How To Choose A Barcode Printer

By: Kb Lim

Barcode Printers nowadays comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes with varying price range. It can also either be hand-held or desk bound. Technically, general purpose laserjet and inkjet printers cannot print barcodes by default. Usually, they require a add-on component or module. An example is Capella Technologies which provides barcode printing functionality to standard HP laserjet printers through an add-on flash card. Such barcode printers are usually limited in the number of symbologies that can be used.

Thermal Barcode printers, on the other hand supports multiple symbologies right out of the box. The more common barcode printer manufacturers include zebra and symbol.

There are two ways barcode printers print barcode, the first method is Thermal Transfer and the second method is Direct Thermal. Direct Thermal prints the barcode directly on the label while Thermal Transfer make use of a ribbon and a printhead. The ribbon is heated and the image is etched on by the printhead on a pre-defined area.

Thermal transfer allows you to print barcodes on a wider variety of materials than direct thermal. As such, the type of material you are going to print barcodes on is a crucial factor in determining which barcode printer to purchase.

Larger barcode printers usually have the ability to switch between direct thermal and thermal transfer. One disadvantage of thermal transfer is that the ribbon needs to be changed quite frequently. If you are using the barcode printer in a manufacturing environment, there could be a lot of downtime. A direct thermal printer is faster and is useful particularly where speed is required and you are not printing a lot of barcodes all the time. An example would be in a hospital where each patient warded is given a barcode to identify them.

If you need to print thousand of barcode labels at a time. Look at purchasing one of the thermal printers from symbol or zebra. I found them to be pretty good in terms of speed and functionality. I would advise to get a barcode printer that has a larger print width and a larger print label capacity.

Barcode Printing technology has evolved tremendously over the last few years. Lately, barcode manufacturers have implemented several security features to ensure there is no counterfeit coding. The latest models of barcode printers are capable of printing labels with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Devices) tags in them. Such security features are mandatory in some highly sensitive industries and help to provide a guarantee of authentication.

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