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BARCODE PRINTERS

Barcode Printers Overview
Although most printers can generate barcodes, there is only one technology that specializes in barcode printing and label generation on the market, called "thermal". Below is a brief description of the two methods of thermal printing, Direct and Thermal Transfer. The printers are broken down into three main printing categories: entry, midrange and industrial. The resolution of the printer is measured by how many dots per inch (dpi) the printhead provides. The most common dpi is 203. This dpi works fine for standard barcodes and text. If their is a need for high density barcodes or graphics, a 300 dpi, 400 dpi, or 600 dpi printer will work best. The cost is associated with the category, the width of the printhead (the wider the printhead the higher the cost), and with the dpi of the printhead. 

Direct Thermal or Direct (DT)
Direct Thermal printing is a technology that uses a thermal printhead that heats elements on the paper or media itself to create an image. No ribbon is needed, but special media is required in order to work with a Direct Thermal printer. Many different types of media can be purchased for Direct Thermal printing, including paper (which is most common), polyester, or other synthetics for very harsh environments. Direct Thermal printing works best for labels that need only last for a short period of time, such as a shipping label, or a product label that has a short shelf life. The media itself is sensitive to heat and UV light, which will cause the media to activate or "burn" from added exposure. If labels are needed to last, Thermal Transfer is the technology needed. 
 
Thermal Transfer (TT)
Thermal Transfer printers uses the same thermal printhead with the addition of a heat-activated ribbon. This ribbon creates a much more durable image for labels that need to withstand tough long lasting environments. No special media is required, since the image is "transferred" by the ribbon onto the media. Like the Direct Thermal printer, many different types of media can be purchased depending on the environment. A standard paper label uses a "wax" ribbon. This combination will generate a good long-lasting label as long as the label stays dry and out of the extreme environment. If a more durable or waterproof label is needed, a polyester or a combination of synthetics is required. In this case a different ribbon called a "Resin" or "hybrid" is needed in order to bind more securely and create a longer-lasting image. 
 
Line & Matrix
Line or Matrix printers use one of several techniques for impact printing, using either a formed-font "chain" with a hammer bank or a matrix of small "dot" hammers which can be used to form letters or barcodes. They are an excellent choice for reports or printing large documents, due to both speed and the low cost of supplies. If bar codes are produced with line or matrix printers, more ongoing care and attention to print quality is usually required than with other printing techniques in order to assure trouble-free scanning of codes later. 



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