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How to Choose a Barcode Printer

How to Choose a Barcode Printer

Barcode printers make it easy for any manufacturer to provide encoded information about a product in the most concise form, which is easily readable. This article is short guide explaining how to select a barcode printer that perfectly suits your requirements.
Omkar Phatak
One of the foremost examples of a modern hieroglyphs is the barcode we find printed on labels of consumer products all over the world. Life used to be painfully time-consuming, when there were no barcode labels printed and shopkeepers had to scan the length and breadth of whole cartons to locate the printed price. Thankfully, those days are behind us. All store managers have to do these days is use a barcode scanner and let its laser beam pass over the series of lines, of different widths, that make up the barcode, to get all the information about the product which they need for billing. Barcodes find application in any industry or business, which needs to label inventory and goods. If you are thinking of organizing your business inventory with a barcode or label your products, you will need a barcode printer.
About Barcode Printers
A barcode printed on product labels uses coding symbology in the form of lines of different widths to encode information about the product, which includes brand name, its specifications and price. 'Universal Product Code' is the established coding system used for printing labels. Using a computer based software, these printers can print pre-designed barcode labels. They are widely used by retail manufacturers, courier companies and industries with massive product inventories, for easy labeling. Depending on the printing speed, volume, label width and overall printing workload, there are a wide range of barcode printers to choose from.
How to Choose Barcode Printers?
Choosing a barcode printer will naturally be simpler when you know exactly what you are looking for. Before you even start comparing any of the printers, know what is the volume of printing, that you might need to churn out per day and the size of printing labels you will need. With these basic requirements known, you can start comparing all the barcode printers according to the following specifications.
Choosing Basic Technology: Direct Thermal or Thermal Transfer
The primary specification to choose is the type of underlying technology which the printer uses. There are two types - 'Direct Thermal' & 'Thermal Transfer'. Direct thermal prints barcodes on labels through direct contact of the printer head on a special kind of paper, called the thermochromic paper. With the application of heat, this paper turns black. Hence these kinds of printers are limited to paper based barcode printing.
On the other hand, a thermal transfer printer uses a ribbon to print barcodes on a variety of surfaces. So if your printing is confined to paper labels, go for a direct thermal printer, but if you need to print on other types of surfaces too, use a thermal transfer printer. There are printers which offer both these technologies and you can switch between them at will.
Printing Resolution (DPI) & Memory
Once you are decided on the type of barcode printer you would like to go for, look for the DPI (dots per inch) specification for the printer, which determines the printing resolution and quality. Go for a high DPI printer which can deliver high printing quality labels. You can choose from printers which offer 203 DPI to more than 609 DPI resolution.
Label Width
Desktop barcode printers are designed to deliver barcode labels of specific length and width. Look for printers with label width specifications, matching your own requirement.
Printing Speed & Volume
Another important factor while choosing a barcode printers is the printing speed and volume of printing labels the device can deliver. For manufacturing industries, with bulk production, a printer capable of delivering high volume of labels at a high speed would be appropriate.
Interface Type
Check for the type of connecting ports and connectivity interface offered by the printer. Most of the latest barcode printers come with USB, ethernet, bluetooth and wireless connectivity. Look for a printer which offers a wide range of connectivity options. Check for the type of software which works with the printer and any extra features offered along with it. Lastly, check for the price and choose the one which offers comparable features at the best price. Some of the major brands to look out for are Zebra, O'Neil, SATO and Intermec.
To summarize, the type of barcode printer, its printing speed, the supported symbology, print width, connection interface, memory, software and resolution are some of the prime features, that you should check out while shopping around for a barcode printer. There are many online stores which provide complete information regarding all brands and types of barcode printers that you could choose from. Compare all the above mentioned features, know your requirements and budget, to select a device which best suits your workload.