Label Printers and Barcode Printers
What’s the first thing you notice as a buyer when you look at a product on the shelf of a retail store?
It’s the product’s label.
Good labelling of products is essential to identify products and ensure efficiency in product processing and handling. Besides, labelling also provides accurate information about a product for the prospective customer to make informed decisions. Some other ways quality product labels can benefit your business include creating a first impression of your product and brand, distinguishing your brand from competitors and distinguishing between different qualities of products.
To benefit from effective product labelling, however, you must invest in the most efficient printer for your business.
What is A Label Printer?
A label printer, sometime also referred to as barcode printer, is a special-purpose printer designed to print labels, bar codes and tags for a variety of industries. However, certain models are specifically engineered to print on film and foil substrates. For instance, barcode printers are commonly used to print pricing tags, shipping and packaging labels in the retail industry. The health sector uses these printers to generate patient ID cards and wristbands while the food and beverage industry uses label printers to inscribe important information about ingredients, allergens and storage instructions on labels. Moreover, label printers are also used to generate visitor identification badges and hazard warning labels in some companies.
How Do Label Printers Work?
A label printer typically integrates with a computer to operate or work as a standalone device with its built-in operating system. The latter is often called a label maker – a type of label printer that has an in-built keyboard and a display and cannot be connected to an external computer device. These printers are widely used in laboratories, supply chain management and fixed assets management etc.
Label printers use different types of printing mechanisms – label printing, thermal printing and impact printing. Thermal printing technology is at the core of the label printer operation. There are two types of thermal label printers -thermal transfers and direct thermal printers.
Direct Thermal Label Printers
Unlike traditional printers that require an ink ribbon or toner, these use heat to print labels, barcodes, graphics and texts. As the name suggests, direct thermal printing requires the print head elements to be in direct contact with the label material as it passes through the print head.
These printers use heat-sensitive paper which is typically used for short duration applications. Printouts from direct thermal printers are extremely heat- and light-sensitive and may fade over the duration of 6-8 months.
Direct thermal printers are commonly used to generate receipts, name tags, shipping labels and event tickets is best used to print short shelf life monochromatic labels. Since it does not require any ink ribbon and consumable replacement, a direct thermal label printer makes for easier use and a lower printing cost per label. However, the output from a direct thermal printer is not as durable and thus these are not recommended for demanding environments or conditions.
Thermal Transfer Printers
Integrated with a different mechanism than their counterpart, thermal transfer printers use heated carbon ribbons in either wax or resin grades to produce high-density printouts which have a much longer shelf life than outputs from direct thermal printers. Since these printers utilise roll-form labels and printing ribbons, less heat is used in the process to transfer a printed image, allowing you to produce long-lasting, quality images on a wide variety of materials.
Printouts from these printers can be easily identified by their crisp and often glossy printed surface. Common applications of thermal transfer printers include product identification, record keeping, signage, asset tags, product ID, lab specimens, circuit board manufacture, outdoor and cold storage.
Besides, you can choose from the most extensive range of adhesives to meet your special labelling requirements. When matched with appropriate media, a thermal transfer printer creates a strong print bond which eliminates the need for protective film laminates.
How to choose the right label printer for your business?
With a comprehensive variety of label printers available online, finding the one that meets the demands of your business operation can be a challenge.
In order to find the right label printer for your business, it is important to determine what exactly you are going to use it for. Therefore, the first step is determining your needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is label printing a temporary or ongoing requirement of your company?
How often will you be printing labels?
How many labels do you need to print at once?
How much does print quality matter to your product or service?
What size of labels does your business prefer?
Does your business demand on-the-go printing?
Answers to these questions along with budget and other key requirements will help you differentiate between different label printer models and make a fruitful decision. Furthermore, here’s a quick look at some key considerations to keep in mind when choosing your label printer.
This is an ideal choice for businesses with limited space. It costs less and is easier to use but needs frequent label and thermal ribbon replacements than a larger industrial printer.
Industrial Barcode Printer
Usually featuring a metal body, these printers are fast and can print for longer durations of time without needing replacements. Due to their bulky body and larger size, industrial printers take up more space and are also expensive than their counterparts.
These printers are gaining much popularity for offering businesses the flexibility of printing on the go, boost operational efficiency and save time.
Print Width with Label Size
Once you know what size of label printer you need, the next aspect to consider is print width. If you know the maximum label width you need, you can choose from a range of label printers the are manufactured in varied print widths including 2, 4, 6 and 8. Besides, most modern printers are designed to print up to 104 mm wide.
The most common way to connect a bar code label printer to a computer is USB. If you want multiple users to connect at the same time, you are better off with a label printer that supports Ethernet (LAN connectivity). In addition, Bluetooth and WiFi are go-to options for those who are on the go and need to connect their printer to a PC or mobile device.
Maintenance and Operational Costs
Investing in the cheapest label printer you see or the first printer that fits your budget, can cost you more in the long run. In addition to the initial cost of a printer, determine the estimate of the annual cost of running and maintaining the device and replacing consumables like ink ribbons and cartridges. You also need to consider the cost of setting up your printers and training the staff.
At POS Plaza, we not only offer a huge spectrum of barcode/label printers to choose from, but also make sure you can stock up on necessary label printing consumables to keep your business running smoothly and deliver maximum customer satisfaction.
From Dymo LabelWriter 450 to ZEBRA GK420D, we offer the most efficient yet cheap solutions from reputed brands like Zebra, Dymo and Bixolon for your professional, commercial tag, label and sticker printing, filing, marketing and mailing requirements.