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What are the features that make for the best barcode printer? Clear and accurate printing is the top thing you should look for in your next barcode printer. This way, you won’t have to worry about your barcode or QR code not scanning properly.
A close second is the barcode printer’s printing speed. If you’re purchasing a dedicated barcode printer, you likely need to print a lot of labels in a short amount of time. With a top-performing printer, you can easily accomplish this.
Finally, consider the barcode printer type you want to purchase. The choice between traditional printers, direct thermal printers, and thermal transfer printers is an important one. Keep reading to learn more about the best barcode printers and how you can choose the right one for your needs.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This printing system works with media from various brands, offering wide-ranging use. It generates up to 238 labels per minute, making it a good choice for bulk printing jobs.
The Rollo X1038 barcode printer is a multifunction model, which is compatible with a variety of Thermal Direct labels and it’s suitable for processing free UPS labels. With a printing speed of 150mm/sec, this device generates one shipping label per second, making it a good choice for bulk printing jobs. It uses Advanced Thermal Direct, printing labels without the need for ink or toner. However, this model doesn’t have wireless tech.
Featuring a versatile design, this system generates labels ranging in width from 1.57” through 4.1” and it has no height limits. This printer is especially suited for printing 4” x 6” labels. It can also be used for warehouse labels, IDs, barcodes, and labels for bulk mailing operations. This barcode printer has a rugged design that will stand up to daily use. It works with various thermal label paper, so users are not tied down to printer-specific labels.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model connects wirelessly and has a companion mobile app that allows users to access templates, edit, and customize printing jobs. This model is extremely compact for easy transportation.
Featuring a compact design, the Phomemo M110 barcode printer is suitable for frequent transportation. It prints labels ranging in width from 20 mm through 48 mm. However, this model is not recommended for shipping labels. With a thermal printing system, this barcode printer doesn’t require ink. An adjustable paper holder lets users customize the printer to prevent distorted prints. However, this model doesn’t support wide media and consequently, it’s not suitable for most printing labels.
This printer has built-in Bluetooth tech for connecting to various devices. It supports editing via the Print Master mobile app and features various templates, providing inspiration. This device connects fast via Bluetooth, taking just 2 seconds to sync. It has OCR character recognition features for converting photo files into editable text. With a simplistic design and one-touch controls, this printer is user friendly. A high-quality paper holder helps prevent frustrating paper jams.
Award: BEST RESOLUTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Printing labels as wide as 4 inches, this device is suitable for a variety of applications, including shipping, warehouse, and tags. It has crisp resolutions of up to 300 dpi.
Designed for 4” x 6” labels, the Dymo LabelWriter 4XL barcode printer is suitable for a wide variety of labels, including pieces for warehouses, barcodes, and bulk mailing. We like this printer’s cube-like design with a sleek finish, which will add visual interest to any desk. It comes with Dymo Connect Software, allowing hassle-free setup on computers. The printer boasts 60 professional label templates to give users inspiration for their labels. However, this model doesn’t have an on/off switch.
With resolutions of up to 300 dip, this printer produces sharp text and graphics and it’s suitable for printing jobs that feature logos. It prints up to 53 standard four-line address labels of 129 high-capacity four-line labels in one minute. The device comes with a label holder, so it doesn’t need to attach external holders. It uses Dymo FSC LabelWriter paper to produce crisp labels, and it supports a wide variety of sizes.
Award: BEST FOR SHIPPING LABELS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Featuring printing rates of up to 150 mm/ sec, this device is ideal for bulk jobs. It supports a wide variety of media sizes, so it’s suitable for shipping, bulk mail, and supermarket labels.
This Comer RE418 barcode printer has a retro design that brings vintage vibes to the desk. This device boasts printing speeds of up to 150 mm/sec, processing bulk jobs fast. With a high 203 dpi resolution, this printing system produces labels with crisp text and graphics. It works with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers via a USB port, offering easy connectivity, although it’s not compatible with iOS or Android mobile devices.
This device uses direct thermal technology, so it doesn’t use expensive and messy toner or ink cartridges. Supporting labels ranging in width from 1.18 to 4 inches and having no height limits, this printer can be used in a wide variety of applications. It has a rugged design that supports over 10 hours of uninterrupted printing. This printer is quite compact, saving space on the desk, and it has a unique vintage appearance. It has a rugged design that’s suitable for bulk warehouse jobs.
Award: BEST APPEARANCE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This compact printer uses an advanced printing system that doesn’t require ink or toner. It performs fairly fast, generating up to 72 prints per second.
Thanks to thermal printing tech, this Ponek 246S barcode printer has a maintenance free design that doesn’t require toner or ink refills. It supports labels ranging in width from 2 inches to 4 inches. This printing system is compatible with both fold and roll type labels, giving users flexibility. The thermal printing system is suitable for a wide variety of applications, including shipping labels, supermarket barcode labels, and warehouse labels. However, this device doesn’t support wireless connectivity.
This printing system is compatible with a wide variety of computers, including Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. It comes with label editing software, simplifying operation and it has a high printing speed, managing to produce up to 72 labels per minute. With resolutions of up to 203 dpi, this printer is ideal for labels with intricate graphics and it produces sharp text that’s legible. It uses a one-click installation process that offers convenience.
Award: BEST CONNECTIVITY OPTIONS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This printing system has fast processing, printing at speeds of 6 inches per second. It has a variety of ports, including USB, serial, and 10/100 RJ-45 Ethernet.
The Zebra GX420D barcode printer uses thermal technology, generating labels without the need for ink or toner. This printer is fast, featuring a processing speed of up to 6 inches per second. In addition to a 6-foot USB cable for connecting to computers, this printer features an Ethernet port that connects to wired networks. It also has a serial port for plugging into older computers. However, this printer has a bland design.
With a resolution of 203 x 203 DPI, this printing system is ideal for generating documents with crisp details. It has a small footprint suitable for small desks. This printing system prints 4-inch labels and is ideal for a number of applications, including warehouse, e-commerce, and bulk mailing. Featuring 8MB of internal memory, this device saves printing jobs. It has simple controls for hassle-free operation. A media sensor detects the size of the labels, adjusting the settings automatically.
Simply put, barcode printers are dedicated printers specifically for labels with barcodes on them. These labels are then meant to be attached to other objects, like items within a store. Barcode label printers are commonly found in retail environments. If you are into technical drawings and large format graphics work, the 11×17 printer is the best printer if you want quality printouts.
Barcode printers offer dependable performance, especially when printing a QR code or barcode label. The top barcode printers also tend to use different printing technology, which we’ll talk more about further along in this guide.
Barcode printers do essentially the same thing as traditional printers in the sense that they both put graphics or text on paper. However, the way this happens is fundamentally different in barcode printers when compared to a traditional printer. A good example of a traditional printer that does not print in color is the black and white printer.
Instead of depositing ink or fusing toner into the paper, barcode printers use thermal paper to create the barcodes. These types of printers can use either direct thermal printing or thermal-transfer printing, which we explain more in-depth further along in this guide.
While you can use traditional inkjet printers or laser printers for the printing of barcode labels, we wouldn’t recommend it. Due to their nature, barcode labels are handled often and ink on label paper will easily smear or wear out after prolonged handling.
There are two main types of barcode printers, and they both operate differently. Let’s dig into the two types of barcode label printers and how they operate:
We recommend using either a direct thermal or thermal transfer printer for creating barcode labels. However, if you choose to use a traditional inkjet or laser printer, it’s helpful to know how those types of printers work as well:
If you own a small business, warehouse, or different kind of customer-facing establishment, then you would likely find a barcode printer to be incredibly valuable. In short, if you have any need for printing and using labels with a QR code, whether for business or personal use, then you need a barcode printer.
According to leading consulting firm InfoTrends, most printers should last for three to four years before needing to be replaced. However, this lifespan can vary greatly for barcode label printers. There are fewer moving parts in a barcode printer, so really what you need to worry about is the printhead.
The longevity of a thermal printhead in a barcode printer is measured in millions of linear inches printed. As such, you can expect your printer’s lifespan to decrease the more you print. Even more so if you print a lot of labels in a short amount of time. Fortunately, printheads can be replaced and serviced.
Various additional factors can impact the life of your barcode printer. For starters, if you use your barcode printer in a dusty and dirty environment, you are more likely to get debris lodged in the printhead. This can significantly decrease your printer’s lifespan.
In general, it’s best to store and use your barcode printer in a clean, dry environment. It’s also a good idea to clean your printer’s printhead regularly to prolong its overall lifespan.
When you take some dedicated time to learn about barcode label printers, their features, and the top considerations to make when researching them, you’ll end up better equipped to choose the best option for you. Read through the following sections to learn what to look for.
Ask yourself these questions to determine what kind of barcode printer is the best for your label-printing needs:
The first point of order you need to sort out when researching the top barcode printers is direct thermal vs. thermal transfer. We went over each printer type earlier in this guide, but it’s helpful to take a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of each here:
Pros and Cons of Direct Thermal Label Printers
Pros and Cons of Thermal Transfer Label Printers
As a general rule of thumb, direct thermal label printers are best for short-term applications like retail environments while thermal transfer printers are best for long-term applications like warehouses or labels that are going to be outdoors.
You know the exact application of your barcode printer, and it may warrant a special printer type. There are a few unique types of barcode printers that are industry-specific. Take a look at these types to see if you’ll need one for your specific use case:
Barcode label printers need to stay connected to a computer to print anything. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a physical connection. Consider your barcode printing habits to determine what kind of connectivity you need your printer to have.
If you need mobile printing, then we recommend purchasing one of the mobile barcode label printers with wireless connectivity. On the flip side, if you’re printing at your desk, then a printer with USB connectivity makes for an excellent desktop barcode printer. In general, a good desktop barcode printer also offers fast print speed.
There are also barcode printers that use Bluetooth connectivity. This way, you can print labels from a smartphone or tablet. Fortunately, these mobile printers often also include a USB port for physical connection.
Next, consider how much printing you need to do. Different barcode label printers offer different levels of print volume capabilities. In general, you can categorize different levels into low, medium, and high volume categories.
You may also want to consider print speed in conjunction with print volume. Print speed refers to the speed with which your printer can produce labels. High-volume industrial printers usually offer the highest print speed.
The best barcode label printers offer a wide range of compatibility with different label types. However, you should still consider the exact type of labels you need for your barcodes so you can purchase a compatible printer.
When looking at each different label type, consider things like resistance to chemicals, light, heat, and abrasion. You may also want to consider purchasing label templates or smart labels for added ease of printing.