Barcodes are becoming exceedingly popular as an electronic system of identification. They need to be generated using special software and then printed with the aid of a barcode printer. Barcode printers are available openly in retail outlets and on websites on the Internet. There are many varieties of barcode printers, they could be hand held or desktop ones, and at various price levels to suit every budget. The commonly used laser jet and inkjet printers are not equipped to print barcodes, and need an additional module to be able to do so. For instance, Capella Technologies has created a flash card that can be added to the HP laser jet printers to enable them to print barcodes. May In Ma Vach However, they provide limited barcode symbols.
The requirement for multiple symbols can be met by thermal barcode printers, the most popular brands of which include Zebra and Symbol. Thermal printers bring out barcodes either by direct thermal printing or thermal transfer. The direct printing method prints the barcode directly on the label, while thermal transfer uses a print head and ribbon. The printing begins with the ribbon getting heated and the image created gets transferred to the paper or label through the printhead. The only disadvantage of thermal transfer printers is the requirement of changing the ribbon frequently. This may mean having the printer shut time and again.
While thermal transfer printer have multiple uses and are extremely versatile, the type of paper or material on which the barcode has to be printed is the deciding factor for selecting the barcode printer.
It is also possible to buy a large barcode printer that can function for both direct thermal and thermal transfer printing. These are useful in manufacturing units that may require both. This is because direct thermal printers are time saving and quick in printing but have a limited capacity for printing barcodes, and hence are preferable for small jobs of printing barcodes. Thermal transfer printers do not limiting capacities and can be used for the long term. However both Zebra and Symbol are thermal transfer printers with a good speed as well. Besides the printing capacity, even a larger printing width is preferable in a printer.
Barcode printer manufacturers have been victims of counterfeiting and to counter this they have installed multiple security features into their barcode printers. One such feature is the RFID tag, i.e., Radio Frequency Identification Devices. This helps check any attempt at duplicating and ensures authenticity.