A lot goes into printing your barcodes. Choices need to be made, steps taken, materials used, standards met, and of course there is technical terminology to describe everything. Memorising print technology terms may not be on your priority list, but it’s important to know what to say when you’re looking for solutions or when something goes wrong.
Whether you print in house or order your barcodes pre-printed, familiarising yourself and your team with relevant print terminology can improve communication between you and your team members or suppliers when it’s time discuss issues or a change in your printing processes. Here we’ve consolidated this list of 25 terms to get you started!
Rollers used to apply inks and coatings. Cavities on the surface of anilox rollers control how thick or thin a layer of liquid ink or varnish is applied.
The acronym for the American National Standards Institute. The ANSI creates tests for industries of all kinds in an effort to standardise the quality of American made products. The ANSI is relevant to printing (specifically barcode printing) because they implemented and ANSI barcode print standard test to measure the print quality of barcodes. This test has since been taken over by the ISO, however it is often still referred to as an ANSI test and the resulting scores and ANSI grades.
Another name for water based ink. An ink that is made from pigments in a base of water.
Some printing methods, such as ink-based direct mark require an electrical pretreatment called a corona. This electrical pretreatment makes surfaces such as films, papers, plastics and glass more receptive to inks or other coatings.
The units used to measure the difference between two different colours.
Direct mark is a process where a marking, such as a barcode, branding or identification information is applied directly to the surface of an object. There are several methods of direct mark including laser etching and specially cured inks. to offer our customers durable colour marking options through our Ready Labware Services program.
A thermal printing method that utilises a thermal printer and heat activated films or papers. As the media runs beneath the heated print head images appear. This print method is commonly used to print retail receipts but can be used for other applications.
A large printing press that often combine some aspects of a copy machine and some aspects of a printer. These types of printing presses are intended for businesses and organisations that print large quantities of material and some print at very large scales.
When a digital based image is printed onto physical media. This term is typically used when referring to professional printing where large format or high volume printers are used.
A rotary relief printing method that utilises plastic or rubber plates and liquid inks or dyes to print on a variety of materials including paper, plastics and fabrics. Flexographic printing is known to provide incredibly high image quality and precise markings.
A fluid containing pigments or dyes that is used to colour surfaces and produce images, text or designs. Inkjet printers utilise ionised inks to produce images.
Inkjet printers utilise inkjet technology which sprays ionised inks that are directed by magnetic plates onto media. Inkjet print technology is the most affordable and is common for in home printing.
The acronym for International Organisation for Standardisation. The International Organisation for Standardisation is an independent organisation dedicated to creating market relevant standards for products, services and systems. One of the ISO standardisation tests includes a barcode test. The ISO barcode test was originally created by ANSI and tests the print quality of barcodes.
Laser Print Technology
A print technology that uses a laser beam to recreate the image to be printed onto a selenium coated drum within the printer creating strategically placed electrical charges. The charged drum is then rolled in toner, and the toner is transferred to the media. Once the toner is transferred to the media heat and pressure are applied to fuse the toner to the media.
The object being printed on. In most general printing scenarios the media is paper. At Computype we mainly print on labels, making labels our media.
PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. A company called Pantone created this colour matching system to standardise brand related colouring so brands can achieve consistent colour representation even when producing at multiple plants or with multiple suppliers. Colours in the Pantone Matching System are represented by numbers.
PMS ink is a coloured ink that has a designated Pantone Matching System number and is identical in colour to that associated PMS colour.
Thermal transfer printers contain a printhead which is a piece of metal that heats up as ink ribbon and media pass beneath it to transfer the desired image from the ribbon to the media using heat.
A flexible sheet that applies ink to a web in relief printing processes. When printing in multiple colours one print plate is needed for each colour and image.
When only four colour inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) are used. These colours are printed overtop each other in layers to achieve all variety of colours. Process ink printing is commonly used in inkjet applications.
Thermal Transfer Ribbon
A plastic ribbon with a coating of an either wax or resin based ink on one side.
Thermal Transfer Print Technology
A print technology that uses a heated printhead to transfer images into media. Both the media and the ribbon run beneath the printhead with the ribbon in the middle. The printhead heats the ribbon in particular areas to transfer the ink from the ribbon to the media in the shape of the desired image, text or design. Thermal transfer print technology is known for its high image quality and durability.
A dry powder form of ink. Most toners are made from granulated plastics.
A type of ink that requires exposure to UV light to cure/dry.
Media in the form of a roll. These are typically cut after printing.
Knowing the right words can help you and your team members identify problems, communicate needs and research solutions. Whether or not printing occurs in your facility it plays a major role in the effectiveness of your identification strategy and should be taken into consideration when seeking improvements to your overall processes. Keep this glossary on hand for the next time you need to discuss your print solution, whether that be with your team, printer supplier or label supplier, when you can communicate clearly you can trust you’ll be on the same page.