A barcode printer (or bar code printer) is a computer peripheral for printing barcode labels or tags that can be attached to physical objects. Barcode printers are commonly used to label cartons before shipment, or to label retail items with UPCs or EANs.
Barcode printers are designed for different markets. Industrial barcode printers are used in large warehouses and manufacturing facilities. They have large paper capacities, operate faster and have a longer service life. For retail and office environments, desktop barcode printers are most common.
Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer Printers
Thermal Transfer Barcode Printers
Thermal Transfer Barcode Printers use a high carbon, thermal transfer barcode ribbon which passes between a print head and barcode label. The heat from the print head causes the barcode ribbon's ink to be released and bind to the barcode label. Thermal transfer is the most effective way of producing rugged, long lasting barcode labels.
Direct Thermal Barcode Printers
Direct Thermal Barcode Printers do not use barcode ribbons. A heat sensitive barcode label comes into contact with a print head and causes the paper to turn black similar to a fax machine. Direct thermal paper is sensitive to heat and sunlight and therefore is recommended for indoor, general purpose barcode labeling. The indoor life expectancy of the direct thermal barcode label is approximately 12 months.
What is DPI?
A Barcode Printer's DPI (Dots per Inch) is critical when printing very small or very detailed barcode labels. 203 DPI is the minimum resolution for barcode printers. 203 DPI is used in 90% of all barcode printer applications, from printing Asset Barcode Labels to Inventory and Shipping Barcode Labels. Applications requiring higher DPI’s would be printing Logos, Retail barcode labels and 2D barcode labels. If you need a higher resolution printer, you have options from 300 DPI, 400 DPI all the way up to 600 DPI. Please call a System ID barcode printer specialist to help you find the right printer for your application.
Barcode Printer Options
There are many Barcode Printer Options that are available to meet your application needs (for example, if your labels will be printed in one location and then distributed to different locations to be applied, consider purchasing a barcode printer that offers a rewind option). Here is a list of some of the most common barcode printer options that are available.
- Label Peel: For demanding barcode label applications, each barcode label is printed, peeled and ready to apply. Some barcode printer models will take up the excess backing and rewind to a spindle.
- Cutter: For applications requiring cut barcode labels either sets of preformed labels/ tags or variable length labels from continuous barcode media.
- Media Rewind: Internal or external option to rewind the full barcode label roll while media is printing. Ideal for applications where barcode labels are printed in advance and stored for multicolor passes. Some internal rewinders double as a line/backing rewinder in applications using the peeling option.
- Memory: Store longer label formats, multiple label jobs or detailed graphics with memory expansions.
- Unwinder: Used with larger rolls of stock. Normally, mounted behind the printer, labels are fed through a rear opening in the printer.