Advancements in technology have revolutionized the way we do business and similarly, printing has also seen huge development and innovation in these past few decades. One of the revolutionary technologies in printers was thermal printers, invented in 1965, which changed how we print labels and tags.
Incorporating RFID label printing into your business requires an RFID printer. This technology helps streamline the identification, tracking, and management of products.
RFID printing refers to printing valuable information such as brand logo, QR code and other details referring the asset and it does not refer to fabrication of RFID tags/inlays, which is done separately. The reason we need RFID printers is that printing on an RFID label or hard tag is extremely complicated task and it can be only done with an RFID printer.
Various businesses in retail, supply chain and manufacturing, warehousing, asset management, access control, etc. require RFID printers to customize an RFID tag. Some of the RFID printers are also capable of encoding an RFID tag.
What are RFID Printers?
RFID printers are thermal printers that are specially designed for encoding and printing RFID labels and tags with barcodes, alphanumeric text, and graphics.
These printers work similarly to regular printers but are designed for printing and encoding RFID tags during the printing process itself.
How RFID Printers Work?
Two main components of RFID printers are RFID chips and antennas are already built-in to the printers to print smart labels. An RF encoder inside the printer is responsible for transmitting and encrypting the data into the labels. This printed data is also verified by the printer to determine whether they are encoded correctly or not. The print head plays an important role in printing the information on the labels. So, the print head must be heated properly before being pressed on the thermal ribbon at the back during thermal transfer. The printed image is produced when the print head melts the ribbon, and it transfers the color to the front.
Types of RFID Printers
RFID printers come in various specifications, shapes, and sizes, allowing businesses to find the best printer according to their needs.
1. Industrial printers
An industrial printer can print over 10,000 tags, which makes them suitable for high-volume production manufacturing. These printers are rugged and durable, and they can be used in most applications.
They also have advanced features like built-in maintenance software. It also has a large media capacity. These RFID printers are capable of performing complex printing tasks with ease.
2. Desktop printers
Desktop Printers have smaller printing widths and lower printing speeds compared to industrial printers, but they are still capable of encoding data onto labels easily.
They are more affordable than industrial printers. They are also capable of printing more than 500 tags in a day. Usually, desktop printers are made to be used in offices and stores.
3. Mobile printers
Mobile printers are advanced RFID printing devices. These printers can print more than 200 tags in a day. These mobile printers are portable and lightweight devices, which makes them perfect for companies that need to encode tags. These printers are best used in challenging environments.
Mobile printers generally feature connectivity options like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with existing systems.
RFID Printers: Applications
RFID printers are valuable tools for industries and applications. Let’s see some of the applications of RFID printers in various business settings:
Retail businesses can use RFID printers to encode model numbers and pricing details onto the RFID tags. RFID tags make it easier to store data to identify the product effectively.
Many retailers also use RFID to provide customers with an enhanced shopping experience, such as the ability to locate a particular item quickly and some special and personalized discount offers. And desktop RFID printers come in handy in retail operations.
RFID printers are encoded with product information like its manufacturing dates and batch number on tags before packaging them into the boxes, saving time and manual labor in this process. Industrial and mobile RFID printers are used in the manufacturing sector.
Warehouses and shopping centers encode cargo information like serial number codes onto RFID labels, allowing companies to track shipments in real-time. Industrial and mobile RFID printers can be used here depending on the scale of operations.
Hospitals use RFID applications to identify patients' records or medical equipment. They also use RFID solutions to track the movement of medicines within the hospital premises. A desktop RFID printer or a mobile RFID printer would suffice in such environments.
Companies can use RFID printers to create a secure access card, enabling users to provide access control to a building or infrastructure. A mobile/desktop RFID printer is most suitable for security purposes.
RFID printers can print some custom-built barcodes or QR codes that link users directly to an online database system, provide an extra layer of security, and protect users from possible threats.
To conclude, RFID printers have changed some traditional techniques of buying and managing the process of any product, which were slow, and the chance of errors was high when using them. RFID printers have provided an ultimate solution to printing a specialized code, which can help in providing efficiency in various businesses and enhancing customer experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What type of data can be encoded on a tag using an RFID printer?
The UHF Gen2 specification states that data must be encoded in an RFID tag; there is a limited amount of data that can be stored in an RFID tag.
RFID tags can typically encode a hexadecimal number ranging between 8 and 64 characters or between 4 and 32 ASCII characters.
In hexadecimal, 16 characters can be ranged from 0 to 9 and A to F.
In ASCII, it uses 128 characters, both lowercase and uppercase alphabets, numbers from 0 to 9, and some special characters as well.
Q2) How can software solutions be used in RFID printers?
Establishing communications with RFID printers is usually done by sending raw commands directly from a computer system or by using full-fledged software support. Sending raw commands through computer systems is not recommended for printing large-scale barcodes, and it is not a long-term practice to pass commands from the systems.
Software products are pre-programmed to make this process eco-friendly; they remove the chances of human errors and are capable of printing barcodes according to user demands.
Q3) How do I choose the right type of ribbon to use?
There are different types of ribbon that can be used by RFID printers: wax ribbon, wax resin ribbon, and resin ribbon. The right type of ribbon for you will depend on what material you are printing on and what level of quality you need in your image or text.
1. Wax ribbons are more cost-friendly compared to any other kind of ribbon. They are commonly used on paper labels for both coated and non-coated labels. They generally lead to shorter life spans.
2. Wax-resin ribbons lie among mid-range performers concerning their price and image quality. They typically use a paper-coated label with glossy, smooth surfaces as well as synthetic surfaces. This ribbon has a longer life span because it is more resistant to scratches and abrasions.
3. Resin ribbon rolls have higher price points because they offer high performance, like printing clarity and sharp images, and they are recommended for synthetic labels and garment labels.