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Printer Technology Guide


Desktop models are smaller than their industrial counterparts, provide lower performance and generally have a maximum printing width of four inches.

Despite their small size some Desktop Printers offer a remarkable range of facilitities including rewinding the backing paper and dispensing partly peeled individual printed labels.

Desktop Barcode Label Printers offer outstanding value for small label print volume applications.

To reduce the cost even further, some Desktop Printers are available in Direct Thermal (DT) models which only work with heat sensitive Direct Thermal labels.

Thermal Transfer (TT) models work with normal label materials but require ribbons. These printers can usually be used in both modes. Because of their small overall size Desktop Printers can only handle short rolls of both labels and ribbons, and these are wound on small cores.

Desktop Barcode Label Printers are available with 200 and 300dpi resolution. The latter resolution is important for printing EAN13 retail barcodes at the correct size.

Connection is available by parallel, serial or USB, depending on model. Desktop Printers come with Windows Drivers and a free of charge Windows based entry level labelling software which allows simple labels to be printed with text, barcodes and graphics. For more sophisticated labelling a range a range of Windows based software packages are available.

For non-Windows environments commands can be sent to the printer using the Printer's own language. Desktop printers have built-in facilities to print and position text, barcodes and graphics.


Industrial Barcode Label Printers are geared to heavy duty label printing applications. Some of the top of the line models are designed to print continuously at high speed.

Industrial printers are larger than their desktop counterparts and use full size rolls of both labels and ribbons which avoid frequent media changes.

Although most Industrial Barcode Label Printers are capable of printing on both Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer labels, some manufacturers offer Direct Thermal only models.

Printers are available in print widths of two, four and six inches, and offer 200 and 300dpi resolution.

Because they cater for a huge range of applications most Industrial Barcode Label Printers are configurable and expandable. They come with a range of options, some factory fitted and some field installable.

Facilities may be available for dispensing partly peeled printed labels on demand, and rewinding. The feeding of heavy rolls of labels may be assisted by motorised unwinders.

Depending on the printer model the connection method may be a combination of parallel, serial, USB, Industrial I/O, Ethernet and WiFi.

Industrial Printers come with Windows Drivers, and free of charge Windows based entry level labelling software which allows simple labels to be printed with text, barcodes and graphics. For more sophisticated applications most Industrial Printers can be used with a choice of Windows based labelling packages.

For connection to mainframes and other non-Windows based equipment the printers own language can be used print labels with scalable text, barcodes and graphics.

Some manufacturers offer multiple printer languages and even provide emulations of the languages used by their competitors.

Finally some Industrial Printers are programmable and use specialist accessories. They can accept input from external devices such as weighing scales and can be used to control automated processes.


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Updated 2021-01-11 at 19:28:40.

Errors and Omissions Excepted.