Barcodes can be found almost everywhere you look. From the packaging of the food we consume to the everyday products and services we use in our daily lives. Barcode printers are primarily used in organizations that require a large number of labels to be printed such as for shipping goods or asset tracking. While you could print barcodes using your inkjet or laser printer, these devices aren’t designed to print a high volume of labels. In fact the operating costs to maintain an inkjet or laser printer for such tasks are extremely high. Barcode printers are much more cost effective and require low maintenance in comparison. There are 2 types of barcode printers in the market today, ‘Direct Thermal’ and ‘Thermal Transfer’.
The Direct Thermal printers make use of media that is chemically coated to react to temperature. The Thermal print head in the printer heats up and the coated paper darkens as it passes under it creating a printed impression of the barcode. The benefit of this technology is that you don’t need to buy ink ribbons of any kind and, it is less expensive overall than its counterpart. The downside to this type of printing is that legibility of the label can fade over an extended period of time especially if exposed to a lot of sunlight or heat. You will find this type of printing used in the creation of shipment labels or patient wristbands used in hospitals as an example.
The Thermal Transfer printer also uses a thermal print head but instead, melts ink from a ribbon and applies it directly to media as it passes. The ink is absorbed by the media and the end result is a longer lasting legible label. Although there is additional cost for this type of printing, the label is perfect for use when important identification is required for a longer timeframe. For example, identifying serial numbers for the lifetime of a product or labeling archives that need to be stored for extended periods of time.
The media used in both types of barcode printers can also vary quite a bit. You can choose to print on tags, wristbands, receipts, tickets and of course various sizes of labels. In addition, the media being used can be pre-treated to withstand moisture or temperature which results in a more durable label. The printer itself can also be pre-built with options such as a cutter (to cut labels off a media roll), peeler (to remove the backing liner of the label) or rewinder (to roll up printed labels). All these options help with the management and application of these labels especially when you are printing thousands at a time.
The items covered are only a few of the many variables to consider when choosing a barcode printer and the media for your labeling requirements. The specifics you can provide on what your label should look like along with the volume required and any additional details will help in finding the right solution for you. This will save you time and money without sacrificing quality which is always the bottom line.
If you are wondering if a barcode printer would be right for you, give us a call. We can help you with determine what solutions are available.
Photo courtesy of: Zebra