Last updated: August 4, 2021

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The label printer is designed for printing labels and stickers. The material used is rolled up in the label printer.

Depending on the type, printing is done with ink, toner or heat. The device is suitable for home use as well as for retail use. This means that labels for jam jars can be printed at home. In retail, the label printer is used for printing barcodes and QR codes.

With our big label printer guide, we want to help you find the right label printer for you. We have compared the different types of label printers and listed the most important advantages and disadvantages to make your purchase decision easier.




Summary

  • The label printer is specialised for printing labels. It is often used for printing barcodes and QR codes.
  • The types of label printer are the direct thermal printer, thermal transfer printer, laser label printer and inkjet label printer. The printers differ according to their printing method, print quality and durability of the print.
  • Prices can vary greatly. The reason for this is that besides occasional personal use, label printers are also used in industry.

The Best Label Printer: Our Choices

Label printers: buying and evaluation criteria

We will then show you how to buy a label printer that is right for you using the following features. The most important criteria that simplify the purchase decision include:

In the following paragraphs we explain what you need to look out for in the criteria.

Colour printing

When buying a label printer, you need to consider which colour tones you need. Do you want to print labels only in monochrome in black and white, or do you also want to print labels in colour? If you only want to print in black and white, you do not necessarily need a label printer with a colour function.

Black and white label printers are suitable for barcodes and QR codes. Colour label printers are great for more creativity.

Label printers without a colour function are suitable for everyday label use. The labels turn out plain in black and white printing. These label printers are therefore very suitable for printing barcodes. For use in logistics and retail, labels in black and white print are also sufficient.

Label printers with colour function offer a wide range of colours for label printing. For this, colour label rolls have to be purchased regularly. The advantage of the colour function is that you can print more creative and vivid labels. The coloured labels look nicer and stand out more.

Of course, the colour function means that the label printers cost more. In addition, there are regular expenses for the colour label rolls. Therefore, you must decide carefully whether you will actually use the colour function.

Resolution

Label printers vary in the resolution of a print. Do you need a label printer with a standard resolution or do you need a higher quality resolution? When buying, you need to look at the dot density (dpi) of the device.

The unit of measurement dpi shows you the dot density of a print. A higher dpi means a higher resolution print.

If label printers have a dot density of 200 to 280 dpi, this corresponds to a standard resolution. This resolution is suitable for normal labelling and barcodes.

From a dot density of 300 dpi, labels are printed in a higher resolution. From this resolution, images with more contrast are printed. They are also suitable for printing finer barcodes and QR codes.

To get the highest quality available, you need a label printer with a dot density of 600 dpi or higher. The labels have a very high and sharp resolution. If you need a label printer for work, a dot density of 300 dpi is sufficient.

Label width

Labels vary in their print height and print width. When buying a label printer, you need to know the maximum width the printer can print. Label printers vary in width from 20 mm up to 170 mm.

Label printers with a smaller available label width are suitable for labels that require less content. For example, if you only need labels for a short item description, purchasing a label printer that has a smaller label width is sufficient.

With a larger label width, you have a larger usable area. This means you can print more content on your labels. The larger label width is suitable for printing labels with larger text and images. This also helps to create better legibility.

Connections

You also need to look at the connections available on the label printer. Label printers can have a USB connection or a network connection. For example, if you want to print labels via an internet connection, you need to check the compatibility of the label printer.

With a USB connection, you can simply plug the label printer into your computer. Your computer will then recognise the device. Your data will be transferred faster and it will run smoothly.

With a network connection, you can connect to your computer wirelessly. This means you can print labels from a distance. The wireless connection gives you access with fewer restrictions. The label printer does not have to be directly connected to the computer. For example, you can also connect your mobile phone to the label printer and print labels.

The speed of label printing is important if you want to print a lot of labels. It shows how long it takes to print a label. If the label printer has a higher speed, the faster you can print more labels.

Label printers with a low print speed are suitable for printing single labels. This means that if you don't need to print labels often, a low print speed will suffice.

If you print large quantities of labels, you need a label printer with a high speed. So if you often need to print labels, we recommend that you pay attention to the print speed.

Label printers: Frequently asked questions and answers

Below you will find the most frequently asked questions about label printers. We want to answer these questions here so that you can get all the information you need about label printers.

What is a label printer?

A label printer is a mobile or stationary printer that is designed for printing labels and stickers. It is especially used for printing the following things:

  • Barcodes
  • QR codes
  • Fonts
  • Graphics

For marking prices and shipping labels, the label printer is also used. In addition, it is used in the warehouse for labelling storage locations, products and machines.

Etikettendrucker-1

A QR code is an electronically readable code. Label printers are used for printing QR codes.
(Image source: pixabay / Wilfried Pohnke)

The difference between label printers and normal printers is that it uses rolled material when printing. A special feeding mechanism is used for this.

What types of label printers are there?

The label printer is divided into four different types, which you should know when buying. In this table we show you the advantages and disadvantages:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Direct thermal printer Fast label printing, Inexpensive printer Requires special paper, Short print life
Thermal transfer printer Long print life, High resolution printing, Suitable for many colours High purchase price, Expensive ink
Laser label printer Sharp and clean print, Fast print speed, Very long durability High purchase price, High power consumption, Requires warm-up time
Inkjet label printer Fine print, No warm-up time required, Low power consumption Ink is expensive, Print does not last very long

The big advantage of a direct thermal printer is that it prints fast. At the same time, it is comparatively cheaper than the other types. The labels are printed with the help of heat. However, the labels do not last very long and the print fades over time.

A big advantage of the thermal transfer printer is that the print is long-lasting. In addition, it offers a large number of colours with the help of thermal transfer ribbons. However, there is a higher cost for the purchase price. You also have to spend more on ink because of the cost of ribbon and paper.

The laser label printer offers sharp and clean printing. The print speed is very fast and the print is long lasting. However, the purchase price is high and there are higher electricity costs. It also requires a warm-up time before printing.

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The inkjet label printer needs new ink cartridges regularly to print. These can cost a lot.
(Image source: pixabay / tookapic)

One advantage of an inkjet label printer is the fine printing of labels. It also requires no warm-up time and the electricity costs are also lower. However, the ink required is expensive and the print does not last long.

How much does a label printer cost?

The cost of a label printer can vary greatly. Since there are different types of label printers, there are many different prices depending on the type of label printer. Prices vary depending on the performance and print quality.

If you use your label printer often and need high quality, a label printer of the more expensive type is recommended. Since there are label printers for home use and for industry, there are big differences in price.

Type Price range
Direct thermal printer 30 € - 3,000 €
Thermal transfer printer 100 € - 5,000 €
Laser label printer 140 € - 6,000 €
Inkjet label printer 100 € - 13,000 €

For your own and irregular use of a label printer, it is enough to buy one under 100 €. If a label printer is needed in industry, you can spend several thousand euros on a label printer. Here it is important that the labels are printed very quickly and in a high quality.

How does a label printer work?

Label printers use either ink, heat or toner to print the labels, depending on the type. The labels are on a roll in the printer. Since there are many types of label printers, as mentioned above, the printing processes are also different.

In a thermal transfer printer, heat is used to print the labels to create a printed image. The labels turn black at a certain temperature.

The direct thermal printer uses a thermal transfer ribbon in addition to the labels. The ink on the thermal transfer ribbon is heated to print on the labels.

A laser label printer uses a printer drum. The printer drum is statically charged in the areas of a label where it is to be printed. The toner powder then adheres to the charged areas.

The inkjet label printer prints the labels using inks. The labels are printed with ink from one line to the next. This process takes place via a guide rail.

What are the alternatives to a label printer?

Besides label printers, there are other alternatives to print something. Each printer has its own functions. In the following table we show you these alternatives.

Type Description
Regular printer Regular printers can also print labels. You only have to use a format for a label size with the help of software. You also need to buy extra A4 paper labels.
Copyshop With this service provider you can print all formats you need. This means that besides regular formats like A4, you can also print labels. Just look for a copy shop near you.

The normal printer also offers the possibility to print labels. When creating labels on your PC, you only have to pay attention to the format. There are copy shops in every town. If you only need to print labels once, it is sufficient to print the required labels at this service provider.

Etikettendrucker-3

A printer is used in the office for printing documents. But it can also print labels.
(Image source: pixabay / 雪飞 王)

The alternatives also offer label printing. But if you print labels often, a label printer is the best choice. They are fixed for printing labels, so labels are convenient and quick to print with this.

How do I print labels?

To print labels, you can also use programmes to create label formats. In the following section, we will briefly show you how to use the programmes.

  • Word

  1. Create a new file and select "Labels" from the "Items" tab.
  2. Then enter the text to be printed on the label.
  3. Under 'Options' you can select the design for your label.
  4. Then you can select how many labels are printed on one page.
  5. In the overview you can change the size and then click on "Print".

Following the steps makes it easy to create labels in Word. Once you have created the format, you can easily change the content again.

  • Mac

  1. Open the Contacts app and select your contact.
  2. Then go to "File" and "Print".
  3. Under "Style" select "Address labels"
  4. Click on "Layout" to customise the labels.
  5. Finally, click on "Print".

With these steps you can create labels using your Mac. You then print them out using your chosen printer.

How do I change the roll label from a label printer?

If your label printer stops printing labels, you probably need to change the roll label. In this section we show you the steps to change the roll on your label printer.

Before changing the roll, make sure that the label printer is switched off. This way you do not risk damaging the machine.

Changing rolls can vary as there are many different label printer manufacturers. However, the following steps are the most common.

  1. Press the release levers on your printer to open the cover.
  2. Remove the empty roll.
  3. Insert the new roll and make sure it is properly seated.
  4. Pull out part of the label so it comes out of the slot.
  5. Close the cover and switch the label printer back on.

These are the steps you need to follow to change the roll on your label printer.

Conclusion

The label printer is a device that is optimally suited for printing labels. For personal use, jam jars or personal photo books can be labelled. In retail, the label printer is used for printing barcodes and QR codes.

A label printer consists of many features. The colour tone shows whether it only prints in black and white or labels can also be printed in colour. The dot density describes how high the quality of the print is. The print speed makes it clear how many labels are printed per minute.

Furthermore, the available connections show how the label printer connects to the computer. With a USB interface, the printer is connected to the computer by cable. A WLAN interface means a wireless connection and offers you easier access to the label printer.

Image source: Nawi/ 123rf.com

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