Everything You Need to Know About Labeling for Cryogenic Storage Part 3: Pre-barcoded Labware

Everything You Need to Know About Labeling for Cryogenic Storage Part 3: Pre-barcoded Labware

Research & Diagnostics, Labware Marking, Price & Planning | 20 November 2019

Posted by Dave Harris

Everything You Need to Know About Labeling for Cryogenic Storage Part 3_ Pre-barcoded Labware

Now that we’ve covered the basics of cryogenic labels and tube and vial label automation let’s talk about pre-barcoding.

Purchasing sample containers already labeled is an often overlooked and little known option for label application. We want to tell you more about it in case it might be a good solution to your specific challenges.

How can I improve accuracy & efficiency in my labware labeling strategy?

What is Pre-barcoding?

Pre-barcoded labware arrives at your facility with barcode labels already applied, meaning you can eliminate tube and vial labeling from your facility completely.

There are two ways you can purchase your labware pre-labeled:

1. Directly from your labware supplier

2. Through an outsourcing partner

When you purchase directly from your labware supplier they will typically add a generic label to your tubes and vials at some point during the manufacturing process. Customization is often limited with this option, but serves very useful when a generic barcode will get the job done.

If you choose to purchase from an outsourcing partner (like Computype!) they can source your labware for you, apply your labels and send it off to you or your end users. Most of the time when you’re working with an outsourcing partner there are more opportunities for customization, but it varies from partner to partner.

Either way, when you purchase your tubes and vials with barcodes and/or labels already applied, you take the task of labeling out of your own hands, which does mean you’ll need to ensure your partner is familiar with labeling for cryogenic conditions, and luckily in the labware and labeling industries, many are.

Learn 3 reasons your lab should learn more about outsourcing

What Can an Outsourcing Partner Do that You Can’t in Your Lab?

Just as with automation, there are a number of benefits to pre-barcoding compared to hand-labeling in-house. From the precision of placement to specialized marking technologies, depending on who you decide to work with there are many options that might not be practical to achieve in the lab. Here are a few benefits that might be available to you with pre-barcoding:

Precision Placement

Your outsourcing partner is likely using automation to apply labels or markings to your tubes and vials, but they may still utilize a manual strategy. Either way, they should have a team dedicated to ensuring the quality of their output.


With pre-barcoded labware two orders become one and an entire step can be removed from your processes when your labware arrives already labeled at your door.

Pre-barcoded labware provides a new level of convenience to labs who don’t have the time, space or workforce to spend on mundane tasks.

Marking Technologies

Some pre-barcoding partners are able to offer customers unique marking technologies that require specialized equipment that just isn’t practical to implement in house. One example is the direct mark option we offer at Computype. Direct mark is an especially great option for cryogenic labeling on plastic containers as it offers increased durability in addition to color options.

Additional Services

In addition to specialized marking technology options, some outsourcing partners will go beyond labeling and perform additional lab tasks. Some services we offer in our program include tare weighing, nase-free preparation, sorting, custom kitting and packaging.

No Capital Investment

Unlike automation equipment, investing in a pre-barcoded labware program doesn’t require you to budget out a one-time capital investment. If your lab isn’t prepared to invest in equipment or volumes aren’t consistent enough to accurately estimate a return, a pre-barcoding strategy might be a better fit for you.

Find out if outsourcing barcode labeling can improve equipment performance, here

Which Labs Should Consider Pre-barcoded Tubes & Vials?

In almost any laboratory situation pre-barcoded labware is a reasonable alternative to manual labeling with one exception: if your lab requires variable information that isn’t known ahead of time.

Pre-barcoded labware requires your partner be aware of what needs to be printed at the time of ordering. This means, if your samples always require time sensitive or patient specific information, pre-barcoding is likely not a suitable option.

Check out our automation offerings if you’re looking for an   efficient solution that can accommodate time sensitive information

If your lab doesn’t require time sensitive variable information, pre-barcoded labware is still a valuable option. Whether you’re looking for a specific print technology, specialized services or just want to save some space in the lab, pre-barcoding can be a great option for labs of any size, throughput volume and budget.

Who Can I Partner With to Get Pre-barcoded Tubes & Vials?

As we already mentioned, there are two ways your facility can receive pre-barcoded tubes and vials—directly from the manufacturer or through an outsourcing partner. Here is a list of manufacturers and outsourcing partners who can offer pre-barcoded labware that we feel are worth considering in your search for a cryo-storage solution.


ThermoFisher is a major labware manufacturer and distributor, and among their offerings are pre-barcoded tubes and vials.

Their Matrix Barcoded Storage Tubes system lets you choose from a selection of their popular tubes—including some suitable for cryogenic storage—and purchase a set with generic barcodes already applied.

Brooks Life Sciences

Brooks Life Sciences is another major labware manufacturer and distributor who offers a variety of brands on their website.

Among their cryogenic storage consumable product line, they offer FluidX branded 2d-barcoded tubes and vials. These tubes come with a laser-etched generic barcode already applied to serve as a license plate through storage.

LVL Technologies

LVL Technologies is a Germany based labware and device manufacturer that focuses on helping labs store their liquid samples. Among their line of products is a line of cryogenic tubes and vials with the option to add pre-applied barcode labels. The labels can include text, linear barcodes or 2D barcodes and are able to withstand temperatures as low as -196C.

Greiner Bio-One

Greiner Bio-One offers a collection of laboratory supplies for customers in the life-science industry. Included in their product line is a range of tubes and vials suitable for cryogenic storage, and one of the unique features of these vials is the option to add either generic or custom 2D or linear barcodes upon ordering.

TWD Tradewinds

TWD Tradewinds is a supplier of labware solutions who also offers a pre-barcoding solution. Glass or plastic vials and bottles can be ordered to have generic or custom barcodes already applied.

What about Computype?

Computype offers a pre-barcoded labware program called READY Labware Services. Through READY Labware services we offer pre-barcoded labware including microwell plates, tubes, vials and more.

Our program also features two marking technology options suitable for the pre-barcoding of tubes and vials intended for cryogenic storage:

Marking Technologies:

    • Pressure Sensitive: We offer all of our standard label options to our READY Labware Services customers including our Cryo-hold freezer and liquid nitrogen labels!

    • Direct Mark: At Computype we offer ink based direct mark print technology that uses specially cured inks to print directly onto the surface of your container. The cured inks are extremely durable and can be exposed to a wide range of chemicals and temperatures without damage.

      Direct mark is a great match for cryogenic conditions as it can withstand a very wide range of temperature and chemical exposures.

      Another appeal of direct mark is the ability to add colorful designs. Whether you’re looking for a color coding solution or want to add a brand logo to your containers, both are possible with direct mark.

Read our blog post to find out which technology is best for your lab

Additional Services:

    • Nase-Free Environment: if needed, your plates can be prepared and labeled in a nase-free environment to ensure usability in DNA testing.

    • Tare weighing: We can accurately tare weigh each of your tubes and vials for you prior to shipping and provide you with a report of the results so you can remove one more step from your lab processes.

    • Custom Kitting, Sorting & Packaging: You decide how you want your containers to arrive. If you want pre-prepared kits ready for your technicians to use, we can send you that. If you want your plates sorted and stacked numerically, we can do that for you. Want them packaged in a specific way? Let us know and we’ll try to accommodate your needs.

How Much Do Pre-barcoded Tubes & Vials Cost?

The cost of your pre-barcoded tubes and vials will vary depending on several factors, namely: your source, quantity, marking method and any additional services you choose. Generally, pre-barcoded tubes and vials will cost more than those without labels already applied. However, when you consider the cost of equipment, consumables and labor required to get the job done in house, you may find it’s equally, if not more cost efficient, to go with a pre-barcoding strategy depending on your practices.

Your Source: depending on where you go to get your pre-barcoded labware, the customization of your barcodes, marking technology and amount of services offered will vary along with the cost.

Suppliers and partners who offer more customization options and services will typically have a broader price range with more variables that affect the cost than those who offer less. Because of this, if you expect more custom options you will likely end up paying more than if you choose a supplier who can only offer a generic barcode strategy.

Quantity: as quantity increases, so will the overall cost of your order, it really is as simple as that.

Marking Technology: The differences between a pressure sensitive cryogenic-resistant barcode label and a colorful direct mark print with your brand logo will be reflected in the price. This is because things like extended durability and branding are valuable to some customers, but not to others.

If samples have a short lifespan before disposal, why should you pay more for a durable custom label? While on the other hand, if your samples will spend years in cryo-storage and a color coding strategy will help identify samples at a glance for simplified downstream processes a more durable custom option will prove valuable to your facility.

Additional Services: When you work with a partner who offers additional services, like tare-weighing or custom kitting, you can expect to pay more for those services if you choose to opt in. Since these services might normally be performed in your own lab, you receive value in the convenience of receiving your tubes and vials with these tasks already completed.

A comprehensive labeling service to suit your specifications. Download the READY Labware Services Brochure

Hopefully this part of our series was able to give you a better idea of what pre-barcoding is, where you can find pre-barcoded tubes and vials, and whether or not sourcing pre-barcoded labware is right for you.

In part 4, we want to help you through the process of choosing the best labeling strategy for your facility by listing out the steps in the decision making process, and what each entails.

Our goal in this series is to cover everything you need to know about labeling for cryogenic storage, from what it is to your options when it comes to getting it done. We hope we were able to answer your questions, but if you have more please leave them in the comments below!

If you have any specific questions regarding Computype’s label outsourcing program, give us a call! 

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Dave Harris

Based in Chicago, IL, Dave Harris has been with Computype for over 23 years in a variety of sales & leadership roles. As our Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Dave works with customers all over the globe to ensure tangible & consistent business benefits are realized. Focused on cost savings, operational efficiencies, and process optimization, Dave’s role is to help customers get the most value from their automatic identification investment. In his spare time, Dave likes to golf, watch movies, and spend time outside with his dog, Yukon.