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Barcode Printers Information

Barcode printers are designed to print barcodes, graphics and text onto barcode labels, tags, or sometimes tickets. We sell and support barcode printers from a number of leading manufacturers including Zebra, Epson, Cognitive, TSC, Datamax O'Neil and Sato.

Barcode printers are broken into two main categories: Industrial and Desktop. Industrial printers are designed to withstand the rigors of high-volume barcode label printing in production environments, while desktop printers work well for lighter-duty retail and office environments. We also carry portable, inkjet and RFID barcode printers.

Most barcode printers on the market today use thermal printing technology. Before purchasing a barcode label printer, you should understand the two common methods thermal barcode printers use to print labels: direct thermal and thermal transfer.

Pros & Cons of Direct Thermal V.S. Thermal Transfer Printing

A question we are frequently asked is "what is the difference between thermal transfer printers and direct thermal printers?" The answer is simple. The main difference between the two methods is that direct thermal printers do not use ribbons. Direct thermal receipt printers use a special heat-sensitive paper stock. The printer head activates the heat sensitive coating on the paper, forming a black image. In contrast, thermal transfer printers use ribbons. The ink is transferred under heat and pressure to the paper. The color and other characteristics of the imprint can be changed by changing ribbons.

Because the direct thermal printing method uses the heat of the printhead to create the image on heat-sensitive paper, after a period of time the barcode will fade and the label itself will begin to blacken. Therefore, the direct thermal method is great for temporary labels, such as shipping labels, but not ideal for use on shelved items or items that will be exposed to high temperatures or direct sunlight.

In conclusion, direct thermal printing is an inexpensive way to print labels for temporary use. If you need labels to last longer than 6 months, choose a thermal transfer printer. Heat is still used in the thermal transfer process, but the heat does not come in contact with the paper itself, so once the image is printed, it withstands a variety of environmental conditions. Supplies for thermal transfer printing are more expensive because both ribbon and label stock must be replenished regularly.

While we offer many well-known desktop and industrial printers, the Zebra barcode printer offers the best cost-to-performance value. If you're in the market for a barcode printer and need more information on our great selection, contact our sales staff at 1-800-903-6571.

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