Barcode Label Printers

 Top thermal transfer label printers for printing high-quality barcodes

For more than 40 years Computype has developed significant expertise and experience across all areas of barcoding and printing. From our own flexographic and digital offset printing machinery, to the reliable consumer label printers we recommend to our customers, we know how to achieve the highest quality barcode in any scenario. The label printers included in this collection are all high quality, reliable models—suitable for many different environments. Here we’ve provided an overview of the printers we know inside and out.

Barcode Printing Methods

There are many different types of label printers and printing methods, including Laser, Inket, Thermal Transfer, and Direct Thermal. The printers you’ll see on this page all utilize either thermal transfer and direct thermal print methods. Most models offer both a thermal transfer and a direct thermal version so you can choose the best print method for your application. 

Thermal Transfer vs Direct Thermal Printing

Thermal printing is heavily utilized across all industries and printing environments—but what is the difference between direct thermal and thermal transfer printing, and which is the right technology for you? Let’s briefly define both print methods. Thermal transfer printing utilizes a ribbon. Ink from the ribbon is transferred to the label material creating the barcode or human readable text and imagery. Thermal transfer printing is the most widely used print method for barcode printing. Direct thermal printing does not have a ribbon, this printing method applies heat directly to a specialty heat sensitive label material.

Direct thermal printers do not require any inks or ribbons, however, this print method is not suitable for harsh environments. It cannot resist chemical or severe temperature exposure, and is most often used for temporary applications. Thermal transfer printing tends to be our preferred method, as it can create a significantly more durable label. You can earn more about these two print methods in our full comparison here

 

Selecting Your Label Printer

Which so many options available for printing on-site, all tending to have similar spec numbers and features, it can be difficult to determine which model is right for your application. The resources and summaries provided on this page can help you understand what is generally offered, but we suggest consulting with your preferred printing and labeling partner before making your final decision. There are far more considerations to make when selecting your label printer than simply knowing your label size—the label material you are using and your environment can have a significant impact on the success of any printer. 

Desktop Label Printers

When space and real estate in your printing environment is limited finding a barcode printer that will easily fit onto your table, bench, or desktop without interfering with your work. The models included in this section are very compact and easy to operate—though many not be quite as robust as the industrial models listed in the next section. 

cab Desktop Printers

As they lead the way in print and apply innovation, some of cab’s smaller barcode printers are often overlooked. These models may be compact, but they can produce quality barcodes consistently and reliably. We are a licensed distributor of cab products because we believe in their quality and performance, and trust their printers to meet the on-demand barcode and label printing needs of our customers.

cab EOS 2/5

The cab EOS series is offered in both thermal transfer and direct thermal versions, as well as a mobile printing version. If your facility is looking for an affordable printer and you don’t need to label large quantities of items, we think the EOS series will be a good fit.

Print Resolution: 203-300dpi
Print Speed up to 150 mm/s
Print Width up to 108 mm
EOS2 Label Roll Diameter up to 152 mm
EOS5 Label Roll Diameter up to 203 mm

cab MACH 1/2

A bit smaller in size compared to the EOS models, the MACH 1 & 2 are also avialable in both print methods and can support small to medium volume printing. That being said, if you are considering the MACH 1/2 we encourage you to compare against the MACH 4S first.

Print Resolution: 203-300dpi
Print Speed up to 127 mm/s
Print Width up to 108 mm
Label Roll Diameter up to 118 mm

Zebra Desktop Printers

Zebra is a commanding force in the printing industry, their models are some of the most widely used in most industries. They have carved a space for themselves in the healthcare space, supporting hospitals and laboratory environments globally. Each of the models listed in this section come in a ‘HC’ or healthcare version in addition to the standard offering, which we will explain further below. 

Zebra ZD421

The ZD4214 inch desktop printer  is available in thermal transfer, direct thermal, ribbon cartridge, and healthcare versions. Zebra reports the ZD421 as being 700% more powerful than the GK series it replaces.

Print Resolution: 203-300dpi
Print Speed up to 150 mm/s
Print Width up to 108 mm
EOS2 Label Roll Diameter up to 152 mm
EOS5 Label Roll Diameter up to 203 mm

Zebra ZD420

The ZD420 is offered in the same versions as the 421, but with slightly less power. Both models are available to upgrade to an optional 300 dpi version, though the 203 dpi versions have a faster print speed.

Print Resolution: 203-300dpi
Print Speed up to 150 mm/s
Print Width up to 108 mm
EOS2 Label Roll Diameter up to 152 mm
EOS5 Label Roll Diameter up to 203 mm

Zebra ZD Healthcare Printing

As we mentioned earlier, as a hospital favorite, both the ZD420 and the ZD421 are available with HC designations making them more suitable for patient care and laboratory environments. The HC includes a white plastic exterior that is able to withstand harsh sanitization processes common in the healthcare field.

Still printing with the Zebra GX430t?

Many people remember the widespread use and considerable success of the Zebra GX and GK series models, primarily the GX430t. The ZD series builds on that success and modernizes for future innovation. Zebra reports the ZD421 to be 700% more powerful than the the GK series.

Is printing your own labels the right choice for your lab? Consider sourcing pre-labeled labware to increase efficiency and boost value.

In cases where there is variable information needed on your labels that is only available at the time of printing, such as patient identification, printing on-site is a requirement. However, in any situation where your label contents are known in advance, such as a simple set of sequential barcodes, pre-applied labels may be a more efficient and effective solution for your laboratory. 

Industrial Label Printers

In cases of higher volume, potentially 24/7 printing, you may require a more robust or industrial label printer. These printers can still be used in any industry or application needing to add some  more horsepower to their printing solution.

cab Industrial Printers

Both the MACH 4S and the SQUIX are true powerhouses in cab’s lineup. These industrial models remain cost-effective while offering a higher print resolution and optional print accessories such as cutters or even applicator arms.

cab MACH 4S

If you don’t need any of the modular flexibility or print and apply opportunities provided by the SQUIX, the MACH 4S is ideal. That being said, the MACH 4S is by no means a runner up, this model utilizes the same print engine as the SQUIX, making it just as powerful as a quality barcode printer. Learn more in our full review video with one of our top printer experts.

Print Resolution: 203-600dpi
Print Speed up to 300 mm/s
Print Width up to 108 mm
Label Roll Diameter up to 116 mm

cab SQUIX

The cab SQUIX printer is powerful, robust, modular, truly state of the art innovation. This model is offered in both thermal transfer and direct thermal printing methods, as well as multiple size versions to support a wide range of label sizes. The true value of the SQUIX, however, are the extra abilities it offers—allowing you to design a full printing system rather than a basic printer.

Print Resolution: 203-300dpi
Print Speed up to 300 mm/s
Print Width up to 108 mm
Label Roll Diameter up to 116 mm

SQUIX Accessories

The cab SQUIX offers many printing accessories including external operation panels, peel and present sensors, cutting, perforating, and stacking add-ons, unwinding and rewinding modules, as well as special covers or higher protection for sensitive applications.

SQUIX Applicators

The cab SQUIX can be easily transformed into a semi-automatic label applicator by adding one of cab’s applicator attachments. For example, take a look at our SQUIX S3200 print and apply solution designed for printing and apply labels to microplates. 

Zebra Industrial Printers

Zebra’s industrial line is comprised of their ZT series models. The “T” in ZT stands for tabletop, meaning compared to their desktop counterparts they are much larger and more robust. Though they are made with industrial environments in mind, these printers are extremely versatile and have proven useful in a diverse array of applications ranging from lab environments to manufacturing centers.

Zebra ZT220 and ZT230

The Zebra ZT200 range kicks off the ZT series as its most basic offering. If printing volumes are on the rise the 200 models serve as an easy step up from the smaller desktop options.

Print Resolution: 203-300dpi
Print Speed up to 152 mm/s
Print Width up to 104 mm
Label Roll Diameter up to 203 mm

Zebra ZT411 and ZT421

The Zebra ZT400 range is a great mid-level offering building on the success of it’s preceding model—the longtime customer favorite ZT400. The 411 and 421 now come with a new touchscreen interface. 

Print Resolution: 203-600dpi
Print Speed up to 356 mm/s
Print Width up to 168 mm
Label Roll Diameter up to 203 mm

Zebra ZT610 and ZT620

At the top of the line sits the Zebra ZT600 range. These models are extremely high-powered and are some of the best options on the market today for 24/7 high-volume printing.

Print Resolution: 203-600dpi
Print Speed up to 356 mm/s
Print Width up to 168 mm
Label Roll Diameter up to 203 mm

Print and Apply Label Applicators

Consider enhancing your printing strategy for tubes and vials with one of these semi-automated print and apply label applicators. These laboratory labeling solutions support a more lean manufacturing environment by combining printing and application into one step. Explore tube and vial label automation further by exploring this page.

cab Axon 1

The cab Axon 1 applies labels to tubes vertically, making it an ideal choice if any further automation or robotic handling is present in your laboratory. The Axon 1 can also support both conical tubes and capped tubes. 

cab Axon 2

The cab Axon 2 predated the Axon 1 and marked a new opportunity for many laboratories by offering an affordable, compact, simple solution for print and apply label automation. The Axon 2 applies labels to tubes horizontally, and is a great benchtop solution.

cab Hermes Q

The cab Hermes Q printer applicator can label much larger cylindrical objects, including larger bottles, in addition to the smaller tubes and vials. The Hermes Q can also be mounted above a conveyor system to support downstream atuomation.

cab SQUIX S3200

The cab SQUIX S3200 was configured by Computype as a print and apply solution for microplates. This system utilizes the printing power of the SQUIX along with the S3200 applicator attachement to create the applicator.

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