While it may seem acceptable at first glance to simply upgrade your office printer when your company decides to print its own barcode labels. However, as these add-ons only allow for a select number of barcode symbologies, the choice is rather short-sighted. Instead, you should consider purchasing a barcode printer which is designed for the specific purpose of printing barcode labels.

That, however, is the easy decision. Once you decide to buy a barcode printer, you still have a lot of choices. There are different companies, different sizes, and different models. The task can seem overwhelming, but the first step is one of the most important: choosing between the two main types of printers, direct thermal and thermal transfer.

The two types differ in a few ways; one of the primary ways is how they utilize heat to print the barcode images. Direct thermal barcode printers use special thermal paper. The paper reacts to the heat supplied by the print head, and turns black wherever it is heated. These printers are the less costly of the two. However, direct thermal printers have some issues. Firstly, they can only print on the thermal paper. The paper itself is the second potential problem in that the images can be degraded if exposed to chemical vapors, direct sunlight or heat, rendering the barcodes useless.

Thermal transfer barcode printers use heat to melt a wax-like substance onto a print ribbon. The ribbon is then run over the material needing the barcode, and heat transfers the ink to the material. Thermal transfer printers are not limited to printing on thermal paper and can therefore transfer images to a variety of materials. They do, however, cost more than direct thermal printers.

It is imperative that your company’s needs are closely examined prior to deciding which style of barcode printer to purchase for your business.

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