You can pack 12 college students into a Volkswagen Beetle, but that doesn't make it a minivan. Similarly, you can coax office laser, ink jet, and dot matrix printers into printing a bar code, but that doesn't mean they are good tools for the job. Bar codes are not fonts or basic graphics but rather are intricate tools for automatically conveying information. They are used to communicate data more accurately and quickly than is possible by manual methods. These benefits can easily be lost if bar code generation is trusted to a general purpose printer that lacks the specific features necessary to ensure quality bar code output.
A dedicated thermal label printer provides quality, convenience, and cost-effectiveness to the user. The most basic models of bar code printers can create multiple bar code symbologies without special programming, connect to a variety of computer platforms and applications, and use label material that doesn't generate excessive waste or consistently jam, plus provide all the text and graphics necessary for labeling. Thermal bar code printers can easily accept and encode variable data without severely slowing print speed, can produce small labels to exact tolerances, and offer a full range of PC, network, and wireless interfaces for convenient connection and management in any IT environment.
Thermal, laser, dot matrix, and ink jet print technologies each create bar codes in their own unique way. The thermal method is not just different from other technologies, it is advantageous. The exacting tolerances required for bar code printing demand much higher precision and print quality than is usually required for text printing on document printers. The standard print resolution and other functionality in some document printers is often insufficient for bar code printing, necessitating the use of higher-priced models. Encoding variable data, two-dimensional (2-D) symbols, or very small bar codes makes bar code printing much more challenging and is beyond the capabilities of some print technologies.
Using dedicated printers for label generation prevents delays and saves labor associated with multi-purpose print operations. If labeling responsibilities are added to an office printer, label jobs may get stuck in a lengthy print queue while documents and reports are being printed. This scenario is especially troublesome if users are rushing to prepare a batch of materials to meet the express parcel pick-up deadline and must contend with end-of-day reports or other documents being printed. Using a document printer for label generation often also requires label media to be loaded into the machine each time labels are needed and the plain paper to be replaced when the label printing is complete. The process may be repeated several times each day, and saving these minutes can add up to a noticeable improvement in productivity.
Total Cost of Ownership Thermal printing quality provides total cost of ownership (TCO) advantages over other print technologies. Because printheads and other components are designed for printing bar code labels rather than documents, labeling operations will not add excessive wear to the equipment or require premature repair and replacement. Using non-thermal printers results in more time being spent replacing parts, setting up new printers, clearing label jams, and swapping plain paper and label media, which reduces productivity and adds to the cost of the printing system. Additionally, industrial thermal printers are built to withstand dirt, dust, moisture, and vibration, so exposure to these conditions will not shorten the printer's life span.