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Barcode Printers
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There are several categories of barcode printer, each with distinctive characteristics designed to meet the requirements of different applications.

If you need a small barcode printer for small tasks, a big barcode printer for a big job, or somewhere in between, we have many reliable, low-cost options for you, including a full line of Zebra barcode printers. A barcode system isn't complete without a printer. Make sure you select the correct one that fits your specific needs. For example, do you need a thermal transfer or a direct thermal printer? What size labels will you print? Do you require a cutter, rewinder, or peeler? And what about DPI and durability? At System ID, we have printing experts who can advise you on the right solution. They are trained by all manufacturers, including Zebra, Datamax-O'Neil, Wasp, and Intermec. They know which printers will work for credit cards and receipts, barcode labels and tablets, regardless of the location. From retail stores to warehouses, there are desktop, industrial, and portable, wireless barcode printers for every industry and budget.

  • Warehouse Inventory Scanner System
  • Complete Barcode Printing Systems

  • System ID offers complete inventory scanning systems that include everything from the barcode printer to the scanner to the software, and even the labels and supplies. We can also help you configure your wireless warehouse network and provide you a mobile device management solution.

  • Zebra ZT220 Mid-Range Barcode Printers
  • Zebra ZT220 Mid-Range Printer

  • Features space-saving design, effortless setup, intuitive user operation, and ease of service and maintenance.

  • Zebra GK420 Desktop Printer
  • Zebra GK420 Desktop Printer

  • Built with durability and reliability, the GK420 model provides the best value of all basic desktop thermal printers.

  • Zebra GC420 Desktop Printer
  • Zebra GC420 Desktop Printer

  • Replacement for Zebra LP2844 and TLP2844 printers. Perfect for low-to-medium volume direct thermal and thermal transfer printing applications.

  • Zebra 110Xi4 Industrial Printer
  • Zebra 110Xi4 Industrial Printer

  • Fast print speeds for high-volume printing. Dependable and durable, made with a 12-gauge steel frame for the toughest environments.

  • Zebra 140Xi4 Industrial Barcode Printers
  • Zebra 140Xi4 Industrial Printer

  • Designed and built to withstand the most demanding environments, working nonstop for mission-critical and 24/7 operations.

  • Zebra 170Xi4 Barcode Printer
  • Zebra 170Xi4 Barcode Printer

  • The 170Xi4 industrial printer is dependable and durable, made with a 12-gauge steel frame for the toughest environments.

  • Zebra 220Xi4 Industrial Barcode Printer
  • Zebra 220Xi4 Industrial Printer

  • Features fast print speeds for high-volume printing applications and are legendary for their rugged durability and outstanding print quality.

  • Zebra ZT230 Barcode Printer
  • Zebra ZT230 Barcode Printer

  • Features space-saving design, effortless setup, intuitive user operation, and ease of service and maintenance.

  • Zebra P4T Mobile Barcode Printers
  • Zebra P4T Mobile Barcode Printer

  • The Zebra P4T is the world’s first mobile thermal transfer printer with optional RFID upgradeability.

  • Zebra ZT410 Barcode Printer
  • Zebra ZT410 Barcode Printer

  • ZT410 uses the Z-Series platform of reliable printers with enhancements made to print speed, print quality, and connectivity options.

  • Zebra ZT420 Barcode Printer
  • Zebra ZT420 Barcode Printer

  • Available in 203 or 300 dpi print resolutions, and comes standard with USB 2.0, USB Host, RS-232 Serial, 10/100 Ethernet, and Bluetooth® capabilities.

  • Zebra GX430 Desktop Printer
  • Zebra GX430 Desktop Printer

  • The GX430 printer comes standard with direct thermal/thermal transfer print technology, and 300dpi print resolution.

  • Zebra 105SL Plus Printer
  • Zebra 105SL Plus Barcode Printer

  • Economical and dependable, this rugged printer is made for continuous operation in your manufacturing and warehousing environments.

  • Zebra ZXP Series 3 ID Card Printer
  • Zebra ZXP Series 3 ID Card Printer

  • With a wide range of ribbon options, along with the capability to select the card thickness, the ZXP Series 3 card printer is the most cost effective card printer in its class.

  • Zebra RW220 Mobile Printer
  • Zebra RW220 Mobile Printer

  • Uniquely designed for harsh outdoor environments, RW series mobile printers endure extreme temperatures and weather conditions.

  • Sato CL412NX Industrial Barcode Printer
  • Sato CL412NX Barcode Printer

  • Features a 3.5" Full color LCD screen with clear, crisp images and provides quality and real time messaging on the printer's status.

  • Sato M84 Industrial Barcode Printers
  • Sato M84 Barcode Printers

  • Withstands the bumps and bruises that come along with the ride in environments such as manufacturing plants and distribution centers.

  • Sato CL6 Series Industrial Barcode Printers
  • Sato CL6 Barcode Printer

  • The Sato CL6 industrial thermal transfer barcode printer is available with RS-232 or Parallel interfaces.

  • Datamax M-Class Barcode Printer
  • Datamax M-Class Barcode Printer

  • M-Class printers are ideal for light-industrial applications, small businesses, and healthcare applications.

  • Datamax O'Neil I-Class Mark II Printer
  • Datamax O'Neil I-Class Mark II

  • I-Class Mark II printers are used in manufacturing, asset tracking, shipping & receiving, pharmaceuticals, and in the food and beverage industry.

  • Datamax H-Class Barcode Printer
  • Datamax H-Class Barcode Printer

  • The H-Class family of printers were designed for high-volume, specialty labeling and mission critical applications.

  • Datamax O'Neil 1115 Printer
  • Datamax O'Neil 1115 Printer

  • An innovative family of printers that was designed to resolve a number of issues customers had been having with thermal printers for many years.

  • Datamax Workstation Desktop Printer
  • Datamax Workstation Printer

  • These printers are designed for a wide variety of industries and applications that require a small yet powerful printing solution.

  • Datamax E-Class Mark III Printer
  • Datamax E-Class Mark III Printer

  • This family of desktop thermal barcode printers designed for many different industries and applications from manufacturing to postal service.

  • Intermec PX4i Industrial Printer
  • Intermec PX4i Industrial Printer

  • Designed for the warehouse, can be mounted in virtually any position, making it ideal for applications where space is an issue.

  • Intermec PD41 Industrial Printer
  • Intermec PD41 Industrial Printer

  • The Intermec PD41 barcode printer is rugged. Built with all metal chassis and covers, this printer is built for tough environments.

  • Intermec PM4I Barcode Printer
  • Intermec PM4I Barcode Printer

  • The Intermec PM4I barcode printer is extremely versatile with six interface ports that can be used together simultaneously.

  • Intermec PB50 Mobile Printer
  • Intermec PB50 Mobile Printer

  • Convenience of printing labels, tags and receipts where and when they are needed, increasing productivity for warehouse operations.

  • Intermec PB22 Mobile Printer
  • Intermec PB22 Mobile Printer

  • A combination of wireless communication, ultra-fast print speeds, and long-lasting battery life in a rugged wearable design.

  • Intermec PX6I Printer
  • Intermec PX6I Barcode Printer

  • Designed for the warehouse, is an incredibly fast barcode printer, with the ability to print up to 9 inches per second.

  • Intermec PM43 Printer
  • Intermec PM43 Barcode Printer

  • Industrial printer that delivers fast, drop-in deployment, advanced connectivity and proven reliability to maximize uptime.

  • Intermec PB51 Mobile Printer
  • Intermec PB51 Mobile Printer

  • Has a combination of wireless communication, ultra-fast print speeds, and long-lasting battery life in a rugged wearable design.

  • Wasp WPL305 Desktop Printer
  • Wasp WPL305 Desktop Printer

  • The WPL305 allows for drop-in media loading, which decreases the time is takes to load labels so you're up and running faster.

  • Wasp WPL205 Desktop Printer
  • Wasp WPL205 Desktop Printer

  • Small footprint that fits easily on desks, shipping stations, and medical counters, with an integrated label peeler that makes labeling easier and faster.

Barcode Printer Guide

If you’re new to barcoding or are updating an existing system with a new barcode printer, this guide is for you. We've been in this business for over 30 years, helping thousands of companies across hundreds of industries find the right solution for them. To ensure you select the right printer and labeling solution for your specific needs, we’ve created the helpful topics below, which contain general information about barcode printing.


A barcode printer is one of the basic elements of a barcode solution, which also includes a barcode scanner or mobile computer, barcode software, and barcode labels.

But customers new to barcoding don’t always know much about printers, including what they are and how they work.

What is a barcode printer?

As its name suggests, a barcode printer is a device that prints barcode labels or tags that you can attach to physical objects for tracking.

Although you can label nearly anything, items that are commonly labeled include:

  • Products
  • Assets
  • Inventory
  • Supplies
  • Pallets
  • Cartons
  • Containers
  • Cases
  • Retail shelves
  • Perishables
  • People

Buying Tip

A barcode printer is a critical component to a barcode system, which also includes a barcode scanner or mobile computer, software, and labels.

In addition to printing labels and tags, you can purchase printers that enable you to create:

  • Plastic ID cards for membership, access control, and gifts
  • Wristbands for employee or patient identification and amusement park access
  • Tickets and receipts for deliveries, coupons, electronic citations, and events
  • RFID tags for hands-free scanning and seamless information sharing across the supply chain

You can also choose printers designed for specific environments, including:

  • Desktop printers, which are ideal for areas that are tight on space due to their compact size.
  • Industrial printers, which survive the harshest of conditions while performing around the clock.
  • Mobile printers that enable you to work anywhere, anytime for optimal productivity.

These printers have features that benefit nearly every industry and environment, including offices, manufacturers, warehouses, hospitals, labs, retailers, arenas, libraries, classrooms, and suppliers.

How does a barcode printer work?

To easily print paper or synthetic labels and tags, most barcode printers incorporate one of the following print technologies:

  • Inkjet

    Used primarily for printing barcodes onto cartons or product packages, inkjet printers spray ink onto the surface of the label at very high speeds.

  • Laser

    Laser printers work best when printing barcodes onto plain-paper documents because they transfer images using ions that are charged and heated.

  • Thermal

    Thermal print technologies are most commonly used to print barcode labels and tags. They include two types:

    • Direct thermal

      Printers with direct thermal technology generate heat that causes a chemical reaction when a print head passes over specially treated that turns black.

    • Thermal transfer

      Thermal transfer printers also generate heat using a print head but instead of creating a chemical reaction on a special paper, it melts wax, resin, or a combination of the two on a ribbon that transfers ink to the paper.

The print technologies primarily used to create barcode labels and tags are inkjet, laser, and thermal—the latter being the most widely adopted by organizations with dedicated barcode systems.

Inkjet

Primarily used to print barcodes directly onto cartons or product packages, inkjet printers spray ink onto the surface of the label at very high speeds. This direct marking process allows high-volume companies to significantly speed the labeling and distribution process.

However, the cost doesn’t warrant adoption by companies that only print individual labels or small batches. Too, inkjet printers not designed for direct marking are often slow and unable to create barcodes with acceptable accuracy.

For these reasons, ink jet printing is not ideal for most barcoding applications.

PROS

CONS

  • Ideal for printing barcodes directly onto cartons or product packaging in high-volume environments
  • Requires only one step
  • Marks “on the fly”
  • Are often slow
  • Barcodes aren’t always scannable
  • Requires supervision to ensure nozzles don’t clog
  • Inks are not waterproof

Buying Tip

Inkjet printers work best when printing directly onto cartons or product packages on high-volume production lines.

Laser

Laser printers work best when printing barcodes onto flat, plain-paper documents because they transfer images using ions that are charged and heated. This process is similar to that of a photocopier, resulting in barcodes with high density and quality.

This enables companies to scan codes at virtually any wavelength using an infrared scanner. It also enables them to print high-quality text and graphics on paper documents when not using the printer to produce barcodes.

But while laser printers produce reliable images, they aren’t well suited for long-term use. The labels have limited durability due to their susceptibility to toner flaking and no resistance to chemicals and water.

And because laser printers only accept sheets of material, there tends to be a lot of waste, in addition to the extra costs for toner, drums, and supplies.

PROS

CONS

  • Great for producing barcodes on plain-paper documents
  • Prints dense, high-resolution barcodes that are easily read from virtually any wavelength using an infrared scanner
  • Can print high-quality text and graphics on paper
  • Requires labels in sheet form, which can cause waste
  • Limited durability
  • Labels not resistant to chemicals and water, but are susceptible to toner flaking and smudging
  • Supply costs are high

Buying Tip

Labels printed on laser printers have limited durability. Too, laser printers use sheets of labels instead of rolls, which often causes waste.

Thermal

Direct thermal and thermal transfer print technologies are most commonly used for dedicated barcode systems due to their reliability and durability. Both use a heated print head to create high-quality images, which make them ideal for:

  • Printing on demand with point-of-application systems, which enable you to print labels when you need them
  • Printing labels with variable data that frequently changes
  • Easily adapting to labels of varying sizes
  • Cleanly printing graphics, images, and scalable fonts of various sizes
  • Creating high-definition barcodes that reduce errors and increase productivity

While direct thermal and thermal transfer printers share common benefits, they work differently for various applications.

Direct Thermal

Printers with direct thermal technology do not use ribbons, toner, or ink. Instead, they print images directly onto heat-sensitive labels and tags. The coating on the label or tag turns black when exposed to the heat from a print head.

Direct thermal printers produce quality barcode images that are cost effective for most organizations, especially small businesses. Direct thermal printers are also easy to use and simple to maintain. However, they do have a couple of drawbacks.

For one, their labels are sensitive to light and heat, causing them to turn dark when overexposed. Also, they aren’t very rugged so direct thermal labels don’t withstand abrasion. And with only a few available face stocks, your ability to customize these labels is limited.

So what environment works best for direct thermal labels and tags? You’ll find success using them for any short-term application with minimal exposure to direct sunlight and heat, such as shipping labels and receipts.

PROS

CONS

  • Ideal for applications with short shelf lives, such as shipping labels and receipts
  • Does not use ribbons, toner, or ink
  • Produces precise, high-quality images
  • Cost effective
  • Easy to use and simple to maintain
  • Labels are extremely sensitive to light and heat
  • Labels cannot stand abrasion
  • Limited face stocks are available
  • Labels only last a short time, depending upon the application

Buying Tip

Direct thermal labels are best for short-term applications such as shipping labels and receipts.

Thermal Transfer

Thermal transfer printers also use heat to generate labels and tags. However unlike direct thermal printers, they use ribbons to transfer ink to the label.

The ribbon physically passes between the print head and the label. The heat from the print head melts the wax or resin on the ribbon, allowing it to transfer ink to the label or tag. This process produces long-lasting labels that stand up to harsh conditions and extreme temperatures.

Thermal transfer labels are extremely durable and can be printed on a wide variety of materials, including paper and synthetics. There is also very little waste with thermal transfer printers because you can print single labels or batches of them.

But because thermal transfer printers use ribbons to transfer ink, you must routinely replace the ribbons. This makes the overall maintenance expense a little higher than direct thermal. However, your labels and print heads will last longer, so it may be worth the extra expense.

Because of their rugged durability, thermal transfer labels are great for long-term applications in harsh conditions.

PROS

CONS

  • Ideal for industrial environments and offices
  • Produces consistent barcodes of the highest quality
  • Extremely durable and long-lasting
  • Withstands harsh conditions and abrasion
  • Prints on a wide variety of materials
  • Print heads last longer than direct thermal
  • Have to routinely replace barcode ribbons
  • Ribbon and media substrate MUST be compatible; otherwise, the heat can melt the ribbon onto the label, and you can wipe the ink off of the label
  • Slightly more expensive to operate than direct thermal printers
  • Ribbon is wasted if not printing much on the label

Buying Tip

Thermal transfer labels are extremely durable, making them a great fit for long-term applications in harsh conditions.

Compare print technologies

The following table provides a quick comparison of the print technologies.

FEATURE

INKJET

LASER

THERMAL

Ideal use

  • Direct marking
  • Cartons or product packaging
  • High-volume production lines
  • High-quality text and graphics
  • Plain-paper documents
  • Printing on demand with point-of-application systems
  • Labels with variable, frequently changing data
  • Varying label sizes
  • Graphics, images, and scalable fonts
  • High-definition barcodes

DIRECT
THERMAL

THERMAL
TRANSFER

  • Short-term applications
  • Shipping labels and receipts
  • Minimal exposure to direct sunlight, heat
  • Long-term applications
  • Industrial environments and offices
  • Harsh conditions

How it works

  • Prints barcodes directly onto cartons or product packaging
  • Sprays ink onto the surface of the label at high speeds
  • Transfers images using ions that are charged and heated
  • Prints on sheets, not rolls
  • Prints images directly onto heat-sensitive labels and tags
  • Coating turns black when exposed to the heat from a print head
  • Ribbon physically passes between the heated print head and the label
  • Transfers ink to the label or tag by melting  wax or resin ribbon

Barcode quality

  • Low/good
  • High-density and resolution
  • Precise, high-quality images
  • Consistent barcodes of the highest quality

Label durability

  • Average
  • Inks are not waterproof
  • Not recommended for most barcoding applications
  • Limited durability
  • Susceptible to toner flaking and smudging
  • No resistance to chemicals and water
  • Durable, but for a short time
  • Extremely sensitive to heat and light; labels turn black when overexposed
  • Doesn’t withstand abrasion
  • Extremely durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Withstands harsh conditions and abrasion
  • Chemical and water resistant

Material waste

  • Moderate/high
  • Moderate/high
  • Minimal
  • Minimal

Maintenance

  • Requires constant supervision
  • Moderate/high cost
  • Requires toner, drums, and supplies
  • Moderate/high cost
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Low cost
  • Requires barcode ribbons
  • Low cost

You’ve identified your labeling requirements and know about the print technologies. Now it’s time to see what printers are available to you.

Desktop

Typically compact in size, desktop printers are great when you’re tight on space. They are also a good fit for companies that don’t print a high volume of labels.

There are a wide variety of stationary printers designed to sit wherever you need them to.

And with a broad range of connectivity types, it’s no wonder that organizations across the globe trust these thermal transfer and direct thermal printers to produce high-quality barcodes, receipts, and wristbands.

Buying Tip

Desktop printers are ideal for companies that don’t print a high volume of labels.

Industrial

Organizations with mission-critical operations depend on industrial printers to perform 24/7 with minimal downtime. That’s why manufacturers equip these reliable workhorses with tough exteriors that can withstand even the harshest environments.

But these printers don’t just have a pretty interface.

Smart, strong, and secure, the light, medium, and high-use industrial printers work tirelessly cranking out quality barcodes for labels, invoices, packing slips, and other applications where durability is a necessity.

Buying Tip

For mission-critical operations, choose industrial printers that can perform 24/7.

Card

Printers that produce plastic identification cards are in a class of their own due to the unique requirements of their media.

Used for everything from employee badges and driver’s licenses to membership cards and ski passes, card printers offer a variety of options. You can print on one side or both, in color or black and white, and you can encode them with smart card and magnetic stripes that provide secure tracking and access control.

Buying Tip

Plastic cards are widely used to identify and track people in a variety of tasks.

Mobile

Mobile printers travel with you and are designed to withstand field conditions such as dirt, moisture, and extreme temperatures. They’ll even survive physical shock that comes from users occasionally dropping them.

These ultra-rugged, portable printers enable on-site, on-demand printing so you can literally conduct business anywhere, anytime. This leads to increased productivity and accuracy across the enterprise.

Buying Tip

Mobile printers travel where you need them to and can withstand harsh conditions.

RFID

To print, encode, and verify labels and tags with RFID sensors, you’ll need either an RFID-enabled or RFID-capable printer.

The good news is that there are a lot of models to choose from because RFID data capture technology is being commonly integrated into industrial manufacturing, warehouse and logistics, and even retail environments.

In fact, organizations of all kinds are opting for RFID systems due to the total visibility they provide when identifying, tracking, managing, and optimizing assets.

Buying Tip

RFID printers encode labels with an RFID chip that enables total visibility across the supply chain.

Kiosk

Kiosk printers are becoming widely used across a number of industries for things like tickets, receipts, and coupons.

They provide consumers with self-serve convenience where and when they need it.

Buying Tip

For self-serve convenience, companies opt for kiosk printers.

Compare barcode printers

The table on the following page compares the features and benefits of each type of barcode printer.

Review it to determine which works best for you.

BARCODE PRINTER TYPES

Type

Feature

Benefit

Desktop

  • Typically compact in size
  • Great for offices or light industrial environments that may be tight on space
  • Best for low-to-mid volume labeling
  • Only produce what you need, when you need it
  • Ideal for light duty applications
  • Perfect for barcode labels, receipts, tickets, and wristbands
  • Choice of thermal transfer or direct thermal
  • Variety of models for multiple applications and uses
  • Broad range of connectivity options
  • Accommodates existing infrastructures
  • High-quality performance
  • Reliable, accurate scans

Industrial

  • Survives harshest environments
  • Won’t break down unexpectedly
  • Ideal for 24/7, mission-critical operations
  • No downtime
  • Models for light, medium, and heavy duty labeling
  • Options for variety of environments
  • Highest performance
  • Supports around-the-clock production
  • Superior barcodes
  • Accurate, dependable reads
  • High-quality text and graphics
  • Customize labels, invoices, packing slips

Card

  • Ideal for identifying, tracking, and controlling people in a variety of settings
  • Enforces security measures and prevents errors in offices, events, and healthcare settings
  • Supports a multitude of applications
  • Handy for employee badges, driver’s licenses, membership and gift cards
  • Variety of options, such as printing on two sides or in color; also encoding with RFID or magnetic stripes
  • Enables personalization and customization
  • Works in wired and wireless locales
  • Easily adapts to its environment

Mobile

  • Designed to withstand field conditions such as dirt, moisture, and extreme temperatures
  • Minimizes downtime
  • Ultra-rugged; survives physical shocks
  • Long-lasting; don’t need to replace very often
  • Facilitates on-site, on-demand printing
  • Adds efficiency and can improve customer service
  • Enables you to literally conduct business anywhere, anytime
  • Increases productivity and accuracy across the enterprise

RFID

  • Choose between RFID-enabled or RFID-capable versions
  • Can update certain models without having to invest in new hardware
  • Print RFID tags where and when you need them
  • Increases productivity
  • Error-proof labels
  • Improves readability
  • Durable, reliable performance
  • Accurate reads and tracking

Kiosk

  • Self-serve, direct thermal printing
  • Provides convenient access to items like tickets, receipts, and coupons
  • On-demand responsiveness
  • Grow sales opportunities
  • Auto media loading
  • No downtime

Once you’ve identified the type of printer you will need, you’ll want to pay close attention to the specification sheets for each model. They contain details about a variety of features that impact a printer’s performance.

In fact, printer manufacturers offer a wide range of features to accommodate most every environment and industry.

Interfaces

Every printer must communicate with its host computer before printing labels. Even standalone printers require a computer connection to set them up.

Buying Tip

The most common type of wireless connectivity is Wi-Fi. However, WAN devices have faster transfer speeds.

Wired

Desktop and industrial printers offer several types of wired connectivity, the most popular being:

  • USB

    USB is widely used on most electronic devices, including barcode printers. It’s easy to set up a printer when you use a USB interface: Simply plug the USB cable directly into the printer, and install the print driver on the host computer.

    Note: Most mobile printers offer USB connectivity for times when standalone printing is needed.

  • Ethernet

    Printers with Ethernet ports enable sharing across a network. After configuring their access, users can effortlessly connect to a shared printer. Because of their ease of use and immediate productivity, this interface is also commonly used by a variety of organizations.

  • RS232

    Serial connections such as RS232 are standard on some barcode printers and optional on others. When used, they allow you to transmit data directly to a computer. However, their transfer speeds are slow, which is why they’ve been primarily replaced by USB interfaces.

  • Parallel

    Like serial interfaces, parallel ports are seen less frequently on barcode printers because of their transmission rates. But, you can opt to purchase printers with them, if needed.

Wireless

Most manufacturers offer mobile printers with wireless connectivity for true mobility. Options include:

  • Wi-Fi

    You may send data to a mobile printer using a variety of radio frequencies. But you must have a wireless network (Wi-Fi) set up for this option to work. And then, you are required to operate within the network to successfully send data to the printer.

  • Bluetooth

    Bluetooth is nearly always the better option for wirelessly sending data because the two devices talk directly to each other without requiring you to have a wireless network. However, the devices must be within 33 feet of each other.

    Usually this isn’t a problem—mobile printers are designed to sit on your hip and you will likely be holding the barcode scanner or mobile computer when capturing and sending data. Therefore, you will be in range and can quickly print things such as tickets or receipts, as needed.

Other

There are also advanced connectivity features, including things like:

  • Embedded XML processors that enable printers to decode incoming XML data
  • Interfaces that directly connect to ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems such as SAP and Oracle
  • Fingerprint/direct protocols
  • Note: To see a list of all available connectivity options, refer to the manufacturer’s specifications sheet for each printer model.

Print language

To print labels, your data must “talk” to the printer using a language it understands.

Proprietary languages

Most manufacturers include a proprietary language with their printers. For example, Zebra’s print language is ZPL, Intermec’s is IPL, and Datamax-O’Neil’s is DPL. So if you purchase a Zebra printer, you would create labels using ZPL.

But what happens if you want to change printer brands? Is there an easy way to switch brands without having to reformat everything?

Emulation firmware

Manufacturers have solved this problem. Now, most every printer company offers emulation firmware that enables their product to work with label files designed for other brands.

That means you can send a Zebra file to an Intermec printer and the firmware will convert it to a language that the Intermec printer understands. This feature enables you to protect your hardware investment if you ever need to switch brands.

Label design software

There is another way to avoid the potential language barrier.

When you use label design software such as BarTender or NiceLabel, the software’s printer driver will automatically change the data into a format that your printer understands. This works particularly well for organizations that are new to barcoding or those that are modifying existing systems.

Physical characteristics

Printers work where you need them to.

Size

If you’re cramped on space, they make compact printers for desktops, which are ideal for offices or light industrial settings. Be sure to check the specifications for length, height, and width to ensure your printer will fit perfectly—regardless whether it’s a small desktop, medium card, or large industrial printer.

Durability

As mentioned, not all printers are alike. Some have industrial strength housing (also referred to as form factor) for light, medium, and heavy duty environments. There are also ultra-rugged mobile printers that will resist environmental conditions such as dust, moisture, and heat.

Weight

As with size, the weight of a printer can dictate where it’s used. Consider your location and the surface upon which you will place your printer to ensure it will support the device.

Memory

To ensure you can support necessary applications, you want to check a printer’s Flash and RAM memory. As with any device, if you don’t have enough memory to hold projects in the queue and on your hard drive, you may experience operational difficulties. So check the memory and see whether there are options to add more so you can future proof your business.

Print specifications

If you selected your labels before purchasing a printer (as recommended), then you’ll already know what your requirements are for printing, which include:

  • Supported barcode symbologies, including 1D and 2D
  • Environment, including operating temperature, store temperature, and humidity
  • Maximum label width
  • Maximum label length
  • Thickness
  • Style, including roll-fed, sheet-fed, or fanfold
  • Resolution, including 203, 300, 406, and 600 DPI (dots per inch)
  • Print speed, measured in millimeters per second based on resolution
  • Media type, including direct thermal or thermal transfer for things like labels, tags, tickets, receipts, wristbands, and cards; optional RFID on some brands and models


Barcode Printer Resources


5 Secrets to Extend the Life of Your Barcode Label Printer

In this do-more-with-less world, it’s important to protect your hardware investments so they last as long as you need them to. This holds true for your thermal label printer.

Ditch Excel to Accelerate Your Inventory Management

According to the State of Small Business Report, 46% of SMB’s with 11-500 employees don’t currently track inventory or use a manual inventory process such as tracking in Excel.

Thermal Transfer vs Direct Thermal Printing: Which is Best?

Do you require long-lasting barcodes to identify products and tag assets, or do you need to print items with shorter shelf lives, such as shipping labels, receipts, or tickets?

Direct Thermal Printing Costs Less, Best for Short-Term Use

Direct thermal labels are typically used for applications requiring a short shelf life because they become unreadable when exposed to heat, long periods of direct sunlight, and abrasion.

4 Best Inventory Metrics for Growing Businesses

Key performance indicators (KPI) demonstrate how well businesses are performing. But it’s not always easy for some companies to measure their KPIs.

Delivering Products on Time with Zebra Barcode Printers

One of the most challenging aspects in any business — big or small — is improving logistical efficiency with growth. How do you build a network that sustains accuracy and productivity?





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System ID Barcode Systems

Whether automating business processes for the first time, scaling existing systems, or optimizing environments with the latest barcode technology, System ID has the barcode systems businesses need to improve productivity and profitability. Automate. Scale. Optimize. With System ID Barcode Solutions.