Table of contents (skip to):
- What are label printers?
- Types of label printers
- Advantages of label printers
- Thermal label printers
- Dymo label printers
- Brother label printers
- Top 10 label printers
What are label printers?
The clue is in the name - they are specialist printers, designed to do nothing but labels. They won’t do your holiday snaps, but they will ensure everything in your office is accounted for. The first time I encountered a label printer was back in the seventies, when I got a Dymo hand-held one in my stocking from Santa. I labelled literally everything in the house, including my two brothers!
Label printers offer a convenient and efficient way to create custom labels for a wide range of purposes. They often use thermal printing technology, applying heat to special thermal paper or thermal transfer ribbons. They can be hand-held or desktop. Some connect to a laptop or computer, while others have built-in keyboards or touchscreen interfaces, allowing stand-alone operation.
And they aren’t just for names. They can print barcodes, prices, and product descriptions. And some offer great durability and ruggedness. Some label printers are built to withstand harsh environments, such as industrial or outdoor settings, with labels that are both water resistant and impact resistant.
Label printers are used for product labelling, asset tracking, inventory management, shipping and logistics, healthcare labelling, laboratory sample identification, and so much more.
Types of label printers
- Direct Thermal Printers use paper that darkens when heated. A typical shop receipt, if held above a hot bulb, will blacken. This is the process these printers use.
- Thermal Transfer Printers use a thermal printhead to transfer ink from a ribbon onto a label. This produces a long-lasting and durable label, suitable for applications requiring resistance to heat, moisture and chemicals. Often used for asset tracking and compliance labelling.
- Desktop Label Printers are compact and affordable for small to medium printing volumes. They are often used in office, small businesses and retail settings, printing address labels, barcodes, and mailing labels.
- Industrial Label Printers are more robust, and are built for high-volume printing in demanding environments. They can handle dust, moisture and extreme temperatures. You find them in warehouse and distribution settings.
- Portable Label Printers are handheld, and offer mobility and convenience. They are battery operated and often connect to computers via bluetooth or wi-fi. They are great on the go, in areas such as field services, inventory management and retail.
- Colour Label Printers produce full colour graphics, with logos and images. They are either inkjet or laser printers, and produce vibrant and high-resolution labels. They are used in settings where visual appeal is important.
- Label Printing Scales combine weighing capabilities with label printing ability. They are used in grocery stores, delis, and other retail settings to weigh produce and print either price or barcode labels on the go.
Advantages of Label Printers
Efficiency - they allow the production of multiple labels in a short time, streamlining a lot of processes.
Accuracy - consistent labels are important. Text can be precise, and barcodes copied flawlessly, reducing the risk of human error.
Professional Appearance - labels need to be clear, legible, and resistant to smudging and fading. This makes a positive impression on customers.
Versatility - It is easy to customise the information on labels, so that every product and price (and other vital information) is accurately given.
Convenience - Label printers are easy to use, and designed for just one purpose, simplifying the labelling process, and allowing those without extensive training or technical expertise to use them.
Label Durability - The right printer can produce labels that are very resistant to environmental factors such as heat, moisture, or harsh chemicals.
Integration and Connectivity - label printers can be easily integrated into existing work networks, and can connect to computers and office equipment such as tills.
Cost-Effectiveness - Label printers are specialist devices, and are usually by far the most cost effective way of handling labelling. Using standard printers would result in waste and time lost.
Thermal Label Printers
These printers use thermal printing technology to create labels. There are two types.
Direct Thermal Printers use heat sensitive paper that darkens when exposed to heat. The printer has a pinhead that selectively applies heat to the paper, producing the print. No ink, ribbon or toner is used, though you do need specialised paper. Direct thermal printing is suitable for temporary labels, receipts, and shipping labels.
Thermal Transfer Printing uses a thermal printhead to transfer ink from a ribbon onto the label. The ribbon is often made of wax or resin, and the heat causes the ink to transfer onto the label material. The result is durable and resistant to heat, moisture and chemicals.
Thermal label printers are fast, accurate and versatile. They are widely used in industries where clear, durable and professional labels are essential.
Dymo Label Printers
If you are looking for compact printers that are easy to use and very versatile, Dymo offers a great range. They have been in this market forever. In the seventies they had hand-held printers that mechanically stamped letters onto adhesive plastic ribbon. They have come a long way since. Their desktop label printers offer compact devices suitable for small to medium printing volumes. Their portable printers offer mobility and convenience.
The Dymo LabelWrite series is a popular range that connects to a computer via USB. These printers use thermal printing technology.
The Dymo LabelManager series is for those who need more advanced capabilities. They allow larger label widths, more font style, and customisable formatting, symbols and graphics. They are commonly used in office, retail and industrial settings.
LabelWriter Wireless combines the convenience of wireless connectivity with thermal label printing. The printer can connect to your wi-fi network, allowing multiple users to print from their computers, smartphones or tablets.
Dymo printers are known for their user-friendly design, compact size, and reliability.
Brother Label Printers
Brother is another brand that offers a wide range of label printers. They are known for their durability, versatility, and advanced features. Their desktop label printers are easy to use and come with built-in keyboards, intuitive interfaces, and software for label design. Their portable printers are lightweight and offer great mobility.
Brother’s LabelWriter series use direct thermal printing technology for fast and efficient labelling.The printers offer easy integration with computers.
The Brother QL Series is great for high-volume label production. The series offers great connectivity options such as USB and Ethernet.
The Brother P-touch Series has many advanced features and customisation options. The series includes desktop and handheld models, providing great flexibility.
Brother label printers are known for reliability, print quality, and extensive customisation capabilities. They have user-friendly interfaces, and are robust.
Top Ten Label Printers
Any top ten is subjective, and very dependent on what you need your printer for, but this is our pick of the best label printers.
- Dymo LabelWriter 450, a compact desktop that is easy to use and fast.
- Brother QL-800, a high-speed printer offering professional-quality results.
- Zebra ZD410 label printer, a versatile thermal printer known for durability, reliability and high quality.
- Dymo LabelManager 210D, a handheld printer offering basic printing, easy interface, and affordability.
- Epson LW-600P, a portable printer with bluetooth connectivity, allowing printing from smartphones and tablets.
- Brady BMP21-PLUS, a rugged handheld printer for tough industrial applications.
- Primera LX500, a colour printer capable of producing high resolution labels.
- TSC TTP-244 Pro, a cost-effective thermal transfer printer that is fast and durable.
- Rollo Label Printer, a desktop model offering fast and reliable printing.
- Citizen CL-S521, a compact and reliable printer known for being fast and easy to use.
We often say that what printer you need depends on what you want to do with it. Never is it more true than when it comes to label printers. A general all-round printer will do for a small office, a home, someone printing essays or someone doing their holiday snaps. But when it comes to labelling, you need to get the right printer. Almost right is wrong. So get in touch and lean on us. We have the expertise to help you make the right choice.