Label printing as the name suggests is the process of printing texts, graphics, and images onto a label paper which is then attached to a commodity for identification, branding, or informative purposes. Nowadays, a wide range of products including food and beverage packing, cosmetic and beauty products, pharmaceuticals, and industrial equipment have labels attached to them.
Did you know that ancient civilisations used natural materials like leaves, bark, and animal skin to create labels for their products?
After the invention of paper around 105 AD in China, the process of printing labels gained popularity. The first printed label was made in Germany in the 1400s, and printing technology has evolved significantly since then.
Nowadays, there are multiple businesses that require label printing including manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and service providers. Manufacturers require labels for product identification and to provide customers with information about the product’s features, ingredients, and usage instructions. Distributors and retailers require labels for inventory identification and for providing pricing information. Service providers on the other hand use labels to identify their tools and equipment.
To print these labels, a robust device known as a label printer or Sticker Printers is used.
In this blog, we have discussed label printers and their role in modern-day businesses in detail.
Let’s start by peeking into the past.
Origin of Label Printers
The origin of label printers can be traced back to the early days of printing technology. In the 15 th century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing technology which revolutionised the way books were printed and with time the device gained wide popularity. In the early 20 th century, label printing was done manually with workers using hand stamps and ink to print information onto labels. In the late 19 th century, R. Stanton Avery invented the first mechanical label printer. His device comprised a rubber stamp that would print information into a label, making the label printing process more efficient and fast compared to manual methods. With technological advancements, electronic label printers were invented in the 1960s. These devices used computer-controlled printing heads that created high-resolution labels that quickly and accurately. Continued technological advancements led to the introduction of thermal printing (including thermal transfer printing and direct thermal printing) that enhanced precision and flexibility in label printing.
Different Types of Label Printers
There are several different types of label printers, each with its own unique features and capabilities. Here are some of the popular ones:
1. Desktop Label Printers:
Designed particularly for small to medium-sized businesses, these label printers online are perfect for printing product labels or barcodes. They are compact, easy-to-use, and offer two printing options such as thermal transfer printing and direct thermal printing.
2. Industrial Label Printers:
These label printers are designed specifically for larger businesses that require handling high-volume printing jobs. These devices can withstand heavy use and are often used for printing packaging labels or inventory labels.
3. Portable Label Printers:
These devices are mostly small and handheld and as the name implies, can be carried on the go. Portable printers are mostly used by service providers like HVAC technicians and electricians to label their tools and equipment.
4. Shipping Label Printers:
These label printers are specialised printers that are designed to print superior-quality shipping labels quickly and efficiently. Used typically in warehouses, distribution centers, and shipping departments to create shipping labels for packages, boxes, and pallets. One of the key benefits of using a shipping label printer is that it can automate the labelling process which saves time and minimises errors.
Label Printing Technologies
Different label printers function on different printing technologies that have their unique advantages and applications. However, the widely preferred label printing technologies include:
1. Thermal Transfer Printing :
This printing technology uses a ribbon that is coated with ink to transfer the desired image or text on a label. When the printer’s printhead heats the ribbon, the ink melts and transfers onto the label. Thermal transfer printers is perfect for labels that require durability and resistance to fading such as shipping labels or product labels.
2. Direct Thermal Printing :
On the other hand, direct thermal printing requires heat-sensitive paper that is chemically coated. When the heated printhead of the label printer impacts the paper, it activates the material, causing the desired image or text to appear on the label. This printing technology is ideal for printing temporary labels like those used in healthcare and retail settings and is also often used for printing barcodes and shipping labels printer.
The key difference between thermal transfer printing and direct thermal printing is the type of paper or material that is being used. While thermal transfer printing uses a ribbon coated with ink, direct thermal printing uses heat-sensitive paper. This result in different levels of image quality and durability, with thermal transfer printing producing superior quality and durable labels compared to direct thermal printing.
To aid and enhance the label printing process, there are several label printing accessories that are used. Of them all, label paper rolls are the most integral label printing accessory.
- Label Dispensers: As the name suggests, label dispensers are used to dispense labels from a roll. They can either be manual or automatic and are used mostly in industrial or manufacturing environments.
- Label Applicators: These devices are used to apply labels to products and packages. Available in different types such as handheld or automated applicators, these devices are used in the food and beverage industries, pharmaceuticals, and logistics industries.
- Label Design Software: Used to design and create labels, the label design software can either be simple or complex depending on user’s requirements and is used primarily in conjunction with label printers.
- Label Rewinders: These devices are used to rewind label rolls after they have been printed and help prevent labels from getting tangled or damaged. Label rewinders are used mostly in industrial or manufacturing environments.
These are rolls of adhesive papers that are used
commonly for labelling, printing, and packaging purposes. Available in
different shapes, sizes, and types, these label printers are mostly compatible
with thermal printers. There are different types of label papers available
including matte paper labels, glossy paper labels, foil labels, waterproof
labels, and more.
Different businesses use label printers for different purposes. Some of the common examples of businesses that commonly use label printers include:
- Retail Businesses- to create product labels, price tags, and barcodes for inventory tracking and management.
- Manufacturing Businesses- to create labels for their products including warning labels, ingredient labels, or quality control labels.
- Logistics and Shipping Businesses- to print shipping labels, address labels, and packaging labels.
- Healthcare Businesses- for printing labels for medications, medical equipment and patient records.
- Food and Beverage Businesses- to print product labels, nutrition labels, and ingredient labels for their food and beverage products.
- Warehouse and Distribution Businesses- for creating inventory labels, storage bins, and shipping containers.
- Education and Library Businesses- for printing labels for books, media, and other equipment.
If you own either of the aforementioned businesses, then it is most likely that you would require a label printer to support your label printing needs.
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