Barcode Label Printing Advice

Edited From Our Newsletter: Label Advice from a Barcoding Expert

Barcode labels may look similar from afar, but, regardless of looks, they can be very different. When choosing a barcode label, the barcode printer, label paper, surrounding conditions and ribbons must all be taken into consideration.

Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer

Direct thermal barcode printers use a print head that heats up to make marks on the barcode label. Because of this, heat sensitive labels must be used and ribbons are not needed. However, if your application involves extreme heat or sunlight, such as horticulture barcode labels, keep in mind that the label is heat sensitive and will turn black when exposed.

Thermal transfer barcode printers use a ribbon—the print head works with the ribbon to put ink onto the labels. Thermal transfer barcode printers offer long-lasting labels and a wide variety of label material options.

What You’re Labeling
Depending on where you plan on putting your barcode label, you may need a specific kind of label. For example, if you need to label a cardboard box, a paper label will suffice. But, if you are labeling fixed assets, such as computers, you will need a synthetic material such as PolyPro because it will last longer than paper. If you need a UID compliant barcode label, you will need a different material. Or, for retail applications such as mattresses and pillows, you may need to print a barcode on a special tag.

Barcode Printer Ribbons
If you choose a thermal transfer barcode printer, you’ll need to choose a ribbon:

  • Wax: A good fit for paper label
  • Wax/Resin: Works with synthetic material like PolyPro
  • Resin: Works on labels that are suited for gas, oil, outside, weather resistant

Stand Out
Just because barcodes are black and white, doesn’t mean your barcode label has to be. Consider adding color to your barcode labels to stand out.

Once you’ve chosen your barcode printer, label type, ribbon and colors and the barcodes are printed, be sure to apply the labels properly.

If you run into any barcode label problems, questions or concerns, contact a barcode label specialist!

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