Epson Article


How to choose the right label printer for your business?

20 Nov,2018

As with almost all printing solutions, finding the best label printer for your business will depend entirely on what you want to use it for. Let's look at what your business needs may be and which printer type would work best for you.

What are your business needs?

Determining what you need from a label printer is an essential first step to correctly matching your technology to the task. Under or over estimating your labelling needs can result in you purchasing a printer that is unable to meet your demands or drains your resources. Before deciding upon a label printer first consider:

  • Is label printing a temporary or ongoing requirement?
  • How often will your business be printing labels?
  • How many labels will be needed at once?
  • How important is speed to your label requirements?
  • How important is quality?
  • What size do your labels need to be?
  • Do you need a portable printing device for your business?

Understanding your exact requirements along with any budget limitations will help you to differentiate effectively between label printer models.

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Planning exactly how you will be using your label printer will help you to make the best choice.

Inkjet vs thermal

Before we explore printer types let's look at the two distinct classes of label printing mechanism which you can choose from.

1. Thermal printing technology

This class of printer use the controlled application of heat to create a permanent image. There are two main types of thermal printing:

  1. Direct thermal printing: Where a chemically treated material becomes darker when heat is applied to it via a thermal print head. It requires no ink or ribbons, but can only create black and white images that can fade over time. For these reasons it's popular for barcode printing.
  2. Thermal transfer printing: Where heat is applied to a resin or wax based printer ribbon via a thermal print head. This causes melting of the ribbon's surface and the wax or resin is then applied to the label to form the desired design. Coloured ribbons can be used to print in colour.

Thermal printing is the traditional technology behind label printing and is considered a cost-effective method.

2. Inkjet printing technology

As with thermal printing there are two types of inkjet printing technology, thermal and piezoelectric. However we're only going to look at the more sophisticated piezoelectric method, as it's both faster and more accurate.

In a piezoelectric label printer, each ink droplet is pushed out of the print head nozzles by a special plate which is powered by an electric current. These droplets of ink are precisely fired onto the label's surface at an incredibly fast rate (40,000 droplets are produced each second) to produce a photo quality image.

Piezoelectric label printers are fast, efficient and cheap to operate. The fine precision of their ink droplets create high quality coloured labels. Their absence of heat method also means that a wider range of inks can be used with the technology, including heat-sensitive inks, and the printers last longer.

Types of label printer

There are many different types of label printer, each designed to fulfill a different set of expectations and business tasks. Here's a look into the broad categories and what they are best suited for:

Handheld or desktop label printers

Compact electronic label makers are a speedy and easily portable solution to most office and warehouse labelling needs. Don't be fooled by their compact size, these powerful label printers can handle heavy-duty operation and for demanding industrial environments you can even find models able to withstand the elements and the occasional drop.

Handheld or desktop label printers are most suitable for creating:

  • Filing and administration labels for office environments.
  • Product logging and printing security labels for IT asset management.
  • Creating durable labels for use in communications, audio/visual maintenance and cabling.
  • Warehousing and logistics labelling such as barcodes,shipping labels, shelf labels and postage labels.
  • Health care labelling for samples, medication, wristbands, warning signs, work clothing and more.
  • Ticket printing for leisure activities.

Commercial colour label printers

Commercial colour label printers are designed for more heavy duty printing requirements such as on factory floors or manufacturing plants. They offer high quality custom label designs in durable prints and allow companies to meet their in house labelling needs without reducing speed and quality. 

Commercial colour label printers are specifically designed for consistent high label demands and are suitable for creating:

  • Product labels including food packaging, health information, chemicals or distribution labels.
  • Necessary manufacturing labels for example faceplates, logos or warning stickers.
  • Specialist and colorful food and beverage packaging labels.
  • Industrial pharmaceutical printing for medications or chemicals.

Industrial scale label printers

For businesses that require wide scale label printing operations, such as label converters or commercial printers, larger and more versatile label presses are available. These can produce standard sized labels, or be specialised for large format printing for billboards, vehicle wrapping or wall posters.

These specialist types of printers are best suited for intensive label production where speed and cost efficiency are important.

If you're looking for the perfect label printer browse our range online today, or find your nearest Genuine Epson supplier

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