How to choose the right media for your barcode printing

A tiny barcode can contain a wealth of information, from product pricing to patient identification. With the efficiency and accuracy of bar codes, the uses continue to grow, as do the media choices. In addition to labels—which come in an array of paper and synthetic materials, with different adhesives for different uses—bar code printers can output to tag and ticket stock, wristbands, polyester, polypropylene, and other synthetic materials. You can use white or colored media, giving you the option to color-code your bar coded items (allowing for enough contrast between the bar code’s bars and the background color so there is sufficient contrast to make the code readable.

You can also buy brand protection media with over and covert security features for authentication, counterfeit deterrence, and secure data code encoding. Media can be coated to resist extreme temperatures, moisture, harsh chemicals, UV exposure, and other hazards.

Environmental conditions and needs will vary from one warehouse to the next, so it’s important to understand what your media will and won’t do so you avoid any mishaps that can lead to costly problems.

Ryzex specializes in bar code printing solutions, from the hardware to the supplies and accessories. We understand the intricacies of choosing the right media, which is why we rely on Genuine Zebra supplies. Because you can’t afford to compromise on quality, we don’t either. Talk to us about conducting a free needs assessment so we can provide you with cost-saving options.

What do you need your bar code label media to do? Are you satisfied with the results? What challenges have you had to face with media in the past? Please post your thoughts, ideas, and solutions here so we can share them with others.

Can I print bar code labels on my laser printer?

When you have a laser printer sitting right there in your warehouse, it seems the logical choice to use it to print bar code labels as well. Why invest in a bar code printer when you have a perfectly good laser printer? The answer is in the technology. A laser printer does not have the native support for bar code symbologies in order to output clear, readable bar codes. You would have to upgrade your laser printer with additional fonts and/or programming that supports bar coding. Laser printers also lack many of the key features that a dedicated bar code printer provides:

  • Laser printers cannot produce single or small labels. A minimum of half a page of media is typically required for the printer to maintain control of the sheet. Unless the label is at least that size or multiple labels are needed at once, the remainder is wasted.
  • Laser printer label adhesives must be carefully selected to ensure stability under the heat and pressure of the fuser. Otherwise, the adhesive may seep onto the printer mechanism, where it will capture stray toner, or the adhesive may cause the labels to curl at the edges.
  • Because of the pressures used in the image transfer process, many laminated label materials are not compatible with laser printing. Those materials that are compatible may not always be available in the sheet form necessary for laser printing.
  • A laser-printed paper label has limited durability. For example, laser printers cannot produce chemical- or water-resistant labels and images.
  • Toner, drum, and supply costs can skyrocket when printing bar codes instead of typical text. While text printing requires only about five percent black toner, bar code needs can exceed 30 percent to ensure proper contrast between dark and light elements. Toner costs alone could be six times higher when printing bar codes rather than text.

You can squeeze 8 people into a compact car but that doesn’t make it a minivan. And a laser printer can print bar codes but it’s not the right vehicle for the job. Talk to us at Ryzex to learn more about the benefits of a dedicated bar code printer, like the wide variety designed and engineered by Zebra, the global leader in bar code printing solutions.

Have you ever used your laser printer to output bar codes? What was the result? Please share your experiences so others can benefit from your knowledge.

How to choose the right bar code printer for your warehouse

Are you trying to decide on a bar code printer for your warehouse operation? Before you invest in new technology, consider your needs:

  • How many labels do you print per duty cycle? Be sure to choose a printer with the speed and output potential to match your needs. If you require a high volume of labels, faster output should be a consideration.
  • Do you operate 24/7? When a printer is running around the clock, it needs to be durable. Be sure your printer can keep up with the workload.
  • Do you need to print labels on demand? Having a mobile printer is valuable in many warehouse operations because it increases productivity when workers don’t have to return to a print station for batches.
  • How large of a footprint do you have for your printer? Space can be an issue. Bar code printers can be compact enough to fit on a desktop.
  • In what type of environment will your printer be running? Some bar code printers are more rugged than others. Before you buy your printer, be sure that it can stand up to the challenges in your warehouse.

These are the basic questions you should ask yourself when considering a bar code printer. At Ryzex, we specialize in the technology solutions for the warehousing industry, and we’ve teamed up with Zebra, the most innovative provider of bar code printers and supplies. Does your printer keep up with your needs? Let us know your challenges and we will help you find the printer that best fits your operation.

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