Questions to Ask Yourself When Buying a Label Printer

You’re in the market to buy a label printer to print barcodes, serial numbers, product labels, or more so you hop on Amazon or Google but see hundreds of different printers that varies from $300 to $1000. What’s the deal?!

Label printers can cost as low as $300 and skyrocket to over $3000 depending on the bells and whistle so learning exactly what you need is important to make an informed decision. When you’re shopping for anything, you need to understand the key features, brands, and the type of support available.

What brand of printers should I get?

Zebra? Sato? TSC? The short answer is: it depends.

Like any other product, printer brands vary in many different ways. If ‘Company A’ specializes in durable t-shirts and ‘Company B’ specializes in affordable t-shirts, which would would you rather buy? It depends. Do you need affordable shirts to give-away at an event? Or a durable shirt to take to the gym?

When it comes to purchasing a label printer — it depends on what you need. No one brand will satisfy everybody’s’ needs.

Direct Thermal or Thermal Transfer?

The technology behind label printers isn’t like a standard home or office printer, which would use ink or toner. Label printers use direct thermal or thermal transfer and deciding which one to go with could drastically change the cost.

 Direct ThermalThermal Transfer
DescriptionA direct thermal printer directly heats a label to print barcodes and text.A thermal transfer printer heats a wax/resin material, called a ribbon, and transfers the wax/resin onto thermal transfer labels to print barcodes and text.
Required Supplies
• Direct Thermal Printer
• Direct Thermal Labels
• Label Printing Software

• Thermal Transfer Printer (can also print direct thermal)
• Thermal Transfer Labels
• Wax/Resin Ribbons
• Label Printing Software
Life Span1-3 months before direct thermal labels start to fade depending on where it's placed.6-12 months before thermal transfer labels start to fade depending on where it's placed.
Pros• Labels are good for short term projects.
• Less supplies (ribbons) to worry about.
• Printer is easier to maintian due to less parts.
• Information on the labels last longer before fading.
• Printing quality is better due to darker & cleaner lines.
• Can print multiple colors with colored ribbons.
• Can print on multiple materials such as paper, polyester, polypropylene, etc.
Cons• Can only print in black.
• Information on the labels fade if exposed to heat, sunlight, or friction.
• Friction & scratches can easily distort or damage information on the label.
• The printer can wear down faster due to the friction of the labels.
• Higher initial cost.
• Requires additional supplies (ribbons)
Suggested Uses• Shipping Labels
• High Turnover Product Labels
• Product Labels
• Laboratory Labels
• Hopsital Labels
• High/Low Temperature Labels

Will it fit my labels?

Most printers will fit labels up to 4 inches wide but if you have larger labels, a wider printer will be necessary.

Additionally, if you plan to print labels 2 inches or smaller, there are smaller label printer options that will reduce your spending.

Can print up to 2″ wide.

Can print up to 4″ wide.

Can print up to 9.5″ wide.

What connections does it have?

When searching for a printer, always confirm it has all the necessary connections and ports you need for your system. For example, some standard printer models will have ethernet options while some others will not.

What am I printing?

Printer resolution is something to consider depending on the type of information you plan to print on a label.

If you’re only printing basic text and barcodes, a printer with 203 DPI (dots per inch) will work perfectly for you.

For printing dense barcodes, small text, or detailed logos, a printer with 300 to 600 DPI will be necessary.

How am I printing?

When you buy a label printer, you will need the right software to make the best use of your label printer. You won’t be able to print using Microsoft Word or any other document writing program — you specifically need a label printing program to allow you to print barcodes, print from a database, serialize numbers, and much more.

Additionally, some label printers will come with FREE printing software to get you started right away.

How much am I printing?

If you plan to print a large volume, say 1000+ labels a day, then certain printers are better for large volume printing than others. For example, some printers can print thousands of labels in less than 5 minutes while some may take 10 minutes or longer.

For small volume printing, inexpensive label printer options are the better bet.

What is the support like?

If your encounter problems with your printer, do you know what you’re covered for?

You shouldn’t have to pull your hair out anytime you attempt to get support which is why we’ve made it easy for our customers. With All Barcode Systems,  we provide support before and after you receive your printer. We’ll assist setting it up, troubleshoot any technical difficulties, and reach out to specialized technicians to find you an answer.

Where do I begin?

You can start by looking at our label printer catalog here or contact us and we’ll answer any questions you may have.