A barcode printer is a computer peripheral for printing barcode labels or tags that can be attached to, or printed directly on, physical objects. Barcode printers are commonly used to label cartons before shipment, or to label retail items with UPCs or EANs.
The most common barcode printers employ one of two different printing technologies. Direct thermal printers use a printhead to generate heat that causes a chemical reaction in specially designed paper that turns the paper black. Thermal transfer printers also use heat, but instead of reacting the paper, the heat melts a waxy or resin substance on a ribbon that runs over the label or tag material. The heat transfers ink from the ribbon to the paper. Direct thermal printers are generally less expensive, but they produce labels that can become illegible if exposed to heat, direct sunlight, or chemical vapors.
Barcode printers are designed for different markets. Industrial barcode printers are used in large warehouses and manufacturing facilities. They have large paper capacities, operate faster and have a longer service life. For retail and office environments, desktop barcode printers are most common.
A barcode printer is a printer designed to produce barcode labels which can be attached to other objects. Barcode printers use either direct thermal or thermal transfer techniques to apply ink to labels. Thermal transfer printers use ink ribbons to apply the barcode directly into the label, while thermal transfer printers use heat to blacken the barcode onto the label.
While both are effective, barcodes produced from direct thermal printers are more likely to become unreadable if exposed to elements such as heat, sunlight, and chemicals, and therefore don’t have the longevity of barcodes made with thermal transfer. Because of the longevity of the barcodes produced thermal transfer printers, as well as their overall printing quality and higher expense of production materials, they tend to be more costly than direct thermal printers. Barcode printers can be used for small business to industrial use, and are most commonly used for shipping products.