Dymo equips paper rolls for thermal direct printers with RFID chips for identification

Stop - Pixabay[German]The U.S. civil liberties organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has just made public another case of lockin for printer consumables. Printer manufacturer Dymo has equipped its latest generations of thermal direct printers with a new ruse to force the use of the manufacturer's consumables. Rolls of thermal paper for these printers will be equipped with RFID chips for identification. This prevents users from using third-party thermal paper or labels in these devices. Dymo touts the benefits of automatic detection of label types and automatic counting of remaining labels. The pleasant side effect is that the customer has to buy the thermal papers from Dymo, regardless of the price.


The American company Dymo is known for its labeling technology. For decades, it has had the plastic adhesive tapes into which a label can be imprinted. The company has been around since 1958 and they also make thermal direct printers. 

Now with printers, there are usually two types of consumables: paper and ink or toner. It has long been known that printer manufacturers use chips to prevent the use of third-party toner or ink (see links at the end of the article). But with thermal direct printers, there is no toner or ink as a consumable. Dymo advertises that "direct thermal printers eliminate the need to buy expensive ink or toner."

But how to get customers to use the printer manufacturer's consumables? At HP, there have been thoughts of querying the paper type in the printer and supplying customers with the paper for printers on a subscription basis. Dymo has now done it more cleverly with its thermal direct printers. In the Dymo 550 and Dymo 5XL models, the manufacturer equips the ektikette rolls with RFID chips for identification. 

 Dymo 550
Offer for a Dymo LabelWriter 550 Turbo Termodirekt printer

Officially, Dymo justifies this by saying that this enables automatic recognition of label types and automatic counting of remaining labels. The pleasant side effect, which, however, is not communicated: Labels without these RFID chips are no longer accepted. On YouTube there is this video where someone warns of the Dymo devices. He inserted foreign paper into such a printer and received a warning that the printer did not recognize the roll, so it refuse to work.  


Warnung vor Dymo LabelWriter 550 und Fremdpapier
Warning about Dymo LabelWriter 550 and foreign paper.

A label manufacturer also warns against this Dymo RFID approach on its website (see screenshot above). The customer has to buy the thermal papers for label printing from Dymo, no matter at what price (alternative paper rolls cost about 1/3 of the manufacturer's price).  And he is also denied thermal paper rolls from other manufacturers, which may be offered for special purposes, when used on these printers. The EFF has made the case public in this article.

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