What barcode label printer do I need?


What barcode label printer do I need?

Investing in the right barcode label printer will give you years of low cost and easy label printing.  However, with hundreds of thermal label printer models, how do you know where to start?  Let Expert Labels guide you through – first you need to ask yourself some questions:

  • How long do my labels need to last? A matter of days or weeks – or longer?
  • What am I printing? Labels, receipts, tags, tickets or wristbands?
  • Am I printing onto paper, waterproof, freezable (or cryogenic) or heat resistant materials?
  • How many labels (or other items) do I expect to print each day – up to 500 or more than 500?
  • Where do I plan to use my printer? In a nice, clean office, a dusty factory, on the road or outdoors?
  • Do I need to do anything special with it? Perhaps print onto RFID labels, print at high speeds or use it stand-alone (without a computer)?

Let’s look at some options.

My labels or receipts need to last months or perhaps years.

You need a Thermal Transfer barcode label printer.  This uses an ink ribbon to mark the label or paper.  The alternative is a direct thermal label printer.

My label only needs to last a few days.

Direct Thermal would be a better choice.  Direct thermal heats a specially coated label or tag and causes the heat sensitive coating to turn black.  They don’t use ink ribbons, so they cost less to buy.  They’re easier to use – there’s no need to change ink ribbons.

I’m printing labels or receipts.

A standard barcode printer will be suitable.

I’m printing tags or tickets.

Whilst most printers will print happily onto tags or tickets, there are specialist ticket printers available.  If your tickets are valuable (concert tickets for example) you may want to consider a lockable case.  If you’re printing high volumes of tickets or tags then there are high capacity ticket printers available.  Speak to us so we can help you choose.

I’m printing onto wristbands.

Wristband printers
Wristband Printer

It is possible to buy wristbands to print on most label printers, however, there are specialist wristband printers available, such as Zebra’s HC100, which uses an easy to replace cartridge of wristbands.  For infrequent users or users who won’t be trained, cartridge wristband printers are a good choice.

I’m printing fewer than 500 labels a day.

Desktop and industrial barcode label printers
Desktop and industrial barcode label printers

Whilst the size of the label matters in this answer, broadly speaking, if you’re printing fewer than 500 labels a day then a desktop printer will be acceptable.  Desktop printers are generally lower in price, plastic cased printers with a smaller label roll capacity.  To read more about desktop printers, click here.

I’m printing more than 500 labels a day.

A larger, more durable printer will give you your labels with fewer problems and stoppages.  Industrial barcode label printers are usually metal cased, have an internal roll capacity of 200mm (or more) and better speed and performance than desktop printers.  Contact us to help you choose from the hundreds of different models available.

My barcode label printer is in a dusty workshop or warehouse.

An industrial printer with a metal case would be best suited to this environment.

I’m needing a portable label printer or one for a vehicle.

Portable printers
Portable Label Printers

Sounds like a portable printer would be a good choice.  Read our guide to portable printers here.

I’m using my printer in a nice, clean office.

A desktop barcode label printer would be the best value option if you’re not printing more than about 500 labels a day.

I need to do something a little unusual with my printer.

If one of these situations applies to you:

  • My printer needs to be fast (faster than 150mm per second),
  • My printer needs to print onto Radio Frequency ID labels,
  • My printer needs to have a cutter fitted to it,
  • My printer needs an internal rewind unit fitted,
  • My printer needs to peel off labels one at a time,
  • My printer needs to be used without a computer,
  • My printer needs to work 24/7,
  • My printer needs to print onto high temperature labels,
  • My printer needs to print with coloured inks,
  • My printer needs to print labels or tags wider than 100mm,
  • My printer needs a special industrial connector (i.e. RS232/serial),
  • My printer needs to be built into a production line…

Then you might need a barcode label printer with special features.  In which case, we suggest you call us to talk through your options.

Still need help choosing the right label printer?

If you don’t feel comfortable and want more help choosing your label printer, call our experienced team. We’ll talk you through the options and answer your specific questions.  Call us today on 01359 271 111.


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