If your company’s preferred method of barcoding is to print labels in-house, it is imperative that you find the right printer to accommodate your needs. As a trusted barcode label printer supplier, we are often asked, “How much does a barcode label printer cost?”
All barcode label printers are distinct, and they all specialize in printing barcodes for varying applications and environments, so it depends.
In this blog, we will explain the different printer variables that will determine the final price, and we will provide an overview in regards to what you will likely invest for your barcode label printer once all is said and done.
There are three different types of print technologies:
- Thermal transfer
Each are suited for their own purpose and applications. Since print technologies vary greatly in regards to their intended uses, each has its own unique price range. For that reason, we’ve addressed the question of price per each print technology and their respective options.
Thermal Transfer Printers:
Thermal transfer printers operate differently than your typical office inkjet printers and are utilized most often for printing labels that need to withstand harsh environments. These printers use a thermal process to print barcodes and images, which requires a thin strip of polyester ribbon placed between the print head and the label, where it is quickly heated and cooled.
This process of heating and cooling transfers the image from the ribbon to the label material to reveal your barcode. When determining which thermal transfer printer is the best for your applications, there are many factors that can affect price.
Thermal transfer is the preferred print technology that we recommend at Computype. This is for a few reasons:1. Thermal transfer printers create more durable labels when paired with the correct material and ribbon. The image lasts longer and can stand up to more harsh environments than those printed with ink.
2. Second, thermal transfer printers are versatile; they can print labels of different sizes or formats, and they can do it with ease.
3. Lastly, they require less maintenance as there are fewer moving parts than with other print technologies, which also allows them to run more reliably. View our Top Tips Guide on keeping your thermal transfer printer running optimally.
As with inkjet print technology, other factors and variables will affect the final price of a thermal transfer printer investment:
Desktop vs. Industrial
Whether your printer is desktop (smaller) or industrial (larger) will affect the price, as they are meant for different environments and applications.
Desktop printers will be smaller than industrial printers, suitable to light-duty use.
Industrial printers are better suited for 24/7 operation, and tasks that require thousands of labels per day as opposed to the hundreds that a desktop printer can provide.
Typically, thermal transfer printers can provide a variety of print resolutions spanning from 200 dpi (dots per inch), to 600 dpi resolution, 600 dpi being the highest and best quality. The dpi that your application requires will affect the price of your printer, as printers with 600 dpi resolution capabilities will print much higher quality barcode images than 200 dpi printers.
Print width will also have an impact on the price, as it determines how big the labels you are printing can be. This will highly depend on the uses of the labels you are printing. Typically, thermal transfer printers will have print width capabilities up to 6”.
Additional Media Options/Upgrade Kits
When buying a thermal transfer printer, you will likely also have media options to choose from; this includes peelers, cutters, full roll rewinders, and peel with liner take up. Additionally, some printers come with Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth capabilities. All of these additional features will make your processes simpler and more efficient, but could increase the initial price of your printer investment.
Ability to add color
Finally, with thermal transfer printers, you have the ability to add a second print color. Contrary to inkjet printers that add color with ink, to print in color with a thermal transfer printer, you need additional ribbon and a specialized printer like the Cab XC model. This will increase cost, as it is an additional consumable.
Industrial Inkjet Printers:
Inkjet is the optimal print technology for you if you need fast and high-quality color printing. Inkjet printers are reliable and efficient, and easily implementable into your existing processes.
As ink is a consumable, it is not a factor into the initial investment in the printer, but it is still something to consider when choosing an inkjet printer as ink supplies will affect the total cost of ownership.
That being said, the different sizes of your ink cartridges could affect the price. If you have a small ink cartridge like in the Epson C3500 that you will have to change rather regularly, your printer will cost less than if you have a large ink cartridge like in the Epson C7500 that takes a long time to run out.
Additional specifications that will affect the price of your inkjet printer include the following:
With inkjet printers, resolution typically varies from about 180 dpi- 720 dpi, 720 dpi being the highest quality printing. With the higher quality printing, your inkjet printer will come at potentially higher costs. Higher resolution can improve the accuracy of barcode and image information, reducing room for error. Additionally, it could further ensure the labels are compliant to any regulations they need to abide by.
Print speed is an additional factor that will affect the price of your printer. If you are in an industrial setting, you may need your inkjet printer to be running all day every day. You also might need to print-on-demand instantaneously. Your printer’s speed capabilities will factor into the final price that you pay.
Connectivity and WiFi capabilities can have an impact on the price of your printer; some printers require USB’s, Ethernet cords, and some are wireless. The different connectivity capabilities will make a difference in the overall price of your inkjet printer.
Finally, accessories that you add to your printer such as a cutter, ink, or service agreements will affect the price of your printer. It all depends on your company-specific application and what best suits your needs.
Laser printing is a digital printing process that produces quality images by passing a laser beam over a negatively charged cylinder called a “drum” which causes the correct color powder to stick to it, allowing it to transfer and fuse the ink to the label material.
These printers are similar in design and functionality to inkjet printers, with the main difference being that inkjet printers use liquid ink and transfer it to the material differently.
Although laser printers and inkjet printers are similar, they do have some different features that could create a price gap between the two.
Depending on the use, laser printers are typically capable of printing faster than inkjet printers. Speed increases efficiency, so if a laser printer seems to have the speed capabilities you are looking for, it might come at an additional cost.
Text Printing Quality
For normal print sizes, text printing quality is similar between inkjet and laser printers; however, if your printing includes small fonts, or small, precise images, laser printers will be the more quality option, likely involving a higher initial cost.
When it comes to ongoing costs, laser print technology will be more costly, as they often require an additional fuser cartridge or replacement of parts with a maintenance kit.
All settings have unique usage requirements that need to be met in order to properly suit the business’s needs. When all is said and done, and your barcode label printer is up to speed with all of your specifications, the price of your barcode label printer will typically range from as low as $350, to as high as 10,000.
Hopefully after reading this, you have a better idea of how much to invest, and how to determine the best barcode label printer for you and your company.