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Barcode Printers: Types and Printing Mechanism

Barcode Printers: Types and Printing Mechanism

When it comes to streamlining various businesses like inventory management and asset tracking, barcodes play a vital role, and these barcodes are printed by barcode printers. Barcode is a frequently used technology in retail and FMCG. Use of barcodes is predominantly because it simplifies various business operations and improves the overall functionality of businesses. The first use of barcodes in retail business goes back to early 1970s (1974) when IBM came up with UPC barcodes and first barcode scanners that was used in an Ohio retail store.

Barcode printers typically use labels or tags that are made up of various materials, such as paper, vinyl, and polyester. They have different shapes and sizes and are accordingly used in various business sectors like warehouses, logistic facilities, manufacturing companies, and other business operations where barcode label tracking is needed for more efficient and productive functioning.

What are Barcode Printers? 

Barcode printers are specialized machines that can print a barcode onto various materials and labels. They feature an advanced software support system and microchips that allow them to accurately read the barcodes every time. It is generally used in various industries, such as retail, logistics, and healthcare, to create labels for products for inventory management and tracking.

Barcode Printing Process

For printing on barcode labels, special barcode printers, thermal transfer and direct thermal transfer printers are used. These are advanced barcode printers that are often used in industries and commercial application across various business domains. Barcode printing is done in following steps:

1. Data Input: The process of barcode printing starts from the stage of receiving the data from a computer system or database, or it can be manually entered into the printers. The barcode printer receives this data to be printed in the form of a barcode.

2. Barcode Generation: After receiving input data, the printer generates the barcode image using that data. It converts alphanumeric or numeric data into the form of barcodes that can be easily scanned by a barcode scanner.

3. Label Design: The software of the printer allows the user to design the layout of the barcode labels. This includes the size, shape, and orientations to be printed alongside the barcodes, like the product name, price, or expiration date of the product.

4. Material selection: Depending on the user's requirements, the printer operates on selected label materials. This can be based on various factors like durability, adhesive quality, and desired printing quality.

5. Printing Process: Barcode printers use a thermal printing process to transfer a barcode image onto label materials. There are two types of thermal printing techniques commonly used: 

  1. Direct thermal Printing, and
  2. Thermal transfer printing.

a) Direct Thermal Printing: Direct Thermal transfer printing is a method in which the printer heats thermal print heads, which come into direct contact with a label, and then the heat is generated due to the contact. It triggers the chemical reaction, resulting in the formation of a barcode image. This method is suitable for a short-term application, as the label can fade over time.

b) Thermal Transfer Printing: This method uses a thermal transfer ribbon technique, where the printer applies heat to ribbons, then melts the ink and transfers it onto the label materials. It generates a permanent and durable barcode image. It is a long-lasting method for applications. Thermal transfer barcode printers are used to print shipping labels, product labels and tickets.

6. Printing Quality: The printer is responsible for barcode labels that are printed accurately and with high quality. They monitor the printing process to check for errors, smudges, or misalignments that can decrease the quality and readability of the barcode.

7. Label Distribution: After the barcode labels are printed, the printer can automatically dispense them, or they can be manually removed from the printers. The labels are then ready to be distributed to the desired products or inventory.

 What are the different types of barcode printers?

The barcode label printing is divided into two main categories: desktop and industrial printers.

1. Desktop printers: Desktop printers are small in size, which makes them compact and easier to use on a desktop. These printers are typically designed to be used in low-printing quality and quantity, like in retail shops on price tag labels or as receipt printers.

This kind of printer, in general, deals with less than 500 labels in one day. So, they are ideal for use in business offices and light printing tasks.

2. Industrial printers: Industrial printers are used in large-scale business and other industrial applications. They are designed for high-quantity printing applications and can handle larger label sizes and rolls.

They have a bigger media and storage capacity and can print at increased resolution to produce different kinds of labels. Industrial tags are bigger and better than desktop printers. They can hold big data and are efficient at printing from 0.5 to 0.8 inches wide.

Apart from desktop and industrial barcode printers, mobile barcode printers are also used. Mobile barcode printers are small portable printers that are best suited to small commercial entities and offer high degree of seamless barcode label printing.

What are the common uses for barcode printers?

Barcode printers are commonly used in warehouse and logistics management to help track inventory, shipments, and deliveries. They are also used in manufacturing and other industrial applications to maintain a track record of products and components.

For example, retailers must put pricing labels on the products, and they also need barcode printers to print receipts for the items.

To conclude, barcode printers have helped us provide various business-related solutions. Due to the implementation of the barcode, it became an easy task to get information about various items. They have helped in providing fast and efficient ways to access and retrieve information. All this information will help in understanding barcode printers and their types and selecting them according to user requirements. It can further help in various sectors like retail, manufacturing, logistics, and books.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1) How long do barcode printer print heads last?

The life expectancy of barcode print heads will depend on the type of material you are printing on and the settings (printing quality) of your printer. In most cases, print heads will last for hundreds or a thousand prints before their replacements. They also have the feature of auto-calibration and other built-in maintenance systems to help extend their print head life.

 Q2) How do I set up a barcode printer?

It is a relatively easy task to set up a barcode printer. Most printers come with instruction manuals that are easy to follow. You just need to connect the printers to your computer systems, and it is necessary to install the required software. Once the printer is installed, you are good to go.

Q3) What is the function of a barcode printer?

 A barcode printer is a computer peripheral for printing barcode labels, or tags that can be attached to, or directly printed on physical objects. It is generally used to label cartons before shipments or to label retail items with UPCs.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Oct 23, 2023
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