Select a category to narrow down questions. If you can’t find a question here, please contact us and ask!

How do I order?

You have to contact us directly.

What does ‘Retail Pricing’ mean?

Retail Price is the manufacturer’s SUGGESTED pricing and unfortunately we’re unable to list our actual pricing due to restrictions. Fortunately, thanks to our partnerships we’re able to offer products to you at the lowest price possible when you contact us. Hooray!

Where can I find pricing?

The only way to receive a firm price is by contacting us.

By contacting us, we can offer better pricing for you because:

  1. We will work with you to choose the best products for your needs. If you need ‘Product B’, we’ll let you know about ‘Product A’ so you’ll be able to view all your options.
  2. We can give certain businesses and districts special discounts, just ask.
  3. If you plan to purchase multiple products, we could offer you a bundle price.
  4. Some products have various versions and settings so the prices varies because of that.

Are you an office or retail store?

We are an office but we do welcome guests to come in and sit down with us to discuss their needs regarding scanners, printers, labels, software, systems, and much more. We do NOT carry stock for all our products at our office but we do carry some stock on certain products so if we have what you need here, it’ll be yours! If you do plan to drop by, please give us a call to make sure we’re available. Thank you!

Where are you located?

Orange County, California. Our address & hours can be found here.

Can someone come to our office/facility to consult us?

Definitely! We have customers request this all the time. We’ll drop on by and work with you to find the best solution to suit your environment. Contact us and we’ll discuss an appointment.

What do some of these product terms mean?

Please view our industry terms here. Contact us if you still need help.

What is your payment policy?

Please see this page.

What is your return policy?

Please see this page.

What is a Barcode?

Barcode technology has been helping businesses minimize data entry errors, speed processes, and reduce costs for over thirty years. The fact is, barcode systems work. Yes, some are configured better than others, some are easier to use, but even the most unusual application has reaped substantial return on investment in a reasonably short time frame.

This document is designed to introduce this very effective technology to potential new users. Written in non-technical language, it covers the components of a barcode label, scanning options, and a short glossary of common industry terms.

A barcode is a machine readable code consisting of a series of bars and spaces printed in defined ratios. Barcode symbologies are essentially alphabets in which different widths of bars and spaces are combined to form characters and, ultimately, a message. Because there are many ways to arrange these bars and spaces, numerous symbologies are possible. Common linear symbologies include UPC/EAN, Interleaved 2 of 5 (I of 5), Codebar, Code 39, and Code 128.

While each symbology is in some way unique, the composition of a complete message (barcode) is surprisingly similar regardless of the symbology used. For example, all barcodes are based on some “X” dimension. The “X” dimension is the narrowest bar or space in the barcode. Designated in “mils” (thousandths of an inch), symbology standards usually specify a minimum value “X” to insure compatibility between reading and printing equipment used in open systems.

The “X” dimension determines a barcode’s density. Density refers to the amount of information that can be captured in the barcode in a particular space, usually a linear inch. While not intuitively obvious, high density barcodes have low numbers (e.g., 5 mil) and low density barcodes have high numbers (e.g., 55 mil). This is because individual characters consist of some combination of bars and spaces that are each multiples of “X”. When “X” is small, the area required for each character is less than when “X” is large; thus the barcode can hold more per linear inch and is said to be of higher density. Similarly, increasing the width of the narrowest element (“X”) increases the space required for each character and reduces the number of characters per inch. Because the resulting code is often quite large, very low density codes are often associated with applications such as warehousing that require reading barcodes from a significant distance (3 to 30 feet).

What is a Barcode - Characters

All barcodes have start/stop characters that allow the barcode to be read from both left to right and right to left. Unique characters placed at both the beginning and end of each barcode, the stop/start characters provide timing references, symbology identification, and direction of read information to the scanner. By convention, the unique character on the left of the barcode is considered the “start” and the character on the right of the barcode is considered the “stop.”

Immediately preceding the start character and following the stop character is an area of no markings called the quiet zone. Because there is no printing in this area, a scanning signal is not produced, thus the term “quiet.” The quiet zone helps the scanner find the leading edge of the barcode so reading can begin. As a rule, the quiet zone should be ten times the “X” dimension or 1/4?, whichever is greater.

Putting all these components together, we get a complete barcode such as the one found below. Notice the leading quiet zone followed by a start character, data, a stop character, and a final quiet zone.

What is a Barcode Structure

How can I get a barcode? / What is a UPC code?

UPCe

In order for your company to print U.P.C. (Universal Product Code) barcodes, your company will need to become a member of the GS1 US (formerly Uniform Code Council). When you become a member, your company will be assigned an identification number for your company’s use (company prefix). You will need this number to create your own U.P.C.s.

You can visit the GS1 website here to get a UPC code.

Why use Barcodes?

The use of barcode technology in an industrial setting can be traced  back as far as the 1960s, with some early implementations to identify  railroad cars. Common barcodes began appearing on grocery store shelves  in the early 1970s as the UPC code to automate the process of identifying  grocery items. Today, barcodes are just about everywhere and are used  for identification in almost all areas of business. When barcodes are  implemented in business processes, procedures can be automated to reduce  human error and increase productivity. Barcoding should be considered  whenever there is a need to accurately identify or track something.

Should I use Barcodes or RFID?

Barcoding is a mature technology that has been around for many years,  unlike RFID, which is still in its infancy. Additionally, the components  used to read and write barcodes have decreased in cost because of this  maturity and sales volume. There are many additional issues to consider  with RFID. However,  overall, RFID has many advantages over barcoding. In some cases, these  advantages outweigh the disadvantages and high cost of the components.  Decision makers must carefully consider whether RFID really provides  an advantage over barcoding in their business model.

What type of Barcodes are there?

SymbologyDescriptionBarcode TypesExample of Barcode
Code 39 The Code 39 barcode is the easiest to use of alpha-numeric barcodes and is designed for character self-checking, thus eliminating the requirement for check character calculations.HIBC LIC
LOGMARS
MIL-STD-1189B
MIL-STD-129
MIL-STD-2073-1C
MIL-STD-129N
Code 39 Barcode Image
Extended Code 39The full 128 character ASCII character set can be printed (in accordance with ISO 646) with the Extended Code 39 barcode.Extended Code 39 Barcode Image
Code 128Character set A allows for uppercase characters, punctuation, numbers and several special functions such as a return or tab.CANADA POST
USPS
ISBT 128
USS Code 128
ISS Code 128
Code 128 Character Set A Barcode Image
Character set B allows for upper and lower case letters, punctuation, numbers and a few select functions.Code 128 Character Set B Barcode Image
UCC/EAN-128Character set C encodes only numbers and the FNC1 function (indicated in blue). Because the numbers are “interleaved” into pairs, two numbers are encoded into every barcode character which makes it a very high-density barcode.UCC 128
EAN 128
SSCC-18
SCC-14
GTIN (EAN14)
UCC/EAN 128 Barcode Image
UPCaThe Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode is used in the retail industry. UPC-A consists of 12 numbers.UPC
UCC12
UPCa Barcode Image
UPCeUPC-E consists of 12 numbers that are compressed into 8 numbers for small packages.UPCe Barcode Image
EAN13The European Article Numbering System (EAN) is a superset of U.P.C. EAN-13 consists of 13 numbers.ISBN
ISSN
Bookland
JAN
EAN13 Barcode Image
EAN8The European Article Numbering System (EAN) is a superset of U.P.C. EAN-8 and consists of 8 digits for small packages.EAN8 Barcode Image
Interleaved 2 of 5Interleaved 2 of 5 (ITF) is a numeric-only barcode used for encoding pairs of numbers in a high density barcode format.ITF-14
EAN-14
SCC-14
GTIN
DUN14
USPS
Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcode Image
CodaBarThe symbology of the Codabar character set consists of barcode symbols representing characters 0-9, letters A to D and the following symbols: – . $ / +.Rationalized Codabar
USD-4
NW-7
2 of 7 Code
Codabar Barcode Image
Industrial 2 of 5The symbology of the Industrial Code 2 of 5 character set consists of barcode symbols representing the numbers 0-9, the start character and the stop character.Code 2 of 5Code 25 Barcode Image
Code 11The symbology of the Code 11 character set consists of barcode symbols representing the numbers 0-9, a dash symbol, the start character and the stop character.Code 11 Barcode Image
Code 93The symbology of the Code 93 character set consists of barcode symbols representing characters 0-9, A-Z, the space character and the following symbols: /, + , %, – , . , $ .Code 93 Barcode Image
GS1 DatabarGS1 DataBar is capable of encoding up to 20,000,000,000,000 (20 trillion) values. This symbol is approved for POS use after 1-1-2010.GS1 Databar Barcode Image
DataBar ExpandedGS1 DataBar Expanded is a variable length, expanded version of the DataBar symbology capable of encoding the 14 digit GTIN and additional data.GS1 Databar Expanded Barcode Image
DataBar Expanded StackedGS1 DataBar Expanded Stacked Omni-directional has the exact same data characteristics as GS1 DataBar Expanded, except that it may be stacked to decrease width and increase height.GS1 Databar Expanded Stacked Barcode Image
DataBar Omni-Directional StackedGS1 DataBar Stacked Omni-Directional has the exact same data characteristics as GS1 DataBar. This symbol is approved for POS use after 1-1-2010.GS1 DataBar Omni-Directional Stacked Barcode Image
Databar TruncatedGS1 DataBar Truncated has the exact same data characteristics as the GS1 DataBar barcode, except the bar height is set to the minimum height of 13 times the X dimension.GS1 Databar Truncated Barcode Image
GS1 Databar LimitedGS1 DataBar Limited has the same data characteristics as the GS1 DataBar barcode, except that it may only include values up to 4,000,000,000,000 (4 trillion).GS1 Databar Limited Barcode Image
GS1 Databar Coupon CodeCoupons printed before January 2010 should also include the UPC symbol. After January 2010, the UPC symbol does not need to be printed.GS1 Databar Coupon Code Barcode Image
MSI PlesseyThe MSI Plessey barcode was designed in the 1970s by the Plessey Company in England and has been used primarily in libraries and retail applications.MSI Code
Pulse Width Modulated Barcode
MSI Plessey Barcode Image
POSTNETThe POSTNET (Postal Numeric Encoding Technique) barcode is a special barcode developed by the US Post Office to encode zip code information.Zip
Zip + 4
DPBC
Postnet Barcode Image
PLANETThe U.S. Postal Service uses a special barcode called PLANET to track letter-size mail electronicallyUSPS CONFIRMPlanet Barcode Image
OneCodeNew USPS height-modulated barcode designed for use in high speed, automated, mail sorting machines that allow both Planet and Postnet barcode information to be combined into a single barcode to track mailings, request address-quality service.4-State Customer Barcode
4CB or 4-CB
OneCode Solution Barcode
USPS4CB
MICR E13BThe MICR E13B font is a special font that is used on bank checks and drafts in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Panama, UK, and a few other countries to print MICR characters for magnetic recognition and optical character recognition systems.MICR E13B Image
MICR CMC7The MICR CMC-7 font is a special font that is used on bank checks in Mexico, France, Spain and most Spanish speaking countries.MICR CMC7 Image
OCRa OCRbThe OCR-A and OCR-B character sets contain both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and several special characters. The OCR-A font characters were created from ANSI X3.17-1981 specifications and the OCR-B font characters were created from ANSI X3.49-1982 specifications.OCR-B1 Eurobanking
OCR-A1 Eurobanking
OCR-a and OCR-b Image
PDF417Large amounts of text and data can be stored securely and inexpensively when using the PDF-417 symbology. Using Reed Solomon error correction, the printed PDF417 barcode symbol can withstand damage without causing loss of data.PDF417 Barcode Font Printed with the PDF417 Font and Encoder.
Data MatrixData Matrix is a very area efficient 2D barcode symbology that uses a unique square module perimeter pattern that helps the barcode scanner determine the cell locations. It can encode letters, numbers, text and actual bytes of data; it can encode just about anything including extended characters, unicode characters and photos.
Maxi CodeMaxiCode is a two-dimensional matrix barcode symbology containing hexagon modules in a 1″ square area. MaxiCode is used by the UPS (United Parcel Service) on packing slips for sorting and addressing packages.
AztecAztec is an area efficient 2D barcode symbology that can encode letters, numbers, text and actual bytes of data, including Unicode and extended characters, plus small photos.
QR CodeQR-Code is a very efficient, two-dimensional (2D) barcode symbology that encodes characters, numbers, text and actual bytes of data, including Unicode characters and photos.

What is the most efficient Barcode type?

There are many situations when the space a barcode occupies is a concern; here are several alpha-numeric barcode types for comparison. These barcodes are all encoding the same data of “BARCODE12345678” with the same narrow bar width or X dimension of .03CM or 10 mils. The barcodes will not appear in actual size until they are printed.

Code 39:

Code 128:

PDF417 (mode = TEXT):

Data Matrix (mode = C40):

The Data-Matrix barcode is one of the most efficient

In the examples above, the Data Matrix is the most compact symbology for the area. A barcode imager is required to read Data Matrix. These imagers read Data Matrix symbols printed with a Data Matrix Font at 2.5 points which is an X dimension of about .02CM or 8 mils. Data Matrix is also one of the most accurate symbologies (see below).

In a study at Ohio University, several different barcode symbologies were tested to determine their accuracy and are listed below. Keep in mind that a well-trained data entry operator will usually make a data entry error once every 300 keystrokes. Therefore, implementing the least accurate symbology is a huge step forward to increase production and reduce data entry errors. The most inaccurate symbology (UPC) is used in the retail industry.

Barcode TypeWorst Case AccuracyBest Case Accuracy
Data Matrix1 error in 10.5 million1 error in 612.9 million
PDF4171 error in 10.5 million1 error in 612.4 million
Code 1281 error in 2.8 million1 error in 37 million
Code 391 error in 1.7 million1 error in 4.5 million
UPC1 error in 394 thousand1 error in 800 thousand

To reduce the amount of misreads it is important to test scan the barcodes or to verify the barcode with a Bar Code Verifier.

What is the best Barcode to use?

The type of barcode to use for a particular situation depends upon: (1) the implementation; (2) the data-to-encode in the barcode and (3) how the barcode will be printed. There are several different types of barcode standards for different purposes – these are called symbologies. Each type of symbology (or barcode type) is a standard that defines the printed symbol and how a device such as a barcode scanner reads and decodes the printed symbol.

If an industry standard was established for the chosen barcode then most likely there is not a choice in selecting the barcode symbology. Industry standards are usually established when multiple parties or companies are involved in the process. Note that the standard is not necessarily the same as the barcode symbology. Barcode standards define how to use the barcode symbology in a particular situation. For example, ISBN is a standard for labeling books and periodicals that uses the EAN-13 symbology. Below is a list of a few established barcode standards and what they are used for:

Established Standard:For Identification of:Barcode Symbology:
UPC-A or UPC-Eitems for sale in the USA and CanadaUPC/EAN
EAN-8 or EAN-13items for sale worldwideUPC/EAN
ISBN, ISSN & Booklandbooks and periodicalsEAN-13 with UPC/EAN
UCC-128, EAN-128 or SSCC-18shipping cartonsCode 128
SCC-14shipping cartonsInterleaved 2 of 5
or Code 128
EAN-14shipping cartonsInterleaved 2 of 5
or Code 128
SSCC-18shipping cartonsCode 128
SISACserial numbers for serial publicationsCode 128
SICI Codeserial numbers for serial publicationsCode 128
POSTNETUS mail addresses for the US Post OfficePOSTNET
USPS Special ServicesUS mail return receipts and registered mailInterleaved 2 of 5
or Code 128
MICRbank checksMICR E-13B or CMC-7
LOGMARSUnited States Department of Defense standardCode 39

Before selecting a symbology to use, check to determine if there is an established standard for the industry by contacting the respective industry standard board for the correct symbology choice.

What can I use to scan Barcodes?

One of the most common methods of reading barcodes is with a hand-held barcode scanner. The barcode scanners all have built-in decoders and can read several different bar code types. Most of the barcode scanners receive their power from the PC keyboard or USB port so no external power supply is required. When a barcode is scanned in, the data is sent to the PC as if it had been typed on the keyboard.

Most barcode scanners can read common linear symbologies, such as code 39, UPC, EAN, Code 128 and Codabar, if it is enabled in the scanner. Keep in mind that most scanner manufacturers usually ship new scanners with most symbologies disabled, so make sure the symbology is enabled before attempting to scan. It is possible to scan barcodes that are printed at very small x dimensions (the x dimension is the width of the narrow bar in the code). Before attempting to read barcodes that are printed with small x dimensions, check the barcode scanner manual to make sure the scanner can read it. Also, make sure the printer can accurately reproduce barcodes at these sizes.

As of recent – smart phones with cameras can also scan barcodes using the right application.

There are also laser barcode scanners, but they cannot always read the small x dimensions that the CCD models can. However, laser scanners are able to read wider barcodes better.

What can I use to print a Barcode?

Printing barcodes can be done with a font and printed to any laser or inkjet printer.  You can also purchase Barcode software that will allow you to print barcodes, text and even graphics onto labels.  Keep in mind, however, the label material used for Laser/Inkjet printers is porous and the toner/ink fills the peaks and valleys that are natural to that material.  Toner can flake after exposure to air after a while and barcodes can become unreadable by a scanner.  Also, due to those same peaks/valleys, dust and dirt can accumulate on the label and make the barcode unreadable.  Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal printers are the best.

How can I test my Barcode Scanner?

If it is USB Barcode Scanner, plug the device into a computer/laptop and open a word document program (notepad, wordpad, Word, etc.). Find a barcode and scan it with the Barcode Scanner. Information should appear on your word document program. If you are using a Wireless Barcode Scanner please consult the instructions or contact us for help.

How do you maintain a Barcode Scanner?

Scanner cleaning can use the same cleaning pads as you use for your thermal transfer or direct thermal printer.  Wiping down the housing of the scanner and the plastic scan engine cover will keep dirt and bacteria from building up.

How do I maintain a Printer?

Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal printers need regular maintenance to keep them in working order.  Use of specially formulated printhead cleaning pads is vital to keeping the printed matter sharp.  All labels have dust that can accumulate and cause printing issues.  Using a can of air to blow the dust out and off the printer mechanisms is important and should be used regularly.

Difference between Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer?

There are two thermal printing methods: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Each method uses a thermal printhead that applies heat to the surface being marked. Thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to produce durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials. No ribbon is used in direct thermal printing, which creates the image directly on the printed material. Direct thermal media is more sensitive to light, heat and abrasion, which reduces the life of the printed material.

Direct Thermal : Temporary lasting labels (UPS Shipping labels). No ribbon necessary.

Thermal Transfer : Longer lasting labels. Ribbon necessary.

What are your warranties?

Please see this page.

Do you send out samples?

Yes! Please contact us and we will be glad to send you labels and tags.

Difference between Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer?

There are two thermal printing methods: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Each method uses a thermal printhead that applies heat to the surface being marked. Thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to produce durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials. No ribbon is used in direct thermal printing, which creates the image directly on the printed material. Direct thermal media is more sensitive to light, heat and abrasion, which reduces the life of the printed material.

Direct Thermal : Temporary lasting labels (UPS Shipping labels). No ribbon necessary.

Thermal Transfer : Longer lasting labels. Ribbon necessary.

What are the key factors in choosing a Thermal Transfer Ribbon (TTR)?

There are several things you need to consider:

Ribbon width: the ribbon should extend past the edge of the label material to prevent the printhead being damaged from abrasion by the label material (e.g., a 70mm wide label requires a 80mm wide ribbon)

Ribbon type: the three types are wax, wax/resin and resin:

  • Wax ribbons cost less than the other types and are usually used when long-term durability is not an issue. They are best for printing on coated or uncoated paper tags and labels. Typical uses include shipping labels, pricing labels and other indoor applications.
  • Wax/resin ribbons are more expensive, but the imprint is more resistant to scratching, smearing and mild chemicals. They are best for printing on coated paper, coated tags and films and are suitable for short-term outdoor uses.
  • Resin ribbons are the most expensive, but the imprint is very durable and resistant to most chemicals. They are best for printing on synthetics materials such as polyester and polymide.

Ink configuration: when you buy ribbon you need to specify the brand of printer to ensure that the ribbons are wound in the correct configuration – ink side wound ‘in’ or ink side wound ‘out’.

Printer core diameter: you need to ensure that the ribbon is designed for the inside core diameter of your printer brand, because some cores have special slots that fit in the ribbon feed mechanism.

Roll length: This equates to maximum roll diameter. All printers have a maximum roll diameter.

Should I use Barcodes or RFID?

Barcoding is a mature technology that has been around for many years,  unlike RFID, which is still in its infancy. Additionally, the components  used to read and write barcodes have decreased in cost because of this  maturity and sales volume. There are many additional issues to consider  with RFID. However,  overall, RFID has many advantages over barcoding. In some cases, these  advantages outweigh the disadvantages and high cost of the components.  Decision makers must carefully consider whether RFID really provides  an advantage over barcoding in their business model.

Advantages and Disadvantages of RFID?

Advantages of RFID:

  • Inventory efficiency – Because line-of-sight is not required to read RFID tags, inventory can be performed in a highly efficient method. For example, pallets in a warehouse can be read, inventoried, and their location can be determined no matter where the tag is placed on the pallet. This is because the radio waves from the reader are strong enough for the tag to respond regardless of location.
  • Return on investment (ROI) – Though the cost may be high at first, the total cost of ownership should go down over the years and provide a good ROI, if the implementation provides a significant method to improve business processes.
  • Vulnerability to damage minimized – Barcodes can be damaged in many ways. Although, 2D barcode types can be read even when up to 40% of the barcode is damaged.

Disadvantages of RFID:

  • Dead areas and orientation problems – RFID works similar to the way a cell phone or wireless network does. Like these technologies, there may be certain areas that have weaker signals or interference. In addition, poor read rates are sometimes a problem when the tag is rotated into an orientation that does not align well with the reader. These issues are usually minimized by proper implementation of multiple readers and use of tags with multiple axis antennas.
  • Security concerns – Because RFID is not a line-of-sight technology like barcoding, new security issues could develop. For example, a competitor could set up a high-gain directional antenna to scan tags in trucks going to a warehouse. From the data received, this competitor could determine flow rates of various products. Additionally, when RFID is used for high-security operations such as payment methods, fraud is always a possibility.
  • Ghost tags – In rare cases, if multiple tags are read at the same time the reader will sometimes read a tag that does not exist. Therefore, some type of read verification, such as a CRC, should be implemented in either the tag, the reader or the data read from the tag.
  • Proximity issues – RFID tags cannot be read well when placed on metal or liquid objects or when these objects are between the reader and the tag. Nearly any object that is between the reader and the tag reduces the distance the tag can be read from.
  • High cost – Because this technology is still new, the components and tags are expensive compared to barcodes. In addition, software and support personnel needed to install and operate the RFID reading systems (in a warehouse for example) may be more costly to employ.
  • Unread tags – When reading multiple tags at the same time, it is possible that some tags will not be read and there is no sure method of determining this when the objects are not in sight. This problem does not occur with barcodes, because when the barcode is scanned, it is instantly verified when read by a beep from the scanner and the data can then be entered manually if it does not scan.
  • Vulnerable to damage – Water, static discharge or high-powered magnetic surges (such as lightning strike) may damage the tags.

Advantages of using UHF GEN 2 RFID tags:

UHF GEN 2 tags greatly reduce (if not eliminate) the ghost tag problem, using a mandatory hardware based CRC. The CRC is created when the tag is encoded, and the reader verifies the CRC when the tag is read. If the CRC does not match, the data read is considered invalid. In addition, more tags can be read simultaneously when using GEN2.

How can I read RFID tags?

Hand-Held RFID Readers are convenient for reading and locating RFID tags. Many other products are also available that can read multiple tags for tracking or inventory, but these implementations are too complex to describe here.

Most RFID printers can also read data from a tag. This is accomplished by issuing a read command with the label on the printer’s encoder.

How do I receive software?

Software purchases are digitally distributed. Physical copies incur surcharges.

Is software returnable?

Once purchased, software is non-returnable. We strongly encourage you to contact us to try a demo prior to purchasing any software product to make sure you’re 100% satisfied.