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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.