Label Printers for Many Applications
Many businesses purchase thermal label printers with one specific task in mind, like shipping or product labeling. However, your thermal printer can be used in a much wider range of applications! In fact, you can put your label printer to work in a number of different ways that can help you cut costs and improve your business processes.
Labels and Changing Media
A label is a simple and cost-effective tracking tool to help you identify something. With labels, you can identify anything from products and assets, to employees and patients. But with a simple change of media and a couple of adjustments, you can use your label printer for a whole host of other printing applications. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
But first, one important note to remember: when you swap out the media, don’t forget to use your design software to create a template that matches the size and style of your new media (i.e., the images, barcodes, and text need to be organized to fit your specific needs).
APPLICATION: Product Labeling
Product labeling is by far one of the most common uses for a label printer. Product labeling can be anything from UPC (barcode) labeling to product IDs and even ingredient labels. Though barcodes are most commonly used for product labeling, many other types of labels can be produced with your thermal printer. For example, ingredient lists, expiration dates, and special warnings or directions can all be made for your products with the same thermal printer that you’re using to make UPC barcode labels. No matter what the use, your thermal printer can easily create labels for individual products as well as product cases or cartons.
Product labels will have to last until the point of sale or possibly the entire life of the product. Since most products will not encounter harsh or rugged usage, a standard paper label will be the most economical choice. To ensure the label lasts, it’s best to use thermal transfer paper as this provides a durable label that will not fade over time. Pair the paper with the correct ribbon and you’ll have a product label you can count on.
Product labeling > Thermal Transfer Paper Labels > Wax Ribbon
APPLICATION: Asset Labeling
Asset tracking is a process that almost every business needs to use, but often has difficulty getting started with. Whether it’s the PCs and printers in the office or tools and machinery at a manufacturing plant, assets are a vital part of every business. Asset management allows you to efficiently utilize, maintain, and replace the tools you need on a daily basis.
The first step in asset tracking is making sure that each item is individually labeled. With an ID on every asset, you can easily track each item uniquely. You’ll also label the locations (e.g. rooms, shelves, racks, etc.) that the assets are located in to quickly call up all the items that should be in that location.
Thermal label printers are a perfect solution for asset labeling as they can print on a variety of materials beyond standard paper. Since assets are items that are used regularly, often get cleaned, and may even be used in rugged or outdoor environments, using plastic labels ensures they will hold up no matter what they encounter.
Asset labeling (indoor) > Polypropylene Labels > Wax/Resin Ribbon
Asset labeling (rugged/outdoor) > Polyester Labels > Resin Ribbon
APPLICATION: Shipping Labeling
More UPS and FedEx shipping labels are made with thermal printers than any other type of printer. In many ways, thermal printers have become very popular because they are easy to use and cost effective for printing shipping labels.
However, many businesses don’t realize that the label printer they have can also be printing any label that is part of their shipping process. Package contents, return and even address labels are all possible to create with your shipping printer. Simply load different sized labels for the specific shipping task and you’re set to go.
Shipping labels need to withstand up to a couple weeks of use while the delivery is in route. Given this limited lifespan, direct thermal paper labels are the best fit option. They still produce high quality, easy to scan labels but with minimal cost since no ribbon is needed. Just load the printer with labels and start printing!
Shipping labeling > Direct Thermal Paper Labels > No Ribbon
APPLICATION: Receipt Printing
While you may be using your printer to make labels, the printer can technically print on any paper material. The common receipt you get at a retail store is actually the same direct thermal paper your shipping labels are made from. A quick change from a label roll to a continuous paper roll and you’re on the way to making high-quality receipts. With a single printer, you can handle all your labeling and receipt printing needs.
Using a thermal printer for receipts also has the advantage of more size options. Dedicated receipt printers are limited to a 3″ print width while the standard for label printers goes up to 4″. This added inch makes for wider receipts that can fit more information and use less paper.
Since receipt paper is direct thermal (doesn’t require ribbon), just install the new paper roll, select the label printer in your POS software preferences, and start making receipts.
Receipt Printing > Direct Thermal Receipt Paper > No Ribbon
APPLICATION: Visitor ID Labeling
Security is a concern for all organizations today. When you have visitors to your facility on a daily basis, you need to be able to identify and track them. Providing a simple ID for each visitor is a must to ensure everyone’s safety. For temporary purposes such as using for visitors, a label is the most efficient option.
Given the low cost per label, a thermal printer is a quick and simple solution to make disposable IDs. Compared to basic handwritten labels, a printed label is much harder to forge and can have expiration dates/times on them for greater security. Plastic ID cards can offer similar security but are much more costly and if they are re-used, end up being another task to manage.
Thermal printers provide a cost-effective and high-quality way for you to print clear images of each visitor on the label. The printer’s quick print speed also keeps the visitor check-in process streamlined. With direct thermal labels in your printer, you are set to ensure that everyone in your building is who they say they are and are authorized to be there.
Visitor ID > Direct Thermal Paper Labels > No Ribbon
APPLICATION: Wristband Printing
We’ve all come across wristbands while attending a concert, going to a water park, or visiting the hospital. They’re a durable and disposable tool to easily ID a person. While they are often just color-coded, using barcodes and custom printed text provides additional security and trackability.
Instead of buying pre-made wristbands (which offer no customization beyond a color) or investing in a dedicated wristband printer, your thermal label printer can be put to use. Create unique, customized wristbands just as easily as you make labels. Making wristbands for a company event or at patient check-in could not be easier.
Though they are used for a short time, wristbands need to be rugged enough to handle the wear and tear of being worn by a person. Available in either direct thermal polypropylene (indoor use) or thermal transfer polyester material (outdoor use), they come on the same type of easy-to-load rolls like labels. Simply change your media, adjust your design settings, and you can start making full customizable wristband IDs.
Wristbands (indoor) > Polypropylene Wristbands > No Ribbon
Wristbands (rugged/outdoor) > Polyester Wristbands > Resin Ribbon
Getting the Most From your Printer
Businesses are constantly under pressure to maintain productivity while keeping costs at a minimum. “Do more with less” is the motto of the day. Using the technology you already have to serve multiple purposes is a simple but often overlooked means to greater efficiency.
Thermal printers are a perfect example of technology that you can leverage for a variety of applications. All you have to do is change the media you put inside it, and you’re ready to put your investment to work for a variety of your printing needs.