The principal operation of both printheads is the same. For printing with both systems is a printhead, thermal transfer ribbon, and media (eg labels) required. The big difference is the ink transfer and the headconstruction. This headconstruction and price are the two most important subjects to choose between a flathead or a near-edge printer.
Flathead: The flathead technology was the first technology for printing barcodes and variable information on labels. This printhead was develloped in 1965 by Texas Instruments. The printhead is flat and horizontal, and the heatingelement of the head are more then less in the middle of the printingpart. This means that the inktribbon together with the labels are in contact for a short distance (3-5mm), before the label the printposition is passing. The ink is underneath the heatingelement transferred to the labels. The consumption of the inkt ribbon is the same as the labels. The printspeed for a flathead printer is max. 300mm per sec.
Flathead printsuppliers are mainly: Zebra, Datamax, Sato, Intermec.
Near-edge printing constist of 2 different printheads. De corner edge printhead and the true edge printhead. The operation of both heads is the same.
The corner edge printhead is working at an angle of 45 degrees. The heating element is placed at the edge of the printhead. The ink ribbon has minimum contact (0,1-0,3mm) with the labels. This means that the inktransfer must be a lot faster to the labels.
The true edge printhead is working at an angle of 90 degrees. The heating element is placed at the edge of the printhead. The ink ribbon has minimum contact (0,1-0,3mm) with the labels. This means that the inktransfer must be a lot faster to the labels.
The big advance of near-edge printheads is that they are only use ink ribbon where is printed on the labels. This means there is a properly ribbon saving. The near-edge printers do also have a maximum printspeed of 600mm per second, and they are able to print on a bigger diversity of materials. However the near-edge printheads are in general more expensive than the conventional flathead printheads.
Near-edge printersuppliers are mainly: Videojet, Markem, Bell-Mark, Avery, Toshiba-Tec