A Guide to the Buying a Label Printer
A printer is a necessity for practically any business. If you want to print out shipping labels, or labels with UPC codes or QR codes, you can probably use your laser printer or inkjet printer to get the job done. But, if you have to print large volumes of labels, a dedicated label printer will probably work out more economical.
Although there are handheld label printers that use ink cartridges, most label printers nowadays use thermal printing. This will be adequate for printing addresses on UPS labels, quickly and efficiently. And some companies produce special labels that can print in a few colors (although not with the same range of colors as with an inkjet printer).
We’ll look at some of the offerings in the Best Reviews Guide list of the best label printers. Besides standard printers, we’ll also see printers that allow you to use a template and add a logo. And the efficiency is great: some are able to print as many as 53 labels per minute!
What types of thermal printers are there?
There are essentially two types of thermal printers:
Direct thermal printing: This uses heat-sensitive paper. When heat is applied, the paper turns black. This is the type of paper used in most of the label printers that we’ll examine. You can verify that the label that you have is for direct thermal printing by scratching it with your fingernail. If it leaves a black mark where you scratched, the label is for direct thermal printing. These labels tend to fade over time, however, due to exposure to heat or moisture. The Dymo LabelWriter 4XL Thermal Label Printer is a direct thermal printer.
Thermal transfer printing: This involves a printer using a heat-sensitive ribbon. Some of the ribbon is transferred onto paper by the printer’s heated print head. This type of printer will need to have the ribbon replaced from time to time. But the printed paper will not be so sensitive to erasure from exposure to heat or moisture as in the direct thermal printing option. The Brother P-Touch Cube Label Maker employs this type of printing.
Types of Label Printers
Looking at the Best Reviews Guide list of the best label printers, we see a number of options available:
Inkjet label printers: Besides using your desktop inkjet printer for printing labels, there are also handheld label printers that are capable of printing barcodes, QR codes, logos, and much more. An example is the TikToner Handheld Portable Inkjet Printer. The downside with this device is that you’ll need to purchase ink cartridges from the manufacturer every so often.
TikToner Handheld Portable Inkjet Printer
Thermal label printers: These printers print on thermal paper, instead of requiring ink cartridges or toner. Some printers require using proprietary labels, while others suffice with standard UPS labels. An example is the Rollo Shipping Label Printer.
Rollo Shipping Label Printer
Printing in black and red: However, the Rollo Shipping Label Printer can only print in black and white. If you’re interested in a thermal printer capable of printing in red as well, consider the Brother QL-800 High-Speed Professional Label Printer. However, you’ll need to buy rolls of Brother’s DK-2251 labels for that feature.
Brother QL-800 High-Speed Professional Label Printer
Brother Genuine DK-2251 Continuous Length Replacement Labels
More color printing: Another option is Brother’s P-Touch Cube Label Maker. It is a dot matrix printer that prints by thermal transfer onto proprietary colored strips in widths up to 12 mm. There is a wide selection of tapes, with tapes that let you print in gold lettering on a black background, white on blue, or black on pink!
Brother’s P-Touch Cube Label Maker
Brother TZE P-Touch Tape Guide
Embossed labels: There are also label printers that press the letters into an adhesive plastic strip, such as the Dymo Omega Home Embossing Label Maker. You can buy the plastic strips in 6 different colors. The device itself is capable of printing 49 different characters. It’s a bit slow, in that you have to manually select each letter as you print it. But it’s handy for personalizing objects, or labeling items in your home or office.
Dymo Omega Home Embossing Label Maker
What reviewers say
Here are some impressions of customers regarding the label printer that they chose:
Bluetooth connectivity: Some printers allow you to connect by means of Bluetooth technology. For example, the Phomemo M-110 Label Maker is a portable label printer that can connect within 2 seconds, and work within a range of 33 feet.
Fabric tape: Some printers, such as the Brother P-Touch Cube Smartphone Label Maker, can accept fabric tape. This allows you to create iron-on labels.
Useful Tips for Shoppers
Here are some features of the best label printers that we reviewed:
Printing media: There are printers that take two types of labels: roll thermal labels and folding (also called “fan fold”) thermal labels. The Besteasy Shipping Label Printer will allow you to insert a roll of labels on a spindle inside the printer. Alternatively, you can print on folding labels by threading them through the back of the machine.
Inserting a roll of labels (left) and fan fold labels (right) into the Besteasy Label Printer
Speed: The great advantage of these label printers is their speed. The Rollo Shipping Label Printer will print at 150 mm/second. That’s fast enough to print a 4” x 6” printing label in 1 second!
Installation: Some of these printers only require installing a smartphone app in order to start printing from an Apple or Android device. Others, such as the Arkscan Shipping Label Printer, are compatible with all computer operating systems: Windows, Mac, and Linux.
We gave a quick overview of the best label printers available nowadays. Some are very simple, requiring you to print labels one letter at a time. But the more robust products can print shipping labels at the rate of 1 label per second! And the best thing is that most of them will print on thermal paper, without requiring additional upkeep like buying ribbons, ink cartridges, or toner. Look over the list, and select one today!