How to choose a barcode printer ?

Posted on June 17 2021

Reading time: 6 minutes

When it comes to managing inventory with a barcode scanner, a company often wonders whether it is better to contact an external supplier for label printing or to do it themselves.

choose a barcode printer

The answer to this question can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of assets to be identified, the quantity, the environment in which they are used, and more.

In fact, there is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it is clear that printing labels in-house is a choice that can become much more economical.

Although it may seem simple at first, choosing to do your own label printing can become complicated.

This is why it is very important to be able to make the right choice in terms of barcode label printers.

Types of printing

Depending on the type of label and the desired duration, one can choose between 2 printing modes for barcode printers.

Direct thermal printing

This type of printer uses a medium that reacts with heat exposure in order to blacken a given area. The printer only supports labels, which is why it is very simple and quick to use.

On the other hand, the life cycle of direct thermal printing labels is shorter, because it reacts less well to humidity, which in the long run can affect legibility.

This is an important consideration for a company when determining what to identify within the organization.

The direct thermal printer is therefore ideal and very effective for shipping labels, assets that do not have a very long life span or those that will remain permanently indoors.

Printing by thermal transfer

This type of printer is equipped with a thermal ribbon, which is affixed to a label by the heat of the printer head.

This printing method offers more durable and higher quality labels, which can be used for items that may be affected by environmental factors, for example.

Unlike direct thermal printing, which requires only a substrate, thermal transfer printers require the thermal ribbon and a label variant, allowing for a variety of label colors.

However, this can cause additional problems and risk of error due to the longer printing time and the higher number of printer components.

how barcode print works

Types of printers

There are 3 different types of barcode printers:

  • Label printers (desktop, industrial, portable)
  • Printers for wristbands
  • Printers for tickets

Depending on the organization, a certain type of printer may be better suited to your needs than others.

It is also important to note that to be able to print your own labels, you must be able to connect the printer to a computer or to a WIFI network.

Industrial printers

Perfect for an organization that needs to create several labels at the same time, it enables fast and high quality printing.

This type of printer is usually very large, so a large space is required if you want to have an industrial printer.

If you are in the manufacturing industry, the industrial printer would probably be your best choice.

Office printers

These are probably the most popular printers for businesses, as they are perfect for small office tasks. These printers can be used to design labels that can go on assets where moisture and dust have no impact.

IT departments, schools and municipalities often opt for this type of printer.

an employee printing a label on a desktop printer

How to choose the right barcode printer

In order to choose a barcode printer, it is important to take into account the characteristics that differentiate the printers under consideration.

These characteristics are: the resolution, the width, the speed and the printing volume.

Next, you need to ask yourself the following question: what do I intend to use the barcode label printer for?

The answer to this question will be crucial in finding the right type of printer for your business. You will then be able to better evaluate the features of the tons of barcode printers currently available on the market.

Hector’s pick

The Zebra printer is designed to print thermal transfer and direct thermal labels. It can print up to 500 QR code and barcode labels and is compatible with Windows software.

Thermal transfer printers

  • 203 dpi : Zebra ZD420t  – Desktop dual barcode printer (about $700 to $800)
  • 300 dpi (better resolution) : Zebra ZD420t  – Desktop dual barcode printer (about $800 to $900)

It is therefore a very efficient and economical choice for an in-house solution.

Hector and barcode inventory management

If you decide to purchase the necessary equipment to make your own labels, combine this solution with Hector to keep track of your assets.

With our Hector software and its mobile application, you will now have an efficient and very economical solution to create, update and track your inventory in real time.

Start your free trial now