizen LinkServer and USB and Serial interfaces
- 203 dpi and 300 dpi
- Prints at 200 mm/s at 203 dpi and 150 mm/s at 300 dpi
- Has different versions for 203 dpi, 300 dpi, cutter and peeler
Many organizations use Brother printers, so you may already be familiar with the brand. If you’re a fan of Brother printers, then this may be the printer for you. One feature that stands out is Android support and SDK, allowing you to create your own apps to integrate this printer with your workflow.
This Brother label printer is $179.99, so it’s roughly the same price as the other competitors on this list.
The most helpful Verified Purchase critical review at 1 star from M D K claims that the printer is difficult to configure.
The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 4 stars from E Garcia says that the printer works with El Capitan and Endicia after some minor printer setting adjustments.
Like the DYMO printer, this Brother label printer recommends Brother labels, though you can find generics at a lower price on Amazon.
Features of the Brother QL-1100 model include:
- Barcode crop function to select barcodes and UPCs for printing from templates (for Windows only)
- Create and print labels without software (for Windows only)
- Brother SDK for Windows and Android
- Automatic calibration and cutter
- 300 dpi
- Mobile support for Android printing via USB (or wireless with QL-1100NWB)
DYMO is one of the most popular label printers on the market. This label printer has 3.5 stars with over 2,100 customer reviews. Chances are you’ve heard or read about DYMO printers or you’re using one already.
The most helpful Verified Purchase critical review at 1 star from Sherilynn Macale claims that it stops working randomly.
The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 4 stars from VGReviews states that the printer prints from the USPS site only through DYMO Stamps (Endicia) and that the workaround requires a lot of steps (approximately 14 clicks).
This printer is currently priced on sale at $177.80 down from the listing price of $279.00 for just the machine (no labels). The DYMO label printer uses DYMO labels, so you won’t be able to use your UPS labels with this printer. There are cheaper generics available if you don’t want the DYMO labels.
Features of the DYMO LabelWriter 4XL include:
- over 60 label templates to customize your shipping labels
- print labels directly from eBay, Amazon, Etsy
- compatible with Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, and more
- compatible with all major shipping carriers
- 300 dpi
- prints extra large shipping labels up to 4″ x 6″
If you’re looking for other DYMO label printers (non-wide), then other popular models on Amazon include:
- DYMO Label Writer 450 Turbo with 4.5 stars and over 1,700 reviews
- DYMO Label Writer 450 with 4.5 stars and over 900 reviews
- DYMO LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo with 4 stars and over 700 reviews
The lowest priced printer on this list, the MFLABEL printer costs only $109.99 and has 3 stars with over 40 reviews. This generic label printer is very barebones, with no software like DYMO or Brother included. The printer includes a link to the drivers for installation. If you’re willing to take some time and configure the printer and learn, then you may be able to save a few bucks with this printer.
Otherwise, you’ll probably want to go with the major brands like DYMO or Brother for ease of setup and availability of support.
The most helpful Verified Purchase critical review at 2 stars from jusbzness says that the printer may work for PC users but that it didn’t work for Mac despite the specifications. User jusbzness claims to have followed instructions for setting up with Mac but that it ultimately didn’t work.
The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 5 stars from Alana S. tells customers to be patient. Alana S. advises that Paypal users should change the printer setting to Zebra LP2844 to print labels correctly.
Features for the MFLABEL printer include:
- Compatible with Windows XP and above as well as Mac (see critical review above)
- Works with eBay, Etsy, UPS, USPS, and more
This Rollo label printer is marketed as a fast, commercial-grade thermal printer. It has 4.5 stars at over 500 reviews. There’s also an additional label holder accessory for $19.99 that you can purchase for your roll labels.
The most helpful Top 1000 Vine Voice critical review at 2 stars from Kevin Nicholls claims that integration with ShippingEasy required a lot of configuring to get it to print correctly. Calibrating the printer for different labels between prints was also problematic.
The most helpful Verified Purchase positive review at 5 stars from RestoreYourHouse lists several features of the printer that are excellent, including the ability to print different label sizes, the use of any direct thermal labels, automatic calibration, and fast printing.
It’s currently priced at $169.99 with free shipping.
Features for this Rollo thermal label printer include:
- up to 5,000 labels per day
- prints up to 150 mm/s (about one standard 4″ x 6″ shipping label per second)
- supports label width between 1.57 inches (4 cm) to 4.1 inches (10.4 cm)
- automatic label size detection
- compatible with any direct thermal labels, including UPS labels
- can print barcodes
- compatible with all shipping platforms like ShippingEasy, ShipWorks, Shippo, Ordoro, and more
What about all the Zebra label printers? The latest Zebra printer models aren’t readily available on Amazon. Those Zebra printers that are available are outside the scope of this article, or they are older models that may have discontinued support. One popular Zebra printer that is now discontinued is the Zebra LP2844. You should be able to find this on eBay for about $100 shipped.
Instead, the link is from Monoprice for the GC420d and GK420d models. One major difference between the two models is the printing speed. The GC420d prints at 240.9″ per minute, while the GK420d prints at 300″ per minute.
Monoprice currently sells the GC420d model for $259.99 and the GK420d model for $399.99.
Both printers support wide-format shipping label printing for 4″ x 6″ labels. Zebra devices are very sturdy and reliable, and they’re used in many industries. If you’re also looking for an enterprise printer, then the industrial Zebra label printers may be the solution for you.
Other features include:
- Compatible with 500-label Zebra roll
- 203 dpi for clear prints
- Parallel, serial, and USB ports for legacy devices
- All-metal printhead for more durability
Most, if not all, of the direct thermal printers in this article will work with any shipping integration you’re using. So long as the printer is installed properly, you’ll just need to configure the printer and integration a bit.
Two other direct thermal printers that you may be interested in are listed below.
Printing, cutting, and taping pieces of paper for shipping isn’t an ideal process for many sellers. First, it’s difficult to scale up that type of operation since it’s so time-consuming. Secondly, it looks very unprofessional to cut pieces of paper or labels. While many customers won’t care, it doesn’t look professional for the business. Finally, all that wasted time can be reallocated to other parts of the business for better efficiency.
Use of these thermal wide-format shipping label printers to speed up your shipping workflow. Many of these will integrate with the 8 shipping integrations we’ve linked at the beginning of this article. Then it’s just a matter of clicking on print to quickly print all the labels you’ll need. Save time. Save labor costs, and reduce shipping mistakes with any one of these printers.
Looking for impulse sealers? Check out this article to see the 5 top-rated impulse heat sealers on Amazon.