In today's competitive business environment, staying ahead using latest technologies is critical to your success. Barcode technology is an effective way to meet the competitive challenges faced by your organization. Today, almost all kinds of businesses across the globe are implementing this technology and are quite successful. To use a barcodes, it must be printed first, which has increased the demand for barcode printers. The success of any business using barcode technology depends on the efficiency of the labeling technology it uses.
A barcode's readability, or scannability, depends on its print quality. There are four different types of print technologies available to print barcodes. They are Dot Matrix, Inkjet, Laser and Thermal printers.
There are several parameters that are to be measured before choosing a printer such as the quality of printing, cost of the initial installation, long term maintenance costs and the percentage of the material wasted. When you take a look at all these parameters, thermal barcode printers are the most efficient and widely used ones.
Dot matrix printers create poor quality barcodes that can be difficult to scan. Dot matrix printers are also limited in print speed and size. They tend to be slow in printing and cannot print small barcodes.
Laser and inkjet printers have great print quality, but they must print the barcode as an image, which uses more memory and slows down the print speed. Laser and inkjet printers must print an entire sheet of labels, instead of one at a time. They also have a very limited array of label facestocks on which they can print.
Thermal barcode products can print high quality text and graphics as well as barcodes. The barcode fonts reside in the thermal printer, so it will not slow down the print speed, which can get up to 12 inches per second. Thermal printers can print any amount of labels from one at a time up to an entire roll. They can also print very small, high density barcodes and can print on a wide variety of label sizes and facestocks.
Types of Thermal Printing Methods
Thermal barcode products use two different printing methods: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Most printers can do both so it all comes down to selecting the correct media for the application.
Direct thermal printers do not use ink, toner or ribbon; they create images directly on treated labels or tags. Direct thermal printers use chemically treated, heat-sensitive barcode label that blackens when it passes under the thermal printhead of the printer.
Simple design of thermal printers makes them durable and easy to use. Direct thermal printers are simple and inexpensive to maintain compared to other types of printers such as inkjet, laser, impact and thermal transfer as there is no ink, toner or ribbon to monitor or replace.
Direct thermal labels are sensitive to heat, sunlight and abrasion. They also have a shorter life than thermal transfer labels. Therefore, they are recommended for temporary, indoor, general purpose barcode labeling.
Thermal transfer printers
Thermal transfer printers use a ribbon and a printhead to produce accurate, high-quality barcode images. In this method of printing, the thermal printhead uses heat to transfer ink from the ribbon to the label or tag material to form the images. This technique provides images with high quality and durability.
Thermal transfer printers can print barcode images on a wider variety of media including paper, polyester and other synthetic label materials. Thermal transfer printers produce the toughest and longest-lasting barcode labels that can resist abrasion and chemicals. In addition to common labels and tags, they can create extremely durable asset tags, wristbands, certification labels, etc. for use indoors and outdoors.
Types of Thermal Barcode Printers
Thermal barcode products come in a variety of form factors: desktop, mid-range, industrial, and portable. One of the biggest factors to determine which barcode printer to select is the number of labels that are going to be printed daily.
Desktop Barcode Printers
Desktop barcode products are ideal for applications where space and budget are limited. They have a compact design that fits neatly on a desk, countertop, or POS station. Desktop barcode products are recommended when printing less than 100 paper labels per day.
Desktop barcode products work best with paper labels and tags which are larger than 1.5" x 0.5". They are also the perfect choice for printing vinyl jewelry labels. A desktop barcode printer can print on other synthetic materials, but in limited quantities.
Mid-Range Barcode Printers
Mid-range, or light industrial, barcode printers can handle a wide variety of media sizes, from very small serial barcode labels on cell phone components to very large chemical drum barcode labels. They can also handle a wide variety of media types, from basic paper barcode labels to synthetic barcode labels that are flexible enough to wrap around a vial or durable enough to withstand extreme weather conditions outdoors.
These printers are designed to print about a 1000 paper or synthetic labels a day. With faster processors and built-in memory, light industrial barcode products are able to handle more complex barcode label designs quicker than a desktop barcode printer. Light industrial barcode products may not be suitable for the most demanding barcode printing environments.
Industrial Barcode Printers
Industrial barcode printers are often used in large warehouses and manufacturing facilities to create hundreds and thousands of labels, where reliability and durability are critical. These printers are designed to print paper or synthetic labels 24 x 7.
These printers can print a wider range of label sizes, from very large to very small. They also have higher resolution print heads for printing detailed graphics or tiny barcodes and fonts. They are constructed to work in tougher environments beyond regular offices.
Portable Barcode Printers
Portable barcode printers are intended for the worker on the go or out in the field and are often used for quick labeling purposes. Portable printers can increase efficiency and worker productivity by helping you print barcode labels on demand wherever they are needed. These printers can be used virtually anywhere and relocated in minutes as they are free from cabling and a wired network infrastructure.
Portable barcode printers will communicate through radio frequency or Bluetooth technology, in addition to offering standard cable connectivity. Print widths range between 2 and 4 inches. They can print barcode labels on assembly lines, shipping and receiving docks, patient bedsides, retail checkouts, offices and anywhere the information is needed.
The type of barcode printer used by different businesses is dependent on each business' application needs. Each and every type of barcode printer has specific advantages. So, you should assess your barcode printing requirements before you make any purchasing decision.