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Barcode Label Printer Technology

What is a Barcode Printer

In this article I will try my best to explain what a barcode printer is (also known as a Label Printer), how it works and the different types that are available.

Labels with Barcodes and Text

When we look in most commercial stores you will see labels stuck either on shelves or on products. These labels will most probably show a price, description and a barcode.

In warehouses and store rooms the shelves will be marked with labels displaying part numbers, descriptions and barcodes.

All these labels are printed on Label Printers or Barcode Printers (same thing).

The labels come on rolls containing various amounts of labels. The size of the rolls you purchase will depend on the model of label printer you purchase.

The roll of label normally fits inside the printer with the labels fed through the print assembly. On most of the desktop barcode printers, the roll of label can not have a huge diameter but this can be overcome by using an external Label Roll Holder.

These external Label Roll Holders are not expensive and can save you in the long term by being able to purchase larger rolls containing more labels.

Print Methods Used By Barcode Printer

There are basically three different Print Methods used to print the labels.

  1. Direct Thermal also referred to as DT
  2. Thermal Transfer also referred to as TT
  3. Inkjet method used by colour label printers

Direct Thermal Printing

Printing by using the Direct Thermal method is achieved with no ribbon but on specially made Thermal Paper Labels. The paper turns black where heat is applied to it. The printers Print Head applies the heat to the paper causing the print and barcodes etc.

This type of printing is ideal for labels that do not have to last for a long time as they fade and get damaged by moisture, heat or scuffing.

Direct Thermal printed labels are used for example in supermarkets on the packets of meat that they pack or the labels on the plastic bags on the weighed fruit/vegetables. These products are only passed through the POS’s scanner and generally not scanned again. So the DT method is perfect.

Thermal Transfer Printing

If you require a printed label that is durable and long lasting you will need to use the Thermal Transfer print method using a Ribbon.

The ribbon passes between the printers print head and the label. The print head applies heat to the ribbon, burning the ink onto the label. There are different types of label that can be used to suite your application. The label material can be discussed with your label supplier. They will be able to recommend the best type of label.

Thermal Transfer printed labels are ideal for products that are manufactured or packed and sent to various distributors and need to be read or scanned a number of times. Also used for shelf marking etc.

Thermal Ribbons are available in Wax, Wax/Resin and Resin. The ribbon you will need will depend on the type of label material you purchase. The label supplier will be able to tell you which type of ribbon will work best with your label.

Inkjet colour Label Printers

The colour label printers use ink cartridges to print on labels resulting in labels with various colours. These printers are still quite expensive but are becoming more popular. There is not much to say about this print method but read more on the Epson C3500 colour label printer.

Barcode Printers Three Categories

The Barcode or Label Printers can be basically be put in three categories.

Desktop Barcode Printer

This Barcode Printer is ideal for low to medium volume label printing (1000 labels a day). They are mostly made of durable plastic and ideally placed on a desk or table.

Ideal uses are – Postal & mailing, Laboratory specimen, labeling Inventory, labeling Document, labeling Parts marking, Patient Tracking, Shipping and receiving, Retail tag Stationary, labeling Electronics parts etc.

The desktop barcode printer are available in Direct Thermal (DT) or Themal Transfer (TT) models. The DT printers can only be used for Direct Thermal printing but the TT printers can print using the Direct Thermal print method as well as the Thermal Transfer print method. The most popular printers are the Thermal Transfer type as they add the choice of what print method to use.

Industrial Barcode Printer

Industrial printers are designed to print huge volumes of label and are constructed with durable metal covers and body. They can handle harsh industrial environments.

Uses for Industrial Printers include – retail tags, shelf labelling, health care, inventory labelling, transportation, logistics, document labelling, ticketing, manufacturing, nursery labels and tags.

The industrial barcode printers are available in Direct Thermal (DT) or Themal Transfer (TT) models. The DT printers can only be used for Direct Thermal printing but the TT printers can print using the Direct Thermal print method as well as the Thermal Transfer print method. The most popular printers are the Thermal Transfer type as they add the choice of what print method to use.

Mobile Barcode Printers

The mobile Label and Receipt printers are generally all Direct Thermal Printers. These Mobile Receipt Printers come with various connectivity options like USB, Bluetooth and WiFi. Easily connect to Android and IOS.

For more information on these type of printers view JNS Technologies Website.

Connectivity of Barcode Label Printers

The most common connections that Printers have are Parallel, Serial, USB, Ethernet, Bluetooth and WiFi.

The older Barcode Printer normally had the Parallel interface but it has been phased out in the newer models. There are however still models like the Argox OS 214 Plus that comes standard with Parallel, Serial and USB.

The new models normally come standard with USB, Serial and Ethernet Ports. Some like the Argox O4-250 can have modules inserted that can add Bluetooth and WiFi interfaces further expanding their usability.

For more information on Barcode Label Printers visit JNS Technologies Website or Contact me to discuss your requirements.


Demo of an Argox OS214Plus Printing Labels (Not the best quality video)


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