Printer Supplies

Could Your Barcode Labels Be Damaging Your Printers?

While barcode printing supplies may seem like a simple part of your business, using the wrong ones can have far-reaching implications. What starts as a relatively small issue can quickly escalate into larger problems and un-scannable labels can result in a reduction of work productively and increase in costs.

When we’re printing barcode labels, many of us like to save on costs, so we buy cheaper labels and printing supplies. But we don’t realise that the money we save on up-front costs will often turn into much higher costs in the long run.

This is because cheaper labels and printing supplies are usually made with low-grade materials that aren’t consistently manufactured and can actually damage our printers. They can also cause major issues with print quality, label adhesion and barcode scannability.

In the end, using cheaper supplies adds up to costly printer servicing, repairs and disruptions to scanning and data capture workflows that often far outweigh any initial savings.

Investing in the right supplies is the best way to minimise your labelling costs and ensure seamless data capture processes. Cheap barcode labels and supplies cause a range of costly and damaging issues because they are not made to match specific labelling application needs resulting in blurry, faded barcodes and increased wear on printhead.

Next comes heat sensitivity, especially if you’re using direct thermal printing. Cheap labels are often sensitive to heat and create more print quality issues, requiring more printer adjustments and wasted supplies.

Additionally, if you’re using cheap, low-quality labels, your label adhesives can easily fail, meaning your labels won’t stick. Damaged and unreadable labels are often the result of low grade materials which aren’t able to withstand the rigours of sunlight, moisture, water or chemicals.

If your labels need to adhere and be readable in these conditions, low-cost supplies just won’t cut it. For these types of applications you need specialised label materials, adhesives, and printer ribbons so thats the labels won’t smudge, smear, become un-scannable or become detached from the application.

To avoid all of these issues and minimise your long term supply costs, invest in Zebra barcode labels and supplies. Zebra manufactures all of it’s products with ISO-certified quality processes and rigorous pre-testing to ensure proper adhesion, scannability, durability, and minimal printhead wear.

As a proud Zebra Solutions Partner with 25 years experience in the barcode and labelling industry we offer a wide range of consumables to pair with our printing solutions. Call 01975 564111 to speak to one of our friendly sales team.

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Choosing The Right Label Solution For You

Choosing a printing and label solution can be an overwhelming and difficult task. Incorrect printing solutions can be costly to your business in time and inventory control. But don’t panic, with us you are in safe hands.

At Sciamed, we have over 25 years experience with label and printing supplies. We’ve collaborated with industry leaders in barcode-scanning and data-capturing devices and worked with clients whose industries span all verticals.

When we work with you, we first identify your supply needs. After that, we’ll construct a total solution plan that is comprehensive and tailored to your business’s unique goals. We take the following factors into account to find a top-quality label solution for your needs.

Product Mobility

Analyse where your products spend their time. Figuring out your product’s day-to-day journey will help us choose what kind of label material and mobile printing solution you need.

If products have to sit outside, you’ll likely want to invest in thermal transfer synthetic material. This ensures durability and flexibility when it’s time to move products again. Conversely, for indoor products, you’ll probably want direct thermal labels.

Environmental Needs

In addition to considering where the products actually sit, also consider what is going on around them.  Environmental conditions play a pivotal role in determining the optimal solutions for your unique applications.

Weather and Temperature

Adhesive is extremely important with labels, and extremely high or low temperatures can reduce the label’s efficacy. It matters if you place the label on the product in 25 degrees heat and then transfer the product to a freezer that has a temperature of -15.

Abrasion and Chemical Resistance

Labels can become illegible and rendered useless from abrasion. Choosing label ribbons that have higher resin concentrations will keep labels going strong.

Similarly, if labels are near chemicals, no matter how harsh you’ll want to take note. If products are coming into contact with moderate or weak chemicals (alcohol, bleach, water,) consider thermal transfer material. But with exposure to harsh chemicals, like bleach, alcohol, acetone, and xylene, a resin ribbon would be the best fit for durability.

Lifespan

The best label solution will depend on your label’s required lifespan and the environmental factors we mentioned above. Direct thermal material is the best option if your labels will be used for less than six months in standard temperatures and a dry environment.

If you’re dealing with exposure to extreme temperatures, harsh chemicals, or moisture, you’ll need specialty thermal transfer labels.

Surface Type to Label

Not all labels and label adhesive are created equal. The surface material affects what will be the best label solution for you.

The surface shape and type does matter and you might end up paying more if your chosen solution isn’t the exact right fit.

Printer and Label Quality (speed, darkness, DPI)

Prioritise this aspect if your labels need to be printed within a certain time span. The label material that you use is directly correlated with print speeds.  For example, synthetic material won’t print in high quality above 6 inches per second, and you’ll need a special high-speed wax ribbon to print faster than 12 ips.

If you want fast printing, you’ll want to increase darkness to ensure better barcode quality. Using higher-grade ribbons uses more energy and more ink since print darkness should be high with higher print speeds.

Lastly, for labels that have small fonts or detailed graphics, dots per inch (DPI) are extremely important. If that’s the case for your business, you’ll need a very smooth or glossy synthetic material.

We Are Here To Help

If you’re worried about the cost of switching your mobile printers to improve your label quality, you may be interested in our Zebra Trade Up Programme. Give us a call today and see what discounts are available – 01975 564111