Tips and Advice on Bar Code Printers
- Factors to Consider When Choosing a Printer
- Barcode Labeling For Harsh Environments
- Low Price Doesn't Always Mean Best Deal
- Barcode Label Printers Eliminate Shrinkage
- Printing Barcodes From Different Types of Printers
- Brother P-Touch Label Makers And Accessories
- Barcode Labeling Versus RFID
- What is a Barcode?
- The Many Facets of Customized Bar code Labels
- What Do You Want to Accomplish With Barcode Software?
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Printer
Whatever type of label printer you're on the market for, a barcode label printer or some other kind, here are some important features to consider:
- Resolution - for thermal and thermal transfer, you can get 200, 300, and even 600 dots per inch.
- Durability - will you print five labels per day or 10,000 per day?
- Label size - small printers can only print small labels.
- Printer size - large printers tend to be more expensive and the print heads are too.
- Connection type to your system - COM or LPT
- Environmental conditions - metal or plastic cases are available.
The Brother International PT-1650 P-Touch Electronic System is an excellent choice in barcode label printers. This is a label printer with the capabilities you need to implement automated inventory control, barcode-tracked logistics or asset management into your business. It quickly creates automatically sized labels that can include graphics and can even sequentially number the codes.
Barcode Labeling For Harsh Environments
If you are looking for barcode labeling that will endure harsh environments around chemicals or extreme temperatures, you should know which label materials work best in harsh situations.
Should you choose paper, plastic polyester or synthetic labels? Read on to learn how each label material can perform.
- Paper labels with permanent adhesive - these economical labels are compatible with all thermal transfer printers. This material exhibits good initial tack and adhesion to paper products or packaging materials.
- Plastic label with aggressive adhesive - it is moisture, chemical, solvent and smudge resistant. Its strong adhesive works on painted surfaces, metals, polyethylene and fibers. Please note: suggested for indoor use only.
- Polyester - designed with a superior adhesive that aggressively bonds to rough, highly textured substrates, oily and greasy surfaces and low-surface energy plastics. In the harsh industrial conditions of manufacturing, construction, and automotive work where you need to identify such items as tools and equipment or storage containers like drums and stocking bins, this will provide permanent identification without a lot of surface pre-cleaning.
- Synthetic label - is ideal for very low temperatures and difficult surface conditions. Its high tack, aggressive adhesive works well on a wide variety of hard-to-adhere-to substrates like rough, textured finishes. It is not recommended for water submersion or long term outdoor exposure.
Low Price Doesn't Always Mean Best Deal
Bargain doesn't always mean better. Do not be seduced into buying a barcode label printer, barcode printer or label maker simply because it comes with a low price tag. Do your homework to find out if the deal you think is so great will actually cause you more headaches in the future. Here's why:
- Ink or toner could cost more on a low cost printer, which has the potential to cost you far more over the unit's lifetime than the printer itself
- A cheap but noisy printer can unnecessarily aggravate an already stressful work environment
- Features such as built-in Ethernet, duplexing for double-sided pages, and fast output performance can quickly help you recoup the expenses of a more expensive printer through added productivity.
- If it's an older model, check that it has all the features you need. For example, there are some older Brother labelers that do not have an underscore key. Without it, creating labels with e-mail addresses can be a challenge.
Barcode Label Printers Eliminate Shrinkage
A barcode system is an orderly way to keep track of inventory immediately. Here is how it works:
As soon as items arrive, you create a unique barcode label and apply it to your item. Scan the item into your computer system. Your inventory account of this item will increase. When the item is sold, shipped or removed from inventory through use or another method, scan the barcode again and your asset count will be reduced.
This simple process allows you to know, up to the minute, exactly how much inventory you have on hand of each item and the actual value of your total inventory.
The use of a label printer for this purpose identifies inventory reduction that is the result of shrinkage. Shrinkage is a term that refers to inventory that disappears through theft, personal use, or other unethical means. You may think you have trustworthy employees only to learn that you are losing a lot of money because someone is stealing inventory and selling your inventory on the side. Barcode systems also reduce human error. Protect yourself with a trustworthy barcode system created by a barcode label printer.
Printing Barcodes From Different Types of Printers
If your goal is to print barcodes, you may be wondering which type of printer is best for you. A thermal barcode label printer does a great job, but can cost thousands of dollars and is only designed for label printing. If you want to buy a less expensive general purpose printer to print barcodes - such as a laser printers - it will work for you as well as long as you use good software.
Here is the run-down on thermal barcode label printers versus general purpose printers, courtesy of taltech.com:
Thermal transfer barcode printers: These are commonly used printers for barcode labeling. It is most important with this type of printer to make sure that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations for setting up the printer and testing the bar codes. Direct thermal and thermal transfer printers require specific settings for best results depending on the combination of label and ribbon materials. The manufacturer will supply the directions for the correct adjustment for your printer type.
It is also very important to verify bar codes using an ANSI based verifier. This should be done after any change in the label material or any change in the printer or it's settings. It should also be done or a regular basis to ensure quality is maintained and when printing a long run.
To maintain the quality of printed bar codes the manufacturer's directions for cleaning the print head and guide surfaces should be followed. It will also be necessary to replace the thermal printhead eventually as these wear out. When this happens the bar codes will no longer be readable as one or more of the dot elements will not heat properly.
It is so important to verify printed symbols on a regular basis that some thermal printers can be equipped with on-line verifiers.
With thermal printers the quality of the label design software you use will not affect the quality of the printed bar codes.This is because the software is just sending a command to print a bar code - a command that triggers the printer's internal software to actually generate and print the correct bar code.
General purpose printers: general purpose printers, especially laser printers, are excellent for producing bar code labels on sheets of pre-cut labels (such as "Avery" labels) or on continuous feed labels. Obviously, for anyone needing extremely high quantities of bar codes on a daily basis thermal transfer printers with their high speed would be better, but for many users general purpose printers, especially laser printers, are preferable.
Laser printers are also perfect for creating bar codes on documents, such as medical and legal records, coded "mail-merge" letters, etc. Imagesetters, such as Linotronic printers, are used to create high quality, 2540+ dpi, film positives and negatives for commercial printing.
With general purpose printers, including laser, desktop, ink jet, ion deposition, dot matrix and imagesetter, the software used is critical to ensuring readable symbols. There is a wide variety of software packages for creating symbols using general purpose printers. Unfortunately, not all of them produce acceptable quality barcodes. You'll need to do some research and ask experts for what has proven itself to do good quality work.
Brother P-Touch Label Makers And Accessories
Brother label maker products deliver exceptional performance and quality.
If you're on the market for a label maker, it's worth considering a brand by Brother. Whether it's a Brother P-touch Label Maker or some other type, Brother has a reputation for easy installation of labels in its machines.
With most label printers, changing rolls is a pain, which discourages switching between label formats. Brother's label rolls come already mounted on spools that you just drop into the printer, and the feed design makes it unusually easy to thread the labels. All of this means that changing from one format to another is quick and easy, and something you're much more likely to do.
Some Brother label maker models are can fit in the palm of your hand-such as the Brother International PT-1650 P-Touch Electronic Labeling System. It is a durable and rugged handheld automatic labeler. The labeling system uses flexible ID tape and rotated print for cable wrapping and flagging, industrial strength laminated tapes for patch panel labeling, and standard laminated tapes for faceplate labeling. The handheld Brother P-Touch label maker can create labels with graphics and bar codes up to 1 inch wide. The label maker has the ability to download databases, custom templates and graphics. The memory functions store frequently used label designs. It has many uses for applications in telecom, cabling, asset management, property management, manufacturing, and general office.
Brother is always on the cutting edge of technology and design. Its products are also easy to use, have a lot of helpful features and are affordable.
Take note that if you need a label that must take abrasion, make sure your label maker or printer is designed to give you the best performance in that arena. This is because some labels from Brother will not take abrasion well.
And don't forget to accessorize your Brother P-Touch label maker. Here are some accessory choices:
- Tape separator
- Power adapter
- Battery pack
- Cutter blade
- Hard carrying case
These accessories range in price from $3 to $90.
Barcode Labeling Versus RFID
Industry experts have been debating whether RFID (radio frequency identification) labeling will be more sought after than barcode labeling in the future.
According to an article in Labels & Labeling Magazine, barcode labels are in no danger of becoming obsolete. That's because there are detriments to using the new smart technology of RFID.
Barcode labels are simply ink printed onto paper or plastic. RFID labels are more complex, with a chip and circuit arrangement in the label.
The downside of RFID labels:
- They are not as capable of performing in extreme temperatures because of the technology embedded in them.
- The cost of RFID hardware is four times that of comparable bar code equipment
- One of the most widely promoted benefits of RFID is that the technology allows tags to be scanned at greater distances than traditional bar codes, which typically require a proximity reader. The advantages of this in the retail industry are obvious. However, in the majority of situations, a simple bar code scanner can be more than adequate and is considerably more reliable.
- The failure rate of bar codes is almost zero, compared to the 5 to 12 percent failure rate that is typical of RFID readers.
- Up to 30 percent of RFID-read errors result in requiring a reprinted tag.
- According to industry experts, up to 50 percent of RFID systems being implemented now may fail within the first three years, which will be costly to companies. The reasons behind this vary from the complexity and lack of knowledge surrounding RFID to the need for a complete cultural change within the supply chain, driven by internal and external factors ranging from trends in Internet shopping to organizational downsizing.
- The number of experts familiar with RFID is considerably lower, while choice of both equipment and suppliers is much smaller
- Various consumer groups have voiced concerns that RFID is just another way for "Big Brother" to be watching us.
Barcode labeling is a good idea, says Labels & Labeling Magazine, because the technology has been in use for a number of years and has proved reliable and suitable in a wide range of applications. Also, staff across the board, from junior warehouse and shop floor employees to senior management, are familiar and competent with its use. The technology is also compatible and fully supported internationally and therefore can be standardized across international borders.
What is a Barcode?
We've all seen barcode labels on products we've purchased. But have you ever really stopped to think about what a barcode really is and how it works?
A barcode label consists of a series of parallel, adjacent bars and spaces. Predefined bar and space patterns or "symbologies" are used to encode small strings of character data into a printed symbol. Barcodes can be thought of as a printed type of the Morse code with narrow bars and spaces representing dots, and wide bars representing dashes. A barcode reader decodes a barcode label by scanning a light source across the bar code and measuring the intensity of light reflected back by the white spaces.
There are a variety of different types of barcode encoding schemes or "symbologies", each of which were originally developed to fulfill a specific need in a specific industry. The different symbologies have different capabilities for encoding data. For example the UPC symbology used to identify retail products always contains 12 numeric digits whereas the general purpose Code 39 or Code 128 bar code symbologies can encode variable length alphanumeric data up to about 30 characters in length.
The Many Facets of Customized Barcode Labels
When it comes to creating custom bar code labels, the sky is the limit. Get as creative as you want. Choose your shape, color, material and symbology. Custom bar code labels can be created using many combinations of these categories and more. Here are some examples of what's available:
Face stocks - paper, vinyl, destructible vinyl, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene , synthetic paper, tamper evident
Shapes and sizes - butterfly labels, die cut or butt cut, custom die cuts, rolled or fan folded, perforated, wound in/out, slit
Symbologies: Code 128, Code 39, UPC, EAN, PDF 417, MaxiCode, DataMatrix, QR Code
Adhesives -removable, permanent, exposure resistant, low temperature (freezer labels)
Colors - flood coated, multi-color, laminated, reflective
Graphics - fonts, artwork, logos, serialized
What Do You Want to Accomplish With Barcode Software?
There is barcode creator software on the market to help you create barcodes easily.
To determine which barcode creator software is best for you, first you must ask yourself what you need the barcode software for. That's because there is:
- Barcode production software: for printing barcodes on labels, documents, tickets, etc.
- Barcode data collection software: for collecting data from bar code readers, magnetic stripe readers, RF data collection equipment, scales and other devices into PC application programs and databases
- Database and inventory control software: storing data from barcodes in a computer for inventory and other purposes. Looking up recorded data, adding, removing and changing items, printing recorded data and manipulating saved data in various ways.