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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Locking it in: Reducing the risks of additive manufacturing

Locking it in: Reducing the risks of additive manufacturing

With new frontiers constantly being pushed, few would deny that the opportunities presented by 3D printing/additive manufacturing are a plenty – including possibilities around virtual inventories and even distributed manufacturing.

7-in-10 retail leaders say 3D printing results in happier, more satisfied customers

7-in-10 retail leaders say 3D printing results in happier, more satisfied customers

Satisfying consumer demands for rapid fulfilment and customisation, a new study commissioned by Ricoh Europe reveals the vital role retail business leaders see new printing technologies playing in driving their competitive advantage.

Hotter than lava flow – this printing ink can withstand 1000° C

Hotter than lava flow – this printing ink can withstand 1000° C

A stream of red lava can run as high as between 600 and 900 degrees. And things can get even hotter in industrial settings – for example, in a ceramic furnace.

New additive manufacturing smart language developed to create seamless production cycle

New additive manufacturing smart language developed to create seamless production cycle

Additive manufacturing – widely known as 3D printing – is set to transform industry. But for its full potential to be unlocked, there will have to be a smart language that enables proper communication between designers and engineers. Research at the University of Huddersfield aims to provide it.

Line matrix printers won't let you down if temperatures tip 40°C

Line matrix printers won't let you down if temperatures tip 40°C

In this prolonged hot dry spell, Printronix LLC is reminding businesses that its line matrix industrial printers can withstand temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F), whereas devices like laser printers are highly sensitive to humidity and extremes in temperatures, often causing them to jam or stop working.

ILS rolls out labelling solution to leading meat netting company

ILS rolls out labelling solution to leading meat netting company

TruNet (UK) Ltd, part of leading global food netting company The TruNet Group, has invested in state-of-the-art labelling equipment from Industrial Labelling Systems (ILS) to improve productivity in the packing operation at its factory in Leicestershire.

Videojet launches its latest Thermal Transfer Overprinter, with built-in code assurance capabilities, offering manufacturers a superior user experience

Videojet launches its latest Thermal Transfer Overprinter, with built-in code assurance capabilities, offering manufacturers a superior user experience

Videojet Technologies, a global leader in coding, marking and printing solutions, is proud to introduce the Videojet 6230 Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO), an easy-to-use printer that helps manufacturers reduce flexible packaging coding errors, and improve Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Smurfit Kappa embracing digitalisation of corrugated industry by developing new range of paper

Smurfit Kappa embracing digitalisation of corrugated industry by developing new range of paper

Smurfit Kappa is continuing to bring digital innovation to the corrugated industry by developing a range of multi-purpose paper that will be suitable for both digital and flexographic printers.

7-in-10 healthcare professionals say print has the power to transform patient care

7-in-10 healthcare professionals say print has the power to transform patient care

From easing budgetary pressures to personalising care for chronic conditions, a new study commissioned by Ricoh Europe reveals the disruptive impact new printing technologies are having on European healthcare systems.

European spending on 3D printing forecast to grow at a CAGR of 15.3% to nearly $7.4 billion in 2022, according to IDC's 3D Printing Spending Guide

European spending on 3D printing forecast to grow at a CAGR of 15.3% to nearly $7.4 billion in 2022, according to IDC's 3D Printing Spending Guide

European purchases of 3D printers, materials, software, and related services are expected to total $3.6 billion in 2017.

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.

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