If you are getting ready to purchase a barcode printer for your business there are many factors to consider. How many barcodes will you need to print daily? How many varieties of barcodes will you need? Do you only need barcode labels or will you need the ability to print barcodes directly on items? What is the environment in which your barcodes will be printed and stored? What option will be most cost effective for your company?

While a regular office printer can have upgrades installed that will allow it to print barcodes, the number of symbologies it can use are very limited. Therefore, most businesses need to look at specialty barcode printers and make a choice between direct thermal and thermal transfer.

Direct thermal barcode printers require a significantly lower initial investment. However, they can only print barcodes on special thermal paper. This not only limits their potential use, it also means an extra cost for purchasing the paper. In addition, this paper cannot withstand heat, sunlight or chemical fumes without having a reaction that can ruin the printed image, making the barcode unreadable.

Thermal transfer barcode printers avoid these difficulties by employing a different printing method. This type of printer works by melting a waxy substance onto a ribbon and running the ribbon over the material being labelled. Heat transfers the ink onto the print surface. This allows for the barcodes to be printed on surfaces other than paper. If security is an issue, some thermal transfer printers also have the ability to print barcode labels with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips in them. This factor prevents counterfeit barcode labels from slipping through.

While they are initially more expensive, as thermal paper is not required for printing, it is a one-time investment. When one considers the versatility of thermal transfer barcode printers, coupled with their potential for added security, it is clear that they are the preferred solution to the barcoding needs of most companies.

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