Zebra Labels are labels that can be used by Zebra branded thermal printers. But before we go into that, let’s learn a bit about the labels and how barcodes came to be a part of our daily lives.

For over two decades now, the barcode has been a staple of our modern world. The technology behind these black-and-white symbols is surprisingly complex. A typical one consists of 12 rows of white bars on a black background with varying widths that represent data encoded in machine readable form. This information can be read by any scanner or computer to automatically decode what’s being stored within. As the years have gone on, we’ve seen many improvements and applications of this simple idea. Today there are several different types of bar codes available including QR Codes which use a combination of white and black pixels. These can also store more information than traditional ones but they’re not as widely used so far. It should come as no surprise then that businesses have found multiple uses for them, ranging from marketing to inventory control. In most cases though, you’ll find them primarily associated with shipping products across long distances. If you need help choosing your next label or tag product, here are some tips to consider when selecting an encoding method based upon your specific needs.

1. Printing Labels – Choosing the right kind of printer

The simplest way to create a bar code is to print it yourself using laser printer or a desktop inkjet printer at home. For small runs of under 100 items per month, both methods work well enough. Another advantage of going the laser route is that the resulting image will always contain a solid colored border around each individual box unlike the blurry edges often produced by toner images from inkjet printers. Keep in mind however that unless you purchase expensive high end laser printers, their output tends to lack quality compared to dedicated labeling machines. However, if you plan on running higher volumes, you may want to look into other options like those thermal printers discussed below. Mobile printers tend to cost less upfront and require smaller spaces to set up while desktop models allow for greater flexibility since you can choose between various sizes of labels, tags and in some cases fabric. If you’re going to print more than 1000 labels a day, then an industrial thermal printer would be ideal. Since this article focuses mainly on large volume production, let’s assume that you don’t fall into either category. When shopping for a thermal printer, make sure you check out reviews online before buying anything. There are a large variety of Zebra printers available in the market, from the above mentioned mobile printers to the desktop and the industrial ones.

If you’d rather not get a printer, then another option is to go through a service provider like PrintSource, Staples or Kinkos. We also offer printing services for labels, contact us for more information. Their services include everything from designing & producing the labels and providing boxes to actually delivering them to the customer. Unfortunately, they only ship via FedEx Ground which means that delivery times aren’t guaranteed. Also, because they source materials directly from third party suppliers, they have limited selection so you might have trouble finding exactly what you need. Finally, depending on where you live, international shipments could incur extra charges. Nevertheless, if you place an order regularly, having someone else handle all of the details saves you money without sacrificing much convenience.

2. Labels and Tags – Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer

Zebra printers are classified as thermal printers, that means they tend to use heat to either directly print on the label or tag or through using heat and a ribbon to transfer ink onto the label or tag. For more information on the difference between a direct themal label and a thermal transfer label, click here. What is a tag though?

In addition to standard labels, there exist special kinds of labels known as “tags”. While they’re typically made of paper, plastic or metal versions also exist, they differ in purpose. Commonly used at retail locations to display price points, stock numbers and item availability, tags can also be attached to larger loads and shipped cross country. Like regular shipping labels, they consist of a rectangular piece of material with raised lines embossed onto its surface. Because of their unique characteristics, tags can withstand the rigors of transportation better than ordinary mailers.

3. Industrial Vs Desktop Vs Mobile Printers

Depending on whether you intend to produce labels en masse or simply run occasional jobs, you’ll have to pick a suitable label maker accordingly. Generally speaking, low volume users can benefit from inexpensive desktop models that fit comfortably on a desk or table. Though technically capable of printing thousands of labels per day, most of them lack advanced features commonly found in industrial grade devices. Instead, you’ll have to settle for basic functions like auto cutter, variable font size and automatic numbering. On the upside, they tend to be very durable and reliable making them ideal for short term projects.

For bigger operations, specialized pieces of machinery called “thermal printers” are recommended. Capable of churning out tens of thousands of labels every hour, these machines are frequently equipped with automated cutting mechanisms, feeding trays and built-in rewinders. Of course, they also come with lots of bells and whistles that improve productivity further. Thanks to technological advances, newer labelling equipment today doesn’t necessarily need to occupy a lot of physical space. Portable units weigh roughly 2 pounds and built to have enough capacity for full usage throughout the workday. Not only does this reduce operating costs, it allows workers to keep track of supplies throughout the warehouse/street or supply chain. Despite costing slightly more upfront, mobile solutions are becoming increasingly popular among medium sized business owners. And as for large corporations? Well, chances are that they already invest heavily in industrial printers across their logistics, packaging and labelling departments.

4. Barcode Scanners and Shipping Labels

The majority of customers tend to use zebra label printers to print shipping labels, or box labels, or barcode labels for their products. So it is imperative that the print quality is perfect so that they can be easily read by a variety of barcode scanners.
When scanning products manually, you must ensure that your device provides clear images with minimal distortion. Otherwise, you might miss vital information like expiration dates or serial numbers causing unnecessary errors. Fortunately, even for people without barcode scanners, nearly all modern smartphones support optical character recognition (OCR). Simply point your camera toward the relevant area and wait for the software to analyze it. OCR works similarly to how computers decipher text except that instead of reading words, it reads characters. When successful, it produces exact measurements and coordinates necessary for picking and packing. So a quick test of your labels, would be to simply point and scan it with your phone’s camera app or a dedicated barcode/QR scanner app.