There are label/barcode printers for every budget. The most important things you should consider before buying one are:
- Resolution: For thermal and thermal transfer, you can get 200, 300, and even 600 dots per inch.
- Durability: Will you print 5 labels per day or 10,000 per day? It makes a difference.
- Label Size: Small printers can only print small labels. Large printers tend to be more expensive and the printheads are too.
- Connection type to your system: COM, LPT, USB, Network, etc.
- Environmental Conditions: Metal or Plastic cases are available.
- Printing technology: Direct Thermal, Thermal Transfer, dot matrix, etc.
There are two main types of label/barcode printers: Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer.
(DT) printers require no ribbon. Instead, they are used with special heat sensitive paper. When the paper comes into contact with the printhead it turns black, similar to a fax machine. DT labels are sensitive to heat, sunlight and pressure. As such they are only suitable for general-purpose, indoor use.
(TT) printers require a thermal transfer ribbon. They use regular paper or synthetic labels. With this method, the heat from the printhead causes the ribbon's ink to bind to the labels. TT labels are suitable where the labels must withstand sunlight, scratches and even moisture or chemicals.