Project Description

Thermal Printer


Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, User Experience (UX/UI), Industrial

Background and Challenges

Business-critical printing solution leader Printronix engaged Nectar to develop and apply a new brand design language across its line matrix and thermal printer offerings in order to unify and strengthen the company’s combined brand identity. In addition, they asked us to create the interface for the new printer. Some of the big challenges included navigation through a large sitemap, innovating new help and setup functionality, and specific complex UI controls with the limited physical UI (ex: alphanumeric inputs).

Giving Industrial Printers a Brand Design Makeover

Business-critical printing solution leader Printronix needed to create and implement a new brand design language for its two primary product lines following its acquisition of the TallyGenicom brand. The company now offers the two most-trusted brands in industrial, back office, and supply chain printing, which are well known and regarded throughout manufacturing, distribution, retail, banking, healthcare, government, and other industries worldwide.

Evolving a More Capable Product Line

While the goal of communicating a brand image of industrial strength, reliability, durability, and robustness was the same, revamping the Printronix family of industrial line matrix and thermal printers was especially challenging because the two types of printers are so different. Industrial line matrix and thermal printers utilize dissimilar technology platforms, require different form factors, handle various label/paper sizes, and serve unrelated markets.

The new brand designs also had to adhere to an evolutionary rollout strategy—adding more capabilities to distinguish the products as new while remaining familiar to the look and feel of previous models for existing customers—as well as withstand the potential for damage during shipping.

Blending Creativity with Sound Engineering

Nectar worked closely with the Printronix development team to create a fresh, exciting brand design language for the company’s industrial line matrix and thermal printers. Drawing on its industrial design and mechanical engineering expertise, Nectar balanced creativity with the limitations of the rollout strategy to revitalize the Printronix brands while remaining true to the expectations of current customers.

Both the line matrix and thermal printer product lines included multiple SKUs of increasing levels of functionality and label/paper size capabilities. Nectar also fabricated the housings from sheet metal to withstand the abuse of industrial shipping environments.

Delivering Innovation in Printer Design

Printronix customers have reacted positively to the new brand design language, which the company has applied to several new line matrix printer products and the T2 thermal printer line. Not only did Nectar achieve the objectives that Printronix established for the project, the firm also added value at key points in the process. For example, Nectar helped Printronix develop a new design language using sheet metal despite its forming, shaping, and detailing limitations.

Nectar enabled Printronix to create new products in a manner that lessened the impact of tooling transition costs. In short, Nectar gave Printronix printers an exciting brand design makeover while controlling costs and remaining true to the intrinsic qualities of the brand.

UX/UI Research

Competitive Analysis – The team was able to demo an array of similar printers from other companies as well as the legacy printer UI to be replaced. By interacting with the various examples, we were able to identify the successes and failures of each.

Inspiration – We also looked at other industrial interfaces to get a feel for best practices, standard colors, and any other random design inspiration to be used.

Design Patterns – For certain interactions, we looked at how other products executed the same functions. For example, we looked at icon driven navigation, alphanumeric entry, error messaging and resolution, setup wizard, menu styles, and more.

Information Architecture

We consolidated the menu architecture, created workflows for setup wizard, faults, help, and more. Also looked at user permissions.


We started with whiteboard concepts and quickly moved to digital wireframing. We iterated on options for the main menu and the use of icons there. We also explored a variety of input styles for the various settings pages. The display through the page levels was also given a lot of thought and development, ultimately deciding on a main menu with icons, followed by cascading menus.

Look & Feel / Visual Development

We consolidated the menu architecture, created workflows for setup wizard, faults, help, looked at user permissions and more.

Icons started with hand sketches and research on different icon styles. There was a consensus to go with a flat feel. The first pass of the icons were single color, which eventually evolved into two color for active states. The selection style was also determined.


There were a great deal of iterations and concepts to arrive at our final look and feel palette. In the end, we arrived at a light color scheme of white and blues, with green accents. This allows color to be used to highlight important scenarios like warnings. The icon designs are two colors and relatively flat.