Printing & Labelling, Thermal Printing, Barcode Printing, Mobile Printing

A label printer is a computer printer that prints on self-adhesive label material and/or card-stock (tags). A label printer with built-in keyboard and display for stand-alone use (not connected to a separate computer) is often called a label maker. Label printers are different from ordinary printers because they need to have special feed mechanisms to handle rolled stock, or tear sheet (fanfold) stock. Label printers have a wide variety of applications, including supply chain management, retail price marking, packaging labels, blood and laboratory specimen marking, and fixed assets management. Label printers use a wide range of label materials, including paper and synthetic polymer ("plastic") materials. Several types of print mechanisms are also used, including laser and impact, but thermal printer mechanisms are probably the most common.

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Bixolon provides a look into the future of retail printing at Equipmag 2016

Bixolon provides a look into the future of retail printing at Equipmag 2016

Bixolon the global manufacturer of advanced Receipt, Label and Mobile Printers has encouraged visitor's to discover Bixolon's range of retail printing solutions at Equipmag 2016 this week

NiceLabel recognised in Europe’s largest business competition

NiceLabel recognised in Europe’s largest business competition

NiceLabel, developer of label and marking productivity software solutions, has been named National Champion in the European Business Awards (EBA) 2016/17. The Awards' core purpose is to support the development of a stronger and more successful business community throughout Europe.

Brother UK kicks off sponsorship deal with Stalybridge Celtic FC

Brother UK kicks off sponsorship deal with Stalybridge Celtic FC

Information, communication and technology services provider, Brother UK, has been named as the new Official Shirt Sponsor for Stalybridge Celtic Football Club.

Bixolon launches the compact, high performance 2" thermal transfer desktop label printer with built-in Bluetooth

Bixolon launches the compact, high performance 2" thermal transfer desktop label printer with built-in Bluetooth

Global printer manufacturer Bixolon, has announced the launch of the SLP-TX220, 2" (58mm) Thermal Transfer Label Printer.

Seiko Instruments launches new MP-A40 Series mobile printers

Seiko Instruments launches new MP-A40 Series mobile printers

Seiko Instruments USA Inc. (SII) Thermal Printer Division, has announced the availability of its newest mobile printer line known as the MP-A40 Series.

UK lags behind Europe on sustainable IT practices

UK lags behind Europe on sustainable IT practices

Research released by Epson has found the UK is falling behind the rest of Europe on sustainability in office IT and printing, with only 28 percent of UK businesses feeling sustainability is a necessary expenditure in IT procurement.

Troika wins innovation award for print industry analysis tool

Troika wins innovation award for print industry analysis tool

Troika Systems Ltd., the quality control analysis management systems provider for the print industry, has scooped an innovation award at the Stationers' Company Innovation Excellence Awards 2016.

Delhaize reinforce their product innovation capabilities with the Trace One Platform

Delhaize reinforce their product innovation capabilities with the Trace One Platform

Trace One, provider of private label management software, has signed a 4-year contract with Delhaize, extending the scope of their relationship.

How national retailers save when sourcing millions of labels

How national retailers save when sourcing millions of labels

Although most national and regional retail chains view labels as a commodity item, for large operations that consume millions of thermal labels each month, it is a prime operating expense with sourcing decisions made at the corporate level.

NiceLabel announces new CEO

NiceLabel announces new CEO

NiceLabel, developer of label and marking productivity software solutions, has appointed Chris Walsh as Chief Executive Officer.

Global enterprises are looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency and accuracy in their supply chains. To remain competitive, distribution centres, manufacturers, and logistics providers must change the way they label and track goods. Success depends on maximizing efficiency throughout all supply chain operations—front to back. Exploiting mobile labelling technology is fundamental to achieving optimal efficiency.

 

Wireless bar code and radio frequency identification (RFID) label printing is widely recognised by major retailers globally as an essential technology for enhancing store operations. The ability to print real-time information in the aisle, on demand, saves time, effort, and money—creating competitive advantages.

 

Mobile printing gives users the flexibility to print materials on demand wherever they may be. Seamless mobility can drive new business processes that improve worker productivity, labelling accuracy, and responsiveness to customer needs.

 

RFID smart label

 

RFID Smart label printer/encoders use media that has an RFID inlay (chip and antenna combination) embedded within the label material. An RFID encoder inside the printer writes data to the tag by radio frequency transmission. The transmission is focused for the specific location of the tag within the label. Bar codes, text, and graphics are printed as usual. Printable RFID tags contain a low-power integrated  circuit (IC) attached to an antenna and are enclosed  with protective material (label media) as determined  by the application. On-board memory within the IC stores data. The IC then transmits/receives information through the antenna to an external reader, called an interrogator. High frequency (HF) tags use antennas made of a small coil of wires, while ultrahigh frequency (UHF) tags contain dipole antennas with a matching wire loop.

 

Bar code symbols may be produced in a variety of ways: by direct marking, as with laser etching or with ink jet printing; or, more commonly by imaging or printing the bar code symbol onto a separate label. Precision of bar code printing is critical to the overall success of a bar-coding solution.

 

On-site Printing

On-site printing generally takes place at or near the point of use. The data encoded is usually variable, entered by an operator through a keyboard or downloaded from the host computer. On-site printing most often involves purchasing label-design software as well as printer hardware. Bar code printers come with their own proprietary programming languages that support all the standard symbologies, and they are capable of printing simple data-static or serialized bar code labels on their own.

 

However, labels that require additional formatted text, graphics, or multiple fields will require a separate label-design software package. Currently, more than 100 packages exist that are designed for a wide range of platforms and have a wider range of features. Once the purview of programmers, label design can now be accomplished by non-programmers via easy-to-use WYSIWYG graphical interfaces.

 

The most common bar code print technologies for on-site use are:

 

Direct Thermal — Heating elements in the printhead are selectively heated to form an image made from overlapping dots on a heat-sensitive substrate.

 

Thermal Transfer — Thermal transfer printing is a digital printing process in which material is applied to paper (or some other material) by melting a coating of ribbon so that it stays glued to the material on which the print is applied. Thermal transfer technology uses much the same type of printhead as direct thermal, except that an intervening ribbon with resin-based or wax-based ink is heated and transfers the image from the ribbon to the substrate. It contrasts with direct thermal printing where no ribbon is present in the process.

 

Barcode printers with thermal-transfer and direct thermal technology produce accurate, high-quality images with excellent edge definition.

 

Dot Matrix Impact — A moving printhead, with one or more vertical rows of hammers, produces images by multiple passes over a ribbon. These passes create rows of overlapping dots on the substrate to form an image. Serial dot matrix printers produce images character by character; high-volume dot matrix line printers print an entire line in one pass.

 

Ink Jet — This technology uses a fixed printhead with a number of tiny orifices that project tiny droplets of ink onto a substrate to form an image made up of overlapping dots. Ink jet printers are used for in-line direct marking on products or containers.

 

Laser (Xerographic) — The image is formed on an electrostatically charged, photo-conductive drum using a controlled laser beam. The charged areas attract toner particles that are transferred and fused onto the substrate.

 

Off-site Printing

Generally speaking, commercial label printers may use flexographic, letterpress, offset lithographic, rotogravure, photocomposition, hot stamping, laser etching, or digital processes to produce a consistently higher-grade label than those labels produced by on-site printers.

If the content of the bar code symbol is known ahead of use, a commercial label supplier is generally the best choice. However, there are tradeoffs. Commercially supplied labels have to be ordered, stocked, and placed in inventory. A business with frequent product line changes and/or label changes will have to weigh its options carefully.