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FAQs: Barcode Printers

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e. Is print speed important?

Yes, but the print speed listed in the printer specifications (which is expressed as inches per second, or ips) does not always give a true indication of how fast the unit will print. Some printers take a long time to process the label format before they start printing.

First label out refers to the time it takes from when the print command is sent until the first label in a print job comes out of the printer. First label out time depends on the label size and the printer’s processing power, the interface with the computer system, and the software used in the application. These factors may also result in pauses between labels that prevent full-speed, continuous printing.

Throughput is a truer measure of how quickly a printer can process a complete print job. First label out and throughput can be evaluated when printers are set up for demonstrations or trials. It is important to use the printer in your actual work conditions to determine if it has the speed and throughput to meet your needs.

f. What is the difference between Thermal Transfer printers and Direct Thermal Based Printers

There are two thermal printing methods commonly used to print bar codes: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Each method uses a thermal print head that applies heat to the surface being marked. Thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to produce durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials. No ribbon is used in direct thermal printing, which creates the image directly on the label material. Thermal transfer printers can accept a wider variety of materials and are usually used for permanent or long-lasting labeling applications. Direct thermal printers are usually used to produce shipping labels, picking/putaway labels, receipts, and other common print jobs.

Barcodes printed by thermal barcode printers are of better quality as compared with the barcodes that are printed by regular printers. The barcodes printed with dot-matrix printer will be of the poorest quality. In the same way laser printers cannot print clear barcodes without special fonts and add-on applications. On the other hand thermal barcode printer prints a barcode at 203 DPI that can be easily read by any of the barcode scanners.

The data can be transferred from the barcode software to the printer by using a USB or a serial cable as majority of the thermal barcode printers have built-in PC connectivity. Also, these devices have a storage capacity for 128 to 512 KB RAM Memory.

Thermal transfer method is quite similar to the thermal transfer methods used elsewhere in printing. It transfers the barcode symbols onto different print surfaces that can be anything from Avery labels, papers, sheets, acetate sheets, aluminum barcode labels etc. Industrial thermal printers have dual functionality and can be used for both types of printing.

g. How can I hook up a bar code printer to my computer system?

Bar code printers are available with many common interfaces to facilitate simple integration with a variety of host computer systems. Ethernet, USB, parallel, serial, twinax, and coax cables are available. Bar code printers also offer 802.11b and Bluetooth connectivity for wireless integration. Management tools enable remote monitoring, configuration, and troubleshooting for networked printers.

Some printers offer many advanced connectivity features. These include embedded XML processors that enable printers to decode and process incoming XML data streams, interfaces for direct connectivity to SAP and Oracle enterprise resource planning systems, solutions for the IBM midrange (AS/400 and iSeries) environment and more.

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