Do I Need a Barcode Printer?

Barcode & label printers allow merchants to create adhesive labels that can be used as shelf tags and barcodes. Although many commonly sold items come with barcodes already printed on them, there’s still a meaningful need to label non-barcoded items. Based on our experience, boutiques and other stores selling locally produced goods or unique items frequently have the most need for a label printer.

What type of label printers are there?

There are two primary variables that differentiate label printer. The first is size. Most label printers are either 2” or 4” wide with the 2” model being the most common. The second distinguishing factor is the technology used to print the label. Label printers can use either thermal transfer or direct thermal technology to print the labels.

Do I need a direct thermal printer or a thermal transfer printer?

It depends. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will your labels be in a hot environment (e.g., on a coffee cup or pizza box) or exposed to direct sunlight?
  • Will you printing labels with colored text (other than black)?
  • Will your labels be in place for over a year?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a thermal transfer printer is what you need. Thermal transfer printers are slightly more expensive, but if they fit your specific needs, the extra cost is worth it.

So what are the actual difference in direct thermal and thermal transfer?

Direct thermal printers use heat sensitive paper that darkens when exposed to heat. While printing, the printer head directly contacts the labels and uses heat and pressure to mark the label. Again, these models are slightly cheaper and have longer durability, but the labels are effected by heat and the labels can darken over time.

Thermal transfer use carbon ribbons and heat to impact the labels while printing. This printing method results in a crisper print and a label that can withstand heat and sunlight. Unfortunately, this setup also requires that the ribbon and print head be replaced more frequently.

What kind of labels can I print?

Labels can be customized in a variety shapes and sizes to meet your needs. The most common label size we sell is 2.25” x 1.25”, which is the size of a standard shelf label. Other industry-specific labels that we frequently sell are cigar labels, which are long and thin, jewelry tags, which fold over on themselves to prevents the glue from touching the product, and lawn & garden labels, which are printed on plastic so they can withstand harsh outdoor environments.