Articles

ZEBRA® LABELS FOR BARCODE PRINTERS


There has been talk in recent years of barcode labels going the way of the Dodo. New technology called RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is supposed to take over the market currently occupied by barcodes. RFID, however, is quite pricey and therefore unlikely to surpass barcodes any time in the near future. In the mean time, Zebra labels are making strides to bridge the gap between technologies while maintaining a strong hold on the barcoding market.

Zebra labels are still a common feature at companies that print standard barcode labels. Direct thermal labels, printed on thermal paper using a heat reaction, are one type that will likely remain useful. Since direct thermal labels and printers are the least costly, they should remain popular as long as other types continue to be more expensive. There are also Zebra labels for Thermal transfer barcoding. These labels are much more durable than direct thermal labels as they do not require thermal paper and therefore do not react in the same way to heat, sunlight and chemical vapors. While more expensive than direct thermal, these labels are still less expensive to make than RFID.

However, knowing the winds of change are blowing in the direction of RFID dominance, Zebra labels now come in a “smart label” variety. These labels include an RFID inlay. With a variety of sizes and styles of inlays available, “smart labels” provide enhanced security by increasing the difficulty of making counterfeit labels. Because they can be read by either barcode scanners or RFID interrogators, when the time comes, it is likely that many retail markets will want manufacturers to use these smart labels, at least for a while. This will allow them to replace their barcode scanners as times and funding allow.

Zebra labels are on the cutting edge with barcode technology. They have been a staple of the market for years, and with the new “smart label”, they look to dominate in the years to come.

Zebra® and the Zebra Logo are registered trademarks of ZIH Corp.

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