Label printer

Label printer

A label printer is a computer peripheral that prints on self-adhesive label material and sometimes card-stock (also called tags). Label printers are different from ordinary printers because they need to have special feed mechanisms to handle rolled stock, or tear sheet (fanfold) stock. Common connectivity for label printers include RS-232 serial, USB serial, parallel, Ethernet and wireless.

When printing on continuous label stock, there is a tendency for the print location to shift slightly from label to label. To ensure registration of the print area with the target media, label printers use a sensor that detects a gap, notch, line or perforation between labels. This allows the printer to adjust the intake of label stock so that the print aligns correctly with the media.

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 - Direct Thermal & Thermal Transfer

Label Printers use a wide range of label materials, including paper and synthetic polymer materials. (The term label printer is also commonly used to refer to commercial printing companies who specialize in the manufacture of product labels, especially self-adhesive labels for jars, bottles and other types of product containers and packaging.)

There are two types of thermal printers [ [ What Are Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer RFID Printers?] , RFID Radio] :

*Direct Thermal - Uses heat sensitive paper (similar to fax paper). Direct thermal printing lasts 6 - 12 months before fading. If exposed to direct sunlight or chemical vapors, the label can have a much shorter life. Therefore, direct thermal labels are primarily used for short duration applications, such as shipping labels.
*Thermal Transfer - Uses heat to transfer ink from ribbon onto the label for a permanent print. Most thermal transfer printers are also capable of direct thermal printing.

There are three grades of ribbon for use with a thermal transfer printers:

*Wax is the most popular with some smudge resistance, and is suitable for matte and semi-gloss paper labels.
*Wax / Resin is smudge resistant, suitable for semi-gloss paper and some synthetic labels.
*Resin is scratch and chemical resistant, suitable for coated synthetic labels.----

Types of Label Printers

*Desktop label printers are generally designed for light- to medium-duty usage with a roll of stock up to 4" wide. They are quiet and inexpensive.
*Commercial label printers can typically hold a larger roll of stock (up to 8" wide) and are geared for medium-volume printing.

*Industrial label printers are designed for heavy-duty, continuous operation in warehouses, distribution centers and factories.

*Industrial Portable label printers are designed for heavy-duty operation on location. Examples of applications are labeling for electrical installations, construction sites, production floors where there are no computers, ...

*RFID readers are specialized label printers that print and encode at the same time on RFID transponders (tags) enclosed in paper or printable synthetic materials. RFID tags need to have printed information for backwards compatibility with barcode systems, so humans can identify the tag.

*Label printer applicators are designed to automate the labeling process. These systems are common in manufacturing and warehousing facilities that require cases and pallets to be labeled for shipping.

*Label software is usually PC-based and designed to create and/or format labels for printing. The software can use Windows drivers or direct drivers embedded in the software. Windows drivers are usually faster and offer better printing control/results.

*Personal Label Printers are usually small desktop, hand held or PC/Mac linked and ideal for small businesses or use at the office or home. Most use a self contained cartridge housing the label material and print ribbon. The cost of the printers is generally very low, making them popular with low volume users.


See also

*Barcode Printers
*Label printer application

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