Barcode Printing

Desktop barcode label printer
Industrial barcode label printer

Printer types

There are two types of barcode printer – Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer. Direct Thermal works with coated heat reactive paper and Thermal transfer works with ordinary labels and a ribbon. The printers come in several widths -50cm, 100cm, 150cm and depending on how much information you want to have on the label you chooses the size of printer. For most purposes you are safe with a 100mm printer for all our applications. The width of the printer printhead defines the maximum width of your label. So if you need a 4″ x 6″ label – 100mm x 150mm you choose a 100mm printer. The length of label you can print (in this case 150mm) is not so important as most printers will print at least 200mm long labels. For light applications of up to a few hundred labels per day you will only need a desktop printer as illustrated above. If you have a label intensive requirement then you need an industrial model.


This is big enough to have several information fields on the label as well as the barcode. For example the product description, default location (for Storeroom), recipient location (for mailroom). For asset tracking a much smaller label is adequate, say 50 x25 or smaller as you may not have much space on some items and the label needs to be small. You can get at leat 8 digits of barcode on a 50x25mm label and with around 10000 assets you only need 4 digits to 9999 so the label can be even smaller.


Preprinted labels say 75 x 50mm are around £25 per 1000. The blank labels are much cheaper – at least half the price. Barcode label printers range in price from £100 for a small desktop to £2000 for an industrial one related to the size and volume of labels to be printed. For most of our applications you need only spend about £400 on a printer. The advantage of having a printer is that you can reprint and replace damaged barcodes quickly. Our resellers can help you choose but its an idea to first think about what you are going to use it for. Normally to just print a barcode a desktop printer is sufficient. For very low volumes you can use a Dymo Labelwriter , or for medium and higher volumes there are several brands to choose from. For example Zebra, Cab, Honeywell, Epson, TSC all around £400.

Here are a few guideline questions to consider in no particular order of importance.

  • Label size: What information do I need on the label and how large should the label be?
  • Printer type: What volume of labels do I need to print each day?
  • Print or preprinted : Can I make do with preprinted barcodes . Will I need to reprint the same barcode?