Clean Start™ Helps Maximize Your Thermal Transfer Printer Performance

Maximize Your Thermal Transfer Printer Performance

Maintaining printheads will maximize your thermal transfer printer performance!

At PaladinID, we sell thermal transfer printers, printer ribbons and printheads.   Our friends at iimak have put together this helpful guide on how to get the maximum performance for your printheads and keeping the printing process humming along.  We’re sharing iimak’s report as a three-part series.

Thermal transfer printers need regular care to maintain their performance just like a car needs its oil changed. Typically, printer OEMs recommend cleaning the printhead after every ribbon has been fully consumed. This will help you maximize your thermal transfer printer performance and assures print quality does not degrade over time and the printhead does not prematurely fail. However, research shows that less than 10% of people follow the manufacturer’s printhead cleaning recommendations.  Perhaps it’s because cleaning a printhead is it is inconvenient, time-consuming and not top of mind.

Dirt and residue from the ribbon, label stock, and the environment are deposited on the printhead during the printing process. If the printhead is not cleaned regularly, the residue eventually becomes permanent, similar to plaque, and creates a barrier between the printhead element and the label stock. This residue causes print quality issues such as lighter print, pits and voids, as well as streaking, all of which shorten a printhead life.

Printhead Cleaner


Cleaning removes dirt and debris before it bakes onto the printhead elements. Here are some factors that affect buildup

  • Complex label format
  • Faster print speeds
  • High heat settings
  • High volume printing
  • Poor quality ribbons
  • Low quality label stock

These are conditions in thermal transfer printing that accelerate printhead buildup.

All thermal transfer ribbons have a “backcoat” that serves as a protective layer between the printhead and ribbon’s base film, allowing the ribbon to slide smoothly under the printhead. Because all backcoats leave residue on the printhead, it is necessary to clean the printhead regularly to avoid buildup.

Iimak has developed a new innovation called Clean Start™, which is a Built-in Printhead Cleaner.  Clean Start was invented to encourage printhead cleaning and make it easy,  Clean Start is built into the ribbon leader of the thermal transfer ribbon. Clean Start is a thin, white film coated with a mild cleanser that gets pulled through the locked printhead at the start of each ribbon load to remove residue before it builds up.  Clean Start works on wax thermal transfer ribbons, wax/resin and resin ribbons.  See our Clean Start ribbons in our store.  Our Zebra ribbon product line is live in the store.  We also carry Clean Start ribbons for Datamax, Intermec, Sato and Printronix as well.  

Download the Clean Start Performance Report


Interested in how to Maximize Your Thermal Transfer Printer Performance, Give Us A Call!

For more information on PaladinID


Get Help With Your Next Label Project

We have over 35 years of providing exceptional service and labeling products to the world.  Take the first step to an easy, stress-free solution for your label needs by contacting us.

Schedule a call below or email

Make Your Mark

“Making companies more competitive by offering the correct label printing solution, on time, within budget, while creating unmatched value”.

About PaladinID, LLC
PaladinID develops and supports high-performance barcode labeling applications. We work with our clients to “Make Your Mark” by providing the expertise and tools necessary to create an entire product label printing solution. Located in central New Hampshire, PaladinID has been serving Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New England, and beyond for over 30 years, and in 2017, became an RFID-certified company. We look forward to working with you.

You may be interested in our other services:

Product Labels

Product Labels

Labels for every type of application: Blank, Pre-printed, Variable data

Label Printers

Label Printers

We sell and support: Direct/thermal transfer, Inkjet, Laser

Printer Ribbons

Printer Ribbons

We sell ribbons for ALL barcode printers including: Zebra, Datamax, Sato, Intermec

Flexible Packaging

Flexible Packaging

We offer a wide variety of packaging containers for your products.

Label Software

Label Software

Software for all barcode printing and product labeling.

Label applicators

Label Applicators

Wide selection of applicators: Desktop/Mobile, Applicator only, Print & apply