Print speed, quality, and longevity are often the main considerations when selecting a label printer.
Different factors will affect these parameters in different printer models. It is therefore important to consider what your overall label needs are before selecting a printer. This includes the speed and volume at which you need to print, the print quality needed for easy scanning, and how long you need the label to last.
Some of the other areas to consider when choosing a label printer include:
What type of print head do you need?
Label printers have two main varieties, thermal transfer printers, and direct thermal printers. Thermal transfer print heads use a combination of heat and a resin ribbon to transfer the print onto the label. Direct thermal printers on the other hand apply head directly to a heat sensitive label when printing. While direct thermal printers can produce high volumes more quickly, thermal transfer printed labels tend to last longer without fading.
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What label size do you need?
Different label printers will offer a different range of print widths. To choose the width that is right for you consider:
- If there is a standard label size you need to work with
- What information needs to fit onto the label
- How much space is needed to maximize clarity and readability of the labels
What software are you printing from?
Think about where the barcodes are being generated and designed. The image or information that is sent to the printer will either be in the printer proprietary language, which is generally faster and more accurate, or as an image PDF, which is slower and less accurate.
Information is then cached to the printer memory. Depending on the printer memory size, and if the data is repetitive, the printer will then be able to print at is optimum speed. If the data is variable or if the application caches each image before printing, the size and speed of transfer will impact print speed
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What form of connectivity are you using?
Different printers offer different options for communication with the rest of your system. Connection types include: USB, serial, ethernet, blue tooth, or wireless network. Consider what your requirements are in terms of where the printer will sit, how it will connect to the system and what level of reliability or uptime is needed.
What environment will the printer be in?
In a manufacturing or industrial setting one must consider how the external environment might affect the printer. Potential exposure to dust, moisture, or extreme temperatures might require a specialized casing to protect the printer. Where labeling is part of a broader production line, industrial, high-impact or in-line printers can be used as part of a seamless process.