What’s the best printer for shipping labels? While a Zebra printer may be the first option that comes to mind, Rollo printers can be just as effective and more affordable. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both printers and more to help you find the best shipping label printer here!

Zebra Shipping Label Printer

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Rollo Shipping Label Printer

Source: Pinterest

When it comes to choosing the best printer for shipping labels, there are a few factors to consider. The first option that may come to mind is a Zebra printer, but Rollo printers can be just as effective and more affordable. However, there are major considerations you need to take into account when choosing your printer to decide which one can complete the job most effectively.

Zebra printers are more popular, but there are several Rollo models that work well for shipping labels among other things. Either way, Zebra and Rollo printers are among the best options if you want a thermal printer for shipping labels. Here, we are going to compare Zebra and Rollo labels printers to help you decide which one is best for your needs.

Can you use any Label Printer when Printing your Shipping Labels?

While any printer can technically print shipping labels, some printers are better suited for the task than others. In particular, a Zebra printer is often seen as the best option for printing shipping labels, as they are specifically designed for this purpose.

However, Rollo printers can also be used to print shipping labels, and they often come at a fraction of the cost of a Zebra printer. So which printer is right for you? Keep on reading to know more!

What type of Shipping Label Printer for Printing?

Although it is practical to use your existing inkjet or laser printer for printing your shipping labels, it may not always be that practical. Desktop printers can only print on 8 ½” x 11” paper, so you can just cut the paper in half and print two shipping labels on 1 paper.

However, if you will only be printing one label, the other half will go to waste and you will be consuming more ink or toner frequently. With dedicated shipping label printers, there will be less waste and you might have more savings in the long run.

When it comes to shipping label printers, there are two types of printers that you can choose from: direct thermal and thermal transfer.

#1 Direct Thermal Label Printers

Direct thermal printers use heat to activate an ink that is deposited on the label. The problem with these printers is that when debris or dust on the labels comes into contact with the printhead, it can damage your printer as well as result in poor-quality prints. Also, if you use too abrasive labels, they can damage the printhead too.

With the issue of the print quality in direct thermal printers, barcodes will become hard to read and cause inefficiencies in the supply chain. Moreover, the life of direct thermal-printed labels won’t be as long as that of thermal transfer-printed labels.

#2 Thermal Transfer Label Printers

On the other hand, thermal transfer printers use a ribbon that contains the ink. Thermal transfer printers are generally more reliable than direct thermal printers, and they produce higher-quality prints. However, they are also more expensive and require more maintenance.

Moreover, while debris and dust can also exist in these printers, the debris won’t be in contact with their printheads which reduces potential damages. This reduces the overall maintenance costs of the printer. Thus, while thermal transfer label printers are more expensive when only the initial investment is considered, they offer a better long-term investment.

When should you use a Direct Thermal and Thermal Label Printer?

Based on the pros and cons of direct thermal and thermal transfer printers we’ve discussed, each has its own appropriate uses which we have listed below:

Recommended Uses of A Direct Thermal Printer

  • If your label won’t be exposed to harsh conditions and won’t be in the supply chain that long. Examples of packages are parcels, dairy products, and fresh meat.
  • For low-volume printing in small to medium-sized businesses

Recommended Uses of A Thermal Transfer Printer

  • For extreme environmental conditions like chemical contact or direct sunlight
  • If your product will spend a long time in the supply chain
  • Better used for building materials that are stored outdoors and transported unprotected
  • If the label details are extremely critical and requires readable details for an extended period of time like hazardous materials and pharmaceutical products

In Summary…

If you need a printer that can print high-quality barcodes and texts, print labels that will be exposed to harsh environmental conditions, and need long-lasting labels, then a thermal transfer printer is the best option.

On the other hand, if you just need a printer to print simple text or logos on labels and your labels are for short-term applications, then a direct thermal printer will work fine.


Also Read: What’s the Best Thermal Printer for Shipping Labels?

What is the best Shipping Label Printer?

Although we’ve mentioned before that thermal transfer printers are better, many people still choose direct thermal labels because of their affordability which is ideal for small businesses. Among the most popular direct thermal printers are Rollo printers, but Zebra is also another printer that is preferred today.

Rollo, a direct thermal printer manufacturer, has been selling printers to customers throughout the world for years. A Rollo label printer can be used to print postage labels, address labels, and more. 

Zebra is another label printer manufacturer that specializes in name-brand printers with high cost/value ratios. They offer both direct thermal and thermal transfer printers, unlike Rollo that only offers direct thermal label printers.

So now that you know that Zebra and Rollo are your best options when looking for a shipping label printer, which printer is better?

#1 Zebra Label Printer

Zebra ZD220 Shipping Label Printer

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Bottom Line: Zebra is a more expensive shipping labels printer but provides better investment in the long run. It is ideal for creating premium-quality prints for more accurate shipping labels. Plus, it is a more popular label printer than Rollo.

Many companies choose Zebra printers when they want to print shipping labels because of their reliability. These printers come in many different sizes and styles, so it is easy for a company to find one to fit their needs. They also produce higher quality results with highly detailed text and graphics (including barcodes) even on glossy paper labels.

However, these printers are typically more expensive than other models, so companies may want to shop around for the best deal. Although this may be the case, these printers are extremely durable and offer better performance than Rollo.


  • Produces phenomenal high-quality labels
  • Reliable, sturdy printer
  • Supports both roll and fanfold labels
  • Ideal for shipping labels that require more accurate prints
  • Better recommended for high-volume label printing (especially Zebra ZT230)
  • Can include a label holder
  • More popular brand than Rollo so a lot of people recommend them
  • Great for having a stationary printer


  • More expensive than other models
  • More complicated setup process
  • Standard Zebra drivers are not efficient when printing labels on your PC. Third-party drivers, like Seagull Scientific Driver, are better.
  • Most models only support roll labels (Zebra GK420d, though, supports fanfold labels)
  • Networking it may require a lot of work (finicky drivers and limited software)

#2 Rollo Label Printer

Source: Pinterest

Bottom Line: They are affordable and dynamic options more recommended for high-volume shipping label printing that offer some flexibility that you can find in higher-end label printers. However, Zebra’s print quality is better.

Rollo printers are an excellent alternative to Zebra printers when you want to print shipping labels but are on a tight budget. The best part is that they are inexpensive but can still produce good quality results (although not as good as Zebra). 

In fact, you can’t rely on Rollo printers to produce high-quality barcodes, so you can’t use them to create coupon codes or scan items when they are in the store. Regardless, their cost-effectiveness is very helpful for small business owners who want to keep costs low without sacrificing quality.


  • Compact size
  • Supports both roll and fanfold labels
  • Cost-effective, especially for small to moderate-size business owners
  • Can be faster than some of Zebra’s printers but will only work best when kept under 100 mm/second
  • More ideal for low to medium-volume shippers
  • Easier to set up (plug-and-play) and clean
  • Compatible with most shipping platforms, online marketplaces, and shipping couriers


  • May take longer to print shipping labels than a Zebra printer would (this is dependent on the type of Rollo printer)
  • Less print quality compared to Zebra and lacks the sharpness that Zebra offers (but still readable and scannable)
  • You need to buy a separate label holder
  • Although it can also print up to 300 DPI, the print speed will be slower
  • High-volume printing is possible but is not recommended
  • Limited network capability

Factors to consider when shopping for Shipping Label Printers

Let’s end our discussion by giving you a few tips on how to choose a label printer that is best suited for your application. Below are the things that you might want to consider:


The Type of Printer You Need

The first thing you should do is figure out what type of printer will meet your needs. Rollo printers are best for the smallest shipping labels, while Zebra printers are better for bigger labels. If you’re printing small postage labels that you need ASAP, then a Rollo printer will be the fastest choice. A Zebra printer will have an equally fast print speed but will require more ink.


Ease of Use

Next, you should think about the ease of use of each printer. Larger Zebra printers are bulky and can be difficult to move, while smaller Rollo printers are lightweight and easy to handle. If you’re printing labels alone or have someone else who can help, then either printer will do fine. However, if you’re printing labels on your own, the Rollo printer is more convenient.


Your Budget

Besides print speed and ease of use, you should also consider the price for each label printer. Zebra printers are usually more expensive than Rollos because they produce larger prints faster. On the other hand, Rollo printers are more affordable and can be purchased for about the same price as ink.


Your Print Volume

After you’ve considered everything above, look at how you print shipping labels. If you need to print a large quantity on a regular basis, Rollos will be easier because they use less ink than Zebra printers. Also, if you’re printing postage labels, you can make Rollo printers more affordable by purchasing reusable labels.

So In Summary…

In conclusion, the best printer for shipping labels depends on your specific needs and how often you use it. Zebra printers are best for large shipments that need to be mailed immediately, while Rollos are better for small batches or single-use. Also, Zebra printers may be more expensive upfront but use less ink in the long run. The best printer for shipping labels is really a matter of preference.   

Buy Rollo & Zebra 4x6 Shipping Labels from enKo Products

If you want high-quality labels that can give you the best savings, check out enKo Products affordable direct thermal labels and Rollo fanfold shipping labels below:

  • 4″ x 6″ direct thermal labels
  • 1″ core
  • 220 labels/roll
  • With perforation for easy tearing
  • 4″ x 6″ direct thermal labels
  • 2,000 labels/pack
  • With perforation for easy tearing
  • 4″ x 6″ direct thermal labels
  • 500 labels/pack
  • With perforation for easy tearing

Final Thoughts

A good shipping label printer can either make or break the process. That is why choosing a reliable printer that is also worth your money is crucial.

Zebra printers are known for their quality and precision, making them a popular option for printing shipping labels. However, they can also be quite expensive. Rollo printers are a more affordable alternative that still offer good quality prints. For small to medium-sized businesses, we recommend Rollo. Choose Zebra otherwise.

Below are other shipping label printer guides that you can also read:

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