When you run a business that ships or stocks merchandise (like most businesses), you need a way to track inventory. One of the best ways to do this is to use barcodes. But, how do those codes get on the items? Answer: barcode printer. Here’s how to choose a printer and how to use it.

Determine Your Printing Load

How much you print every month will determine the type of printer you need.

High volume printers cost significantly more than low volume ones.

If you have a heavy print volume, but you only do labels about once per year, you may only need a printer capable of printing 100 labels a day.

For a medium sized business, you might need a printer that can handle 500 tags a day.

Really, your volume determines what you need in a printer.

Understand How You Will Use Your Prints

Barcode printers can be used for printing all manner of tags, but you must know whether they will be used to track items with flat packaging or whether you need more durable tags for odd shaped items. In some business settings, the thing being tracked isn’t a product at all.

In hospitals, for example, barcode printers are used on patient sheets to track medications and even patients themselves.

In schools, they’re used to track books and papers. They can be used in military to track supplies. Knowing what you’ll be using your labels for will determine what type of printer you need.

Have Tracking Software

barcode (PD)Tracking software is related to your barcode printer, even if it’s a somewhat separate consideration. You must make sure that your barcode printer can print off labels that are compatible with your inventory tracking system.

For example, this asset tracking software is commonly used in the IT industry to track IT assets. And, while it may be compatible with a wide range of barcode scanners and labels, some types of labels require specialized hardware to read. Make sure you’re not locking yourself into proprietary hardware with your label and that you can integrate your barcode system into your existing infrastructure without a lot of hassle.

What Print Method Do You Want To Use?

There are generally three types of print methods you can use. First, there’s the ink jet printing method. This method uses ink. Then there’s direct thermal and thermal transfer.

While many businesses are familiar with ink printers, these are not always the best option. They can bleed on some printing media and cause problems for bar code readers.

Direct thermal printers apply heat directly to the printing barcode label. The label is UV sensitive, and the “printing” is accomplished using a “heat signature.” These labels are also not very durable, but they don’t use any ink.

Thermal transfer printers also use heat, but unlike their direct heat counterparts, the heat is transferred over a wax-coated ribbon. When the wax is heated, it melts onto the paper and produces a clear and highly durable code.

Choose Your Connectivity Options

The most reliable printers on the market connect via a simple cable. But, some of the newer wi-fi options also offer a simplified connection option. Regardless of what you choose, make sure the connectivity integrates with your computer system and is uncomplicated.


Ah yes, price. Everyone is concerned about what they pay for their printer. But, you shouldn’t make your decision on price alone. Taking into account all of the other factors, you should keep in mind that, all other things being equal, the more you spend on a barcode scanner, the better the quality.

By Jack Williams

Jack has helped his wife manage an online shop for a few years. An avid blogger, he likes to write about what has worked for them whenever he gets the time. Look for his posts on various small business websites and blogs.

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