Choosing the Right Label Printer for your Business

Choosing the Right Label Printer for your Business

Posted by on Nov 13, 2023

Barcode label printers play a pivotal role in modern businesses by enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and overall productivity in various operations. Selecting the right barcode label printer requires careful consideration of several essential features and factors.

This comprehensive guide is designed to provide businesses with the insights needed to make informed purchasing decisions.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Label Printer

1. Printing Technology:

Choosing the right printing technology is the foundation of a barcode label printer. There are two main types: direct thermal and thermal transfer.

  • Direct Thermal: Ideal for short-term applications (6-9 months depending on application). Only requires a roll of direct thermal labels to operate (doesn't require ribbons). Example: shipping labels.
  • Thermal Transfer: Suitable for long-lasting labels. Utilises rolls of thermal transfer ribbons and thermal transfer labels for printing which results in more durable labels.

Note that these types of printers do not require ink cartridges.

2. Print Resolution:

Print resolution directly impacts text and barcode clarity and scanning accuracy. Print resolution is measured in dots per inch (DPI). Generally a higher DPI results in better print quality.

  • Standard Resolution (203 DPI): Suitable for most barcode and label printing needs and is the industry standard resolution for general Shipping Labels.
  • High Resolution (300dpi): Used for images and fine text that require sharpness and clarity. Often used for content information on nutrition labels and medication labels
  • Very High Resolution (600dpi): Used for very fine detail or printing small labels with a lot of information and a small font size. Often used for electronic appliances requiring a lot of information on small labels.

3. Printing Volume:

To assess printing volume you must factor in both the durability and speed of the printer model. As the printing width is limited based on the physical dimensions of the printer (e.g. 2inch, 4inch or 6inch), printing volume depends on the label height. Here we will give some examples of both desktop and industrial printers and how they handle the volume of different sized labels. For this example we will be using the following size guide:

Small Labels: approximately 40mm x 28mm 

Large Labels: approximately 102mm x 150mm

4. Label Size and Compatibility:

Consider the range of label sizes and types supported by the printer.

  • Label Width and Length: Ensure the printer accommodates your required label dimensions. For example most standard shipping labels are 4 x 6 inches (102mm x 150mm)
  • Label Types: Verify compatibility with different label materials (paper, synthetic), adhesives, and formats (fanfold, roll).

5. Connectivity Options:

Modern barcode label printers offer various connectivity options for seamless integration.

  • USB: Standard for connecting to computers.
  • Ethernet: Enables network printing and sharing across multiple devices.
  • Wi-Fi: Provides wireless printing convenience.
  • Bluetooth: Useful for mobile printing applications.

6. Software Compatibility:

Check if the printer supports commonly used label design software.

  • Label Design Software: The leading label design software applications are BarTender, NiceLabel and ZebraDesigner. Using dedicated labelling software makes it easier to design and print labels to suit your needs.
  • Drivers: Ensure the printer has compatible drivers for your operating system. Printer manufacturers typically provide drivers to suit the printer model however when in doubt, check the printer’s specification sheet or manual.

Examples: Windows 10 Printer Driver

7. Durability and Build:

Consider the printer's build quality, print speed, durability especially for rugged environments.

  • Industrial vs. Desktop: Industrial printers are sturdier and more durable for demanding environments. Industrial printers also print faster
  • Durability: Look for printers with appropriate enclosure to best suit your environment. A plastic enclosure for a less rugged requirement, or a metal housing printer will be better suited to harsh environments.

10. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO):

Consider both initial costs and ongoing expenses.

  • Printer Price: Compare upfront costs.
  • Consumables: Evaluate ribbon or label costs over time.
  • Maintenance: Factor in potential repair costs and downtime.


Choosing the right barcode label printer is a critical decision that can impact the efficiency of your business's workflow. By evaluating and understanding the factors mentioned above, businesses can confidently select a printer that aligns with their operational needs.

We hope this guide serves as a roadmap to empower businesses to make informed purchasing decisions, ensuring seamless printing operations.