Barcode printers are specialized computer peripherals designed to print barcodes. Technology used by these machines is specifically built to create barcode labels. They also employ software developed to create barcodes based on common standards like EAN or UPC. Due to their nature, these printers are considerably less expensive than all purpose printers with a broader gamma of features and capabilities. What is normally required of these printers is a high efficiency at a low cost.
Most of today barcode printers use one of two different technologies: direct thermal printing or thermal transfer printing. The former uses a special paper which turns black upon contact with heat, thus producing the requested barcodes into the surface of the paper. The later technology uses ink to print the barcodes. Ink is transferred into another kind of special paper using heat, so the reason for the name. Direct thermal is considerably cheaper than thermal transfer printing and it is more popular. Price range for these printers can vary from 300 to 1200 dollars, depending on the features they may have.
Normally, barcode printers are manufactured by specialized companies in association with software companies. They need to work together in order to ensure accuracy in the printing process, no matter the technology used. Around the market of barcode printers, several brands of accessories have emerged. This additional equipment includes ribbons, print heads and label stock, among other things.
Barcode printers can be found serving different markets, from manufacturing to transportation, from medicine to retail. Almost every finished product today needs to be accompanied by some sort of standard identification in the form of a barcode label. Without this identification, it would be impossible for some companies to maintain the necessary order in their logistic processes to ensure optimal efficiency in their daily operations.