A label printer, also known as bar code printer, can be described as a computer printer that uses label material with self-adhesive elements with or without barcodes. Label printer products are used for pricing or labeling goods. Label materials used in printing have a wide range of paper and synthetic polymer (plastics) materials.
There are different types of label printers involving different printing mechanisms. Two most common forms of label printing are direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing. Different types of label printers are desktop label printers, commercial label printers, industrial label printers, industrial portable label printers, RFID readers, inkjet label printers and personal label printers or label markers. Among these, desktop label printers, RFID readers, personal label printers and inkjet printers are the most in-demand label printers for small and medium-level businesses.
Label printer applicators are specially designed for automating and accelerating the labeling process. Also, label software is designed for creating or formatting labels to be printed, and it runs on a general purpose personal computer.
Commercial label printers, industrial label printers and industrial portable printers are typically designed for heavy duty, continuous operations using large rolls of stock. Desktop label printers are designed for light and medium usage to hold a roll up to 4” wide in stock. These printers are quiet and inexpensive. They use the direct thermal technology approach in which heat sensitive paper, similar to thermal fax paper, is used. These printers have 8 MB SDRAM, 2.03”print width and internal ethernet print servers. The main drawback with these printers is that their printed labels tend to fade in six to twelve months, and life becomes shortened in case of exposure to heat, direct sunlight or chemical vapors. This fading is related to the direct thermal label printing approach.
RFID readers are a special type of printers that print the barcode on self-adhesive material and, at the same time, encode the RFID transponders that are enclosed in a paper or printable synthetic material. There is a need foot printed information for backward compatibility with barcode systems in case of RFID tags in order to provide people ease in identifying the tags.
Personal label printers, also known as label markers, are small desktop devices that are tiny and light enough to be operated by hand. These printers are most suitable for home office or small business applications. They are very cheap and popular with low volume users, but one drawback associated with these printers is that they print only on special tapes that are often thermal and expensive.
Previously, a mechanical system known as embossing tape that worked by stamping colored plastic tape was common. In that mechanism, a hammer with the shapes of letters to be printed was used to cause the letter shape protrusion on the opposite side of tape. Visual contrast was provided by the discoloration of the raised plastic. Presently, this mechanism is totally canned by electronic thermal transfer devices, which have built-in displays, keyboards and an integrated magazine that contains material for labeling.
Inkjet label printers require ink which can cause troubles for the user, but this is a much better option for color labeling. These printers are in high demand for small and medium-scale businesses because they provide good quality results at a very affordable and low price. Commercial label printers are typically designed to hold large rolls of stock, up to 8” wide. However, these printers can be set for medium-level printing mass. Nowadays, some industrial barcode printers are also designed for medium-level printing and employ both the direct thermal approach and the thermal transfer mechanism for label printing. The thermal transfer approach is a much better option because thermal transfer label printing mechanisms give permanent printing by transferring ink from the ribbon onto the label. The ribbon has three different grades: wax, wax/ resin, and resin.
The above mentioned label printers are in high demand, and they have applications in different fields of business with respect to their product types and quality. In choosing a label printer, some parameters have to be set before purchasing; where the printer is to be used – either for small, medium or heavy duty business- the quality of printing required, and the life of the label to be printed. These will decide the technology employed. And the most important one is the budget that a person can afford for buying a label printer.
This article is about printers, where the writer Leo Preston describes the detail demands of label printers in small and medium business. She wants to thanks Quicklable.ca for giving her some information about the article.