Printing Barcodes

Once you’re ready to begin printing your barcode labels it is important to not only choose the right software, but also the right kind of printer for the best quality. Printing your own barcode labels is an easy way for your company to increase productivity, reduce costs and improve data management, so you want to do it right.

The first step is to decide what kind of barcode printer you’ll need for your label type. There are so many different types of printers you need to be sure you purchase the best one for what you require. Pictured above is a Zebra ZM400 printer, this printer has both thermal transfer and direct thermal modes and a quick throughput. You’re probably wondering what that even means, that’s why it’s important to ask yourself several questions before making this big purchase:

1. What size labels will I be printing? -typically smaller labels will require a higher quality printer to provide sufficient resolution. You’ll want a printer capable of providing crisp lines and a readable barcode.

2. What kind of conditions will the labels be exposed to? -determining the required life span of your labels will help you decide what kind of printing method would work best. Direct thermal printers are best for common print jobs that don’t require labels to have a long life span, but thermal transfer printers produce durable, long-lasting barcode labels for permanent or long-term labeling applications.

3. What kind of symbologies do I need supported? -you must be sure that you choose an appropriate printer that supports the barcode symbology you’ll be using for your labels. The printer must support the symbologies, graphics and international characters you require. Thermal label printers have the ability to support multiple symbologies, but general purpose laser or inkjet printers may not.

4. What volume of labels will I be printing? -throughput is the true measure of how quickly a printer can complete a print job, it can be an important factor if you’ll be printing a large volume of labels. You don’t want a job to take all day. If you plan on printing a large volume of labels on a regular basis you’ll also want to be sure that you purchase a dependable printer with a long life expectancy.

The second step is to purchase software that supports barcodes. There are many options available and many barcode label design packages have templates for compliance formats used in retail, automotive, distribution and other industries. You need to be sure that the software you have chosen supports the type of labels you’ll be making and the model of printer you have chosen.

Seagull Scientific offers an easy to use label printing software package called BarTender that runs on Windows and supports both laser and thermal printers. Seagull offers a free trial version available for download at this link:

Free BarTender Download

I recommend you download this software and try it out, it may be the perfect label software for your needs. If it’s not, please contact me and I can offer you some different alternatives or get you in touch with someone that can help you decide what’s right for you.   Purchasing the appropriate printer and software for your label needs is an important decision, so feel free to contact me if you need anymore information.  You can read more about the different types of barcode printers in my post Types of Barcode Printers.