Print Speed and Total Cost of Ownership

 

You rely on your thermal printer to reliably produce high-quality barcode labels and tags. Are you consistently getting the results you expect? Is the print too light? You could try slowing the print speed, but then you’re compromising productivity. The real problem might be that you’re not matching the supplies to your printer.

Imagine you’re driving a high-performance car. Would you fuel it with low-octane gasoline? Not if you want it to last.

You have hundreds of choices of media and ribbon combinations for your thermal transfer printer. You match the media to your application, like exposure to abrasives, moisture, and extreme temperatures. Are you also matching supplies to your printer? When you choose the appropriate supplies, you optimize the print quality and reduce waste—like downtime and the expense of replacing supplies and reprinting labels. You also prevent the printer from running at extreme pressure and darkness settings.

zt220-full-width-print-72dpiFor example, when you’re running your barcode label printer at high speed, you won’t get the best results with a ribbon that isn’t designed for that level. While you invest time in adjusting the settings, you might do better to first switch to a wax, resin, or wax/resin ribbon (depending on your application and needs) that is engineered for higher speeds. Zebra offers thermal transfer ribbons in varying grades to handle your printer speed. The 5319 Performance wax thermal transfer ribbon has been tested and approved for speeds of up to 8 inches per second (ips). If you need a wax ribbon to handle speeds of up to 12 ips, choose the Zebra 2000 High-Performance wax ribbon.

The total cost of ownership of your thermal printer is much more than the purchase price. You should factor in the supplies and maintenance to get an accurate TCO. When you use inferior supplies, you save money on one end, but spend at least that much (probably more) in printer downtime, unnecessary repair, IT time, and the expense of replacing those subpar thermal printer supplies.

Contact Informs to ensure you’re getting the right supplies for your thermal printer and applications, so you also optimize the TCO.

How to Find the Perfect Print Resolutions for your Barcode Label Size

Your barcode labels elevate your operational efficiency. The data encoded into the little symbol can be used to expedite accurate picking and shipping, prevent product tampering and counterfeiting, tighten inventory control, minimize the impact of a product recall, streamline audits, and give you real-time visibility into your enterprise data.zt610-micro-label-closeup-web-72dpi (2)

You get all that with one small label. Choosing the right combination of barcode label size and print resolution is critical to ensuring your labels deliver on all counts.

The print resolution reflects the number of dots per inch (dpi). The higher the dpi, the sharper the definition of the image. Thermal printers range from 203 to 600 dpi. The smaller the label, the higher the resolution you will require to produce a scannable image. Micro-labels are used to identify tiny components, like those in electronics and medical devices. For these labels to be easily scanned, the micro-label requires high resolution and tight registration. A 600 dpi thermal printer is essential if you are producing barcodes that are less than .25” x .25”, fonts that are less than 10 point, or regulatory symbols or text that is smaller than 6 point.

Zebra, the worldwide leader in thermal print solutions, manufacturers a complete portfolio of barcode printers. They’ve just introduced the ZT600 industrial printers, a series that replaces the gold standard set by the Zebra Xi4 series. The ZT600 is designed for heavy-duty performance in a harsh environment, like a manufacturing facility or warehouse. The ZT610 prints 600 dpi on labels as small as 3 mm. Other Zebra industrial printers, like the ZT410, offer the option of high-resolution printing.

For larger barcode labels—like shipping labels—203 dpi resolution will suit your applications. The video below from Zebra Technologies offers additional tips for choosing the best print resolution for your application.

If you’re not sure of the best label size and print resolution, talk to us at Informs. We’ll help you understand your choices so you get the best match.

8 Things to Look for in an Industrial Printer

Industrial label printers are necessary for high volume barcodePM43 Mid-Range Industrial Printer being used in a manufacturing environment and label printing because they are built to withstand rugged conditions and harsh environments such as those found the typical manufacturing facility.

 

Most manufacturers are printing a large number of labels for inventory tags or asset management, so they need a robust barcode label printer that can stand up to the volume as well as the environment. If a printer is not designed to withstand dust, debris or rough handling, it will not be able to stand up to the demands of an industrial, high-volume environment. Here are 8 factors to consider when choosing a barcode label printer for use in a manufacturing or warehousing facility.

 

  1. Quick Deployment

Time is the one resource you can never regain once it’s gone, so manufacturers need quick deployment and easy configuration to minimize downtime when setting up a new industrial label printer.  Quick deployment usually means user-friendly, so you can be assured that training time is minimal and integration is fast and easy.

  1. Reliable

The high-volume duty cycle in most industrial applications means that reliability must be a prime consideration. Downtime can be costly, and to have to hold up production while the printer is being repaired can mean the difference between happy customers and lost business. Look for proven reliability when doing your research.

  1. Rugged

Most industrial environments are dirty, dusty, hot, wet or all of the above. To survive, an industrial barcode label printer should be designed to function well in adverse conditions. It must be built for high-volume use, with a rugged design to handle plenty of throughput and multiple users.

  1. Fast

Most industrial applications equal heavy volume—hundreds or thousands of labels and tags must be printed every day, without interruptions or failures. The right industrial label printer should be capable of printing at a speed of 12 dps to meet the demand; with print quality to match.

  1. Connected

No two industrial deployments are the same, and most environments undergo constant upgrades and changes. Select a printer with multiple connectivity options, including USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, universal standards and more. Also look for remote management capabilities and multi-lingual management options since most manufacturing operations are melting pots of languages.

  1. Flexible

Space is always at a premium in manufacturing, warehousing and other industrial environments, so many industrial printers are available in multiple form factors so you can find one that meets your needs.  You also want a printer that can handle multiple label sizes and materials so you don’t have to deploy multiple printers to handle large and small labels, or paper and foil labels for example.

  1. RFID Capable

While barcode labels are the most common for data collection today, RFID is gaining ground in many manufacturing and warehouse environments for further increased productivity and greater accuracy. With technology evolving as fast as it does, consider an industrial label printer that is RFID capable. The ideal choice might be one that is capable of simultaneously encoding and printing frequency-agile RFID tags.

  1. Easy to Use

Touch screens, color screens, screens visible in low light conditions or under bright lights and a multi-language interface should all be on your must-have list. And be sure to partner with a provider who can walk you through the various options available and help you determine which attributes and options are best suited to your unique requirements.

For more information on the world of industrial printers and help to determine if your existing solution is making the grade, contact us today to schedule a warehouse walk-through.