A thermal label printer produces fixed size labels (barcodes) for product identification and asset tracking. These printers are specifically designed for markets such as logistics, gaming, vehicle rental, pharmaceuticals and retail.
Primary design considerations of such a device include fast start-up printing, high resolution output and optimized printing speeds. A thermal label printer is also likely to feature Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet, as well as a Flash disk, SDCard, RFID and various ports.
Atmel’s SAMA5D3 (ARM) Cortex-A5 based eMPU, along with the AT30TSE Serial EEPROM (+temp sensor) and ATtiny/AT42QT Touch ICs, can be used to build a multi-purpose thermal label printer that fulfills the above-mentioned design requirements.
“Atmel’s ATSAMA5D3 eMPU offers powerful CPU operating performance and a high level of integration to address the needs of high-end thermal label printers,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces.
“First off, the Cortex-A5 can be clocked up to 536MHz (850DMIPS). There is also 32KBytes D-Cache, 32KBytes I-Cache, 32-bit DDR2/LPDDR2, as well as a NAND Flash memory interface that facilitates fast boot times and high speed data storage. Meanwhile, an (additional) external 16-bit interface is available for external FPGA-based print engines, along with a high-speed SPI/UART/I2C to support high-speed thermal printer heads.”
The engineering rep noted that Atmel’s SAMA5D3-based platform boasts three fully independent HS USB Host/Device with on chip transceivers, along with three independent SDIO controllers supporting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and SDCard/Flash disk storage. There is also an embedded Ethernet MAC 10/100 and Gigabit Ethernet MAC 10/100/1000.
“In terms of integration capabilities, we offer integrated SPI, TWI, USART, SSC, 10-bit ADC, SDIO and EBI – all of which facilitate connections to a number of components including a thermal printer head, RFID module, RS232, LCD module, multiple external Micro SD cards, external SDIO wireless modules, serial flash and temperature sensor,” the engineering rep added.
“Lastly, a 160 programmable I/O line supports multiple system peripherals and tasks, such as motors, ribbon, cutter, rewind, backlight, buzzer and sensors.”
On the software side of things, Atmel’s SAMA5D3 supports an extensive development ecosystem and offers Linux 3.6.6 OS support including sources, pre-built demos with installation scripts, build instructions, as well as a plethora of tips and tricks. Plus, the ATSAMA5D3x-EK offers free packages to enable rapid evaluation and coding.
Additional information about Atmel’s ATSAMA5D3 Cortex-A5 based eMPU can be found here.