How to Select the Right Media for Your Barcode Printers

How to Select the Right Media for Your Barcode Printers

Choosing the right media for your printers is critical. The right media will ensure you can print quality labels that stick to their designated surfaces and last without fading. The wrong media could result in poor quality, reduced life for your printhead, and may require you to re-print labels often.

Contact Informs to schedule a mobility evaluation. This free service gives our mobility specialists a chance to get to know your business and processes before working with a vendor like Honeywell to recommend the solution that will give you the longevity and productivity you’re looking for.

Without the right resources at your disposal, it can be difficult to know what is best for your printer and your operation. Here’s how to determine the right media for your barcode printers:

Application

The application essentially means the type of labels you will be printing and most importantly, the type of printer you use. To ensure a long lifespan for both your labels and your printhead, it is important to match the media to your printer specifications, like print speed, resolution, roll size and thickness.

Thermal transfer printers require specific printer ribbons, such as wax ribbons, wax/resin combination ribbons, and resin ribbons. Direct thermal printing requires heat-sensitive paper to create readable labels and protect the lifespan of your printhead. Other printers may be able to use blank stock labels that you can customize to suit your branding elements and operational needs.

Adhesive

To ensure that your labels stay put on their designated surface, it’s critical that you choose the correct adhesive. Labels come in a range of adhesive strength, and you may need stronger adhesive if you are applying labels to a rough surface, or a surface that may encounter hazardous elements.

Also consider the shape of the surface on which you are applying your labels. Smooth surfaces may not require extra-strength adhesive, but curved surfaces may present a challenge for some lower-level adhesives.

Durability

Will your labels need to be easily removed and replaced, or are they meant to last indefinitely? Consumable products like produce will require labels that can be removed without leaving residue, while safety placards would present hazards and could potentially result in fines if they were removed or didn’t adhere properly.

Common adhesive strengths include:

  • Permanent—works well for general purposes, but certain materials or surfaces may prove challenging.
  • Removable—some of these can be removed and replaced again and again, while others can only be used once, but can be easily removed without leaving residue.
  • All-temp—best for environments like cold or freezer storage, or outdoor labels on metal surfaces that can become hot if exposed to sun.
  • Aggressive—for specialty applications that require an elevated level of adhesion. This adhesive is the most difficult to remove and lasts the longest.

Selecting Quality Labels

Beware of cheap, low-quality labels that aren’t designed for your application. Not only could you experience fines or chargebacks when your labels fail, but you could severely damage your printhead and reduce the lifespan of your printer itself.

Your industrial printer is a major investment, so it’s important to protect it with high-quality media. Not only will your printhead stay in good working condition, your labels will have a better chance of sticking properly to surfaces and staying there until they need to be removed. If you are still unsure about the best media for you, speak with a reputable provider, like the experts at Informs, who will be able to provide proper guidance on selecting your media.

Informs partners with Honeywell to provide high-quality, cost-effective labels that suit your operational needs. Interested in learning more? Contact Informs today!

3 Tips for Selecting the Optimal Barcode Printing Hardware

3 Tips for Selecting the Optimal Barcode Printing Hardware

Barcode printing hardware is a major investment into your operation, with major consequences should you get it wrong. The right barcode printing hardware will streamline processes, help you work quickly and effectively, and print lasting, accurate labels that will scan correctly every time. The wrong hardware could disrupt operations, cause unreadable labels, and result in some significant sunk costs.

If you are looking to invest in new barcode printing hardware, here is what to consider:

1.     Environment

Your environment has a lot to do with what type of printer hardware you will choose. If you operate in a warehouse or distribution center with hazards that can cause damage to hardware like dust, spills, splashes, etc., you will need hardware that is designed to withstand those environmental factors.

Some operations take place in extreme temperatures, like freezer storage or hot metal warehouses in warm climates. These temperatures can also damage hardware that wasn’t built specifically to operate under extreme temperature conditions, so it’s important that you factor environmental hazards, as well as temperatures of your warehouse into consideration.

2.     Type of Printer

Barcode printing hardware comes in many different forms and types, so it is good to evaluate all of them and choose the one with qualities that will best suit your operation:

Direct thermal

These devices print on heat-sensitive media. When this media is passed under heated sections of the printhead, it darkens, forming the proper markings. They don’t need an ink ribbon, and the printed labels usually last long, but can’t withstand extreme temperatures or conditions.

Thermal transfer

These printers use ink ribbons to mark labels. These ink ribbons are heated and melted onto the label by the printhead, which makes them last longer, but the media is more expensive.

Desktop

Smaller in size, these printers print fewer labels than industrial printers, but are more ergonomically-designed and provide a smaller footprint. Desktop printers are useful for lower-volume printing applications.

Mobile

These printers are small enough to carry around and can print without cables, making them ideal for printing barcode labels on-the-go and streamlining workflows. Look for mobile printers that withstand rugged environments, Honeywell’s RPe mobile receipt printer withstands drops and exposure to dust and water, and is designed for all-day printing with full-shift battery life.

3.     Size

The optimal size for your printer will depend on how many labels you need to print, and where you need them to be printed. If you need a smaller printer and don’t have much space, a desktop printer will be ideal. If you need to print labels on-the-go, mobile printers may be your best bet. If you’re more concerned with high output than you are with saving space, you will want to consider an industrial printer.

Also consider what add-ons you may need, like an integrated barcode verifier to double-check labels as they are being printed and ensure accuracy. These are ideal for operations subject to fines levied against them for unreadable barcodes.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the right printer can improve the speed of your workers, optimize the labeling process, and boost productivity as well as accuracy. Make sure you choose your label printer based on your individual needs, and what will help you address them.

It also helps to have a provider that is familiar with the issues facing the industry, as well as the various types of printers and their specific uses. A reputable provider, like the experts at Informs, can see details you may have missed, or diagnosed needs that you may not have thought your printer could address.

For more information on how to select the right barcode printing hardware, or available products, contact Informs today!

How to Choose the Right Label Material and Adhesive

How to Choose the Right Label Material and Adhesive

When you use the wrong materials and adhesives, you put yourself at a high risk for incorrect, damaged, or missing labels. If your operation must meet certain compliance standards and you could have heavy fines levied against you for unreadable labels, choosing the wrong material can cause misprints and major issues. You can also damage your printing equipment by using the wrong media.

Reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) by choosing the correct printer supplies you will get the best results and your hardware will last longer. At Informs, we work closely with with a large group of manufacturers and suppliers that respond quickly, like Honeywell.

Here’s a brief guide on the different types of label materials and adhesives available, and how you can determine which is right for your business:

Label Materials

Choosing the right label material makes all the difference when it comes to printing your labels. There are many types of paper and film face stocks available, and each option is best-suited for a specific purpose, print method, and application, so choosing the right option matters.

Common paper face stocks:

  • Thermal transfer: This stock is created for printers using a thermal ribbon. The thermal print head heats the back of the ribbon, melting it and transferring the marks onto the label.
  • Direct thermal: This is different from thermal transfer in that it is the label, rather than the ribbon, that is heat-sensitive. The print head heats the label, which causes the colors to change.
  • Semi-gloss: This material has a sheen to it without looking fully glossy. Labels are printed directly on the semi-gloss paper.
  • High gloss: Another paper medium on which labels are directly printed.—the difference being that this paper has a higher shine.
  • Laser: This paper label is self-explanatory in that it is meant for printers that use lasers rather than ink to create the image.
  • Inkjet: This paper is designed to absorb ink from inkjet label printers and dry quickly to prevent smudging.

Some common film face stocks:

  • Polyester: This film is ruggedized for tough conditions and made to resist tears and scratches.
  • Polyethylene: This material is more malleable and pliant and is often used for labeling curved surfaces like bottles.
  • Polyimide: This heat-resistant film is ideal for electronics and surfaces that may encounter extreme temperatures.
  • Polypropylene: This film is the most common and is relatively inexpensive, used for short-term labeling applications.
  • Vinyl: This stretchy film offers more flexibility while still being durable enough to be used in outdoor applications.

Label Adhesive

While label materials are an important component in ensuring your labels are printed correctly, the right adhesive is just as important—what good is an accurate label if it can’t stick to the surface it was intended for? There are several different types of adhesives and, like the printer material, each is best suited for a different purpose.

Common label adhesive types:

Permanent: Exactly like it sounds, this adhesive works great for general purposes where a long-term application is needed, however it may not stick well to certain specialty materials and surfaces.

Removable: These labels come in a range of aggressiveness. Some can be removed and replaced over and over, and some can only be removed once or twice. It depends on the application and the purpose.

All-temp: For environments with extreme temperatures, this adhesive is ideal. Cold-temp and freezer label adhesives fall into this category as well.

Aggressive: While “permanent” is well-suited for most applications, sometimes specialty applications call for something stronger, which is where this type is used.

Conclusion:

Choosing the right label material and adhesive will do more than just protect you from fines. The right media can protect your printer from aggressive wear and tear. While this guide can certainly help, it is also worthwhile to speak to your provider about your individual needs. The experts at Informs, Inc. have an extensive knowledge about labeling solutions, materials, and adhesives, and can identify the right options for your unique application.

Interested in learning more? Contact Informs today!

The Dos and Don’ts of Laboratory Labeling

The Dos and Don’ts of Laboratory Labeling

Laboratory labeling might seem like just a small part of an overall huge operation, but when you consider the information these labels carry, it becomes a much more  critical step—one you want to get right. When done correctly, labels provide necessary information, increase efficiency, and keep everything organized and accounted for. When done wrong, they become a catalyst for an operation gone awry. Specimens can be mislabeled, processes can be disrupted, and all the necessary information your operation relies on can be lost.

To ensure your operation doesn’t succumb to disorganization, it’s important that your laboratory labeling processes are done correctly.

DO:

Use High-Quality Printed Labels

A high-quality label begins with the raw materials. Make sure you only use the highest-quality printed labels that are easy to read. A clear, visible print means fewer errors—especially when compared to hand-written labels or labels with a lot of text, which are vulnerable to human error. These are more cost-effective because they won’t need to be re-printed over and over.

Use Barcodes to Track Specimens

Implementing barcoding into your laboratory labeling processes creates an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand system that streamlines specimen management. By scanning barcode labels, you can automate tracking processes and stay organized.

Work with a label provider to ensure you are using the right label for the right job

Using the right labels for your application is important, but it’s not always clear which ones are best. Make sure you work with a reputable label provider. These professionals are experts on labels and labeling solutions, and can help your operation create the laboratory labeling solutions you need, and provide guidance to make it easier.

DON’T:

Handwrite Labels

Not only are handwritten labels difficult to read—they’re also unreliable. Regular ink from pens and markers can smear, and handwriting is easily misread, which creates errors. Printed labels are much more reliable, easy to read, and accurate.

Don’t Forget the Barcode

The barcode itself is one of the most important aspects of your label. Barcodes are prevalent everywhere for how effective they are at tracking—almost every label you encounter on food has a barcode, so why not your lab specimens?

It’s estimated that an error is made once every two hundred keystrokes—switching to barcodes can significantly reduce the rate of error. Barcoding has an error rate of about one in three million serial barcode scans, and one in ten million two-dimensional barcode scans. This level of accuracy goes a long way to protect the integrity of your lab.At Informs, we work with our partner Honeywell to offer cost-effective barcode labels that allow for different indoor applications.

Purchase the Wrong Label

Labels come in many forms, and each one is best suited to a specific application. Make sure you are purchasing the right label for your application. Your color combination needs enough contrast to be readable, and the adhesive needs to stick well to the surfaces you are labeling. Make sure your laboratory labeling solution is correct for your operation as well.

If you aren’t sure which labeling solution is right for you, speak with an industry expert at Informs today! Informs, Inc. offers a wide array of labels and labeling solutions for almost any industry. Our team of experts is well-versed on the ins and outs of labeling, and can identify the best solution for you.

To learn more about the solutions we offer and how you can increase efficiency and accuracy in your laboratory labeling processes, contact Informs today.

 

How to Choose the Right Rack Label for Your Warehouse Environment

How to Choose the Right Rack Label for Your Warehouse Environment

In a warehouse environment, things can easily fall into chaos when you have a disorganized space. Warehouse rack labels are important because they are the best way to ensure items don’t fall through the cracks. Warehouse labels make it easier to ensure everything is accurately accounted for and your warehouse, label bins, and storage areas stay organized.

Download our product catalog, to learn more about our full line of data collection hardware, labeling and barcode supplies, and services.

For warehouse rack labels to be truly successful at keeping your inventory and assets organized, you need to make sure you choose the right labels and the right location. Here are a few tips to help you make the right decision:

Environment

There are three main environments that affect what types of warehouse labels you will need to buy. Each of these types of labels have their own qualities that make them the best option for certain environments:

Indoor storage

For dry, indoor environments, these labels adhere very well and can be attached to bins, placards, metal frames, and more.

Outdoor storage

This adhesive can survive different weather conditions like rain, humidity, wind, and some degree of temperature fluctuations.

Cold storage

These types of labels are incredibly durable and can withstand extreme temperatures like those found in industrial freezers.

Materials

Warehouse rack labels come in a wide variety of materials and adhesives to suit different applications. Some of the most popular types are:

 

Polyester rack labels

These are highly-readable labels that are last a long time. They are great for short-range indoor tracking and all types of indoor warehouse environments. These labels are available in permanent high-performance adhesive or removable versions for temporary applications. They can also be attached to foam tape and magnets for dry storage environments.

Retro reflective labels

Retro reflective labels are great for scanning long ranges because of their high visibility. These are best suited for indoor warehouse environments. The reflective nature makes it more visible to both scanners and the human eye.

Magnetic labels

These are best for temporary and adjustable applications. They are best suited for environments where they would adhere to metal surfaces and may need to be moved from place to place. They are easy to apply, re-position, and remove, and are great for short-range or indoor tracking.

Cover-up rack labels

These warehouse labels aren’t used for data collection and tracking so much as they are used to cover up old, outdated warehouse rack labels that have been placed on beams. Usually durable, and made with high-quality adhesive, these seamlessly apply over old labels so you don’t have to worry about cleaning, scraping, or painting over the beams.

Uses

Choosing the right warehouse rack labels that work best for your application requires an understanding of your needs. Do your labels need to be permanent or removable? Do they need to withstand harsh temperatures or do you only need them for dry indoor environments?

What about scan range? If you need overhead bulk storage labels for instance, you should be able to accommodate long-range scanning of 15-50 ft., and perhaps your labels need to be retro-reflective for better scanning. Shorter range scanning of 0-15 ft. can be used for most other labels that are placed in easy-to-read areas.

Also consider the surfaces your labels will need to adhere to (metal, glass, plastic, etc.) and the shapes of those surfaces (curved, flat, etc.).  This will affect the type of adhesive you need.

Conclusion:

The right warehouse rack labels will boost productivity and overall efficiency, streamline operations, eliminate errors from manual data entry, increase visibility, and keep your operation organized. You will only realize the full benefits, however, if you know which labels to choose.

Informs, Inc. offers a variety of warehouse rack labels in assorted sizes, materials, and adhesives to suit the needs of any warehouse or distribution center. Still unsure about which labels are right for you? Contact the experts at Informs today!