You must have noticed those creative and colorful small pieces of paper, plastic, fabric or similar material posted on the products or attached to your branded new piece of shirt that you just bought. Do you know what is it called? Well, that’s a label which serves the purpose of giving information about the object that it is attached to. Labeling is an important part of product packaging because a label provides important information about that particular product such as about the origin of the product, name of the manufacturer (e.g. brand name), shelf-life, use, and disposal, etc. Apart from just labeling products, people also love to label their personal belongings like CD’s, cameras, file folders and a lot of other things as well. Labels are printed with the help of label makers or printers. But, there was a time when people used to create paper labels with the help of typewriters. Now, with the growing advancement in the technology industry, most of the label printing has become digital. I even use label maker to mark my garden plants.
What is a Label Maker?
To put it in simple words, a label maker is a computer printer that can print labels on self-adhesive label material or card-stock. A label printer usually comes with an inbuilt keyboard and display which makes it capable of stand-alone use i.e. you need not connect it to a computer. In opposition to stand-alone use label makers, there are also label printers which need to be connected to the computer so that it can function.
Label printers are very different from ordinary printers in many aspects. But we need not get into the details of it. These simple hand-held devices come in handy at the time of creating simple labels for both office and home use. With the help of these compact devices, you can easily make labels whenever you want and wherever you want. Most of these label printers use a wide variety of labeling tapes made of paper, polymer and synthetic materials. And when it comes to the connectivity of label printers,the best label makers include RS-232, Ethernet, Parallel and USB. Though label printers are mainly used for labeling products by the manufacturers, one can use it for a plenty of other purposes as well. Like for example, you can make labels for photo boxes, children cups or for any kind of storage unit. You just have to be creative enough to find a use for it. You can also use label makers at your office to organize your tasks like labeling your file boxes with a list of dates, contents and relevant data. Depending on the purpose of your use, label printers can be of different types which we will be discussing later in this article. Different printing mechanisms like thermal, laser and impact are used by these labeling devices. But when it comes to the printing mechanism that is used commonly, thermal printing takes the cake.
Label printers come in various sizes; some are the size of small hand-held devices while others are a bit too large to be comfortably fit in hand. People who are picky about them, it’s available in a wide range of colors and different sizes. There are a plenty of brands that manufacture label printers. You can either order a label maker online or go for the traditional way of purchasing it from a store. Most of the office supply shops maintain a wide range of label printers for you to choose from. Along with label printers, they also keep a stock of label tape refills which comes in a wide range of colors. All I can say is having a label maker around the desk of your office or on the shelves at your home is a very convenient thing to have around. You never know when you may feel the need of it.
Who Should Get a Label Maker?
Well, I am not saying that the ownership of a label maker is mandatory, but they can actually prove to be a useful tool and might also help you to keep your life a bit more organized in your office and home. Wouldn’t you agree? Anyone who likes to keep things sorted can make use of a label maker. Other than the manufacturers who make use of a label maker to label their products before packaging, people like us who would prefer to keep their things organized both at the office and home can also find a use for label printers. The main purpose of labels is to provide relevant information about the thing it is being attached to. Therefore, one can use it to label their important documents or files so that it doesn’t get mixed up and it’s easy to find it out. Or you can also label those old DVDs of your family events so that you don’t have to play through all of them just to find out the right one and you can also mark the switches of fan and light so that you or your guests don’t get confused. These are only a few of the basic uses of label printers that I came up with otherwise; there are several other uses to figure out.
To sum it up people with the following requirements can make use of a label maker:
- People who want to make their lives easier because labels are helpful in identifying items quickly which saves both time and energy.
- Anyone who enjoys keeping everything organized or sorted. With the help of a label maker, the process of organizing things becomes all the more exciting. This is because the colorful labeling tapes are fun to label with.
- Working people who would prefer to keep their important files and documents sorted and readily identifiable whenever they need them. They can write the list of contents and date on the label and put it on the required files or anything alike.
To put it rightly, labels create order where there is chaos. With a label maker in hand, you will never again have to panic with your things getting lost or mixed up. It is a must have possession for people who are living in a pile of files and don’t know how to clear up the mess! The good thing about labels is that they are easily readable from far away distances as well. And if you use colorful labeling tapes, then the flashy color of the labels will make it easier for you to locate your things. All your friends will envy you when they see how organized your files and other stuff may look with the use of labels! So what are you waiting for? Go get your life organized right away with a simple device like label maker.
How We Picked And Tested?
Currently, known brands like Brother, Dymo, Casio, and Epson manufactures label printers for consumer use. After a lot of research and going through the various product lines, we decided to include three the best label makers each from Brother and Dymo and two from Epson. In the case of Dymo and Brother, we selected units from all the three lines, bottom, middle and top. Whereas Epson is considered, we selected only two units which are fit for hand-held use. Epson mainly produces label makers who are designed to be connected to a computer and print using proprietary software. Therefore, we didn’t include these PC-only printers because we wanted our pick to be similar to rest of our choices on the list. We also didn’t include products from Casio because most of their products have middling reviews by users and also the labeling tape they use is not as widely available as compared to the other three brands. Our list of selected products includes the following:
- Brother PT-D21
These 8 products have made to our list after each of the products went through a thorough evaluation by us. Each of the products was unpacked carefully, one at a time. Then I loaded batteries in each of the products along with the enclosed label tape (all the units come with at least one tape cartridge packed with them, although the Brother products come with sample tape cartridges instead of full ones). It is quite easy to load batteries and tape cartridges in the label makers. While loading the batteries and cartridges, I noticed if any special tools were needed to do so. Then, I put the label makers to test and took note of every detail like the ease of typing, the clarity of the screen, how smoothly the tape cutter cut the labels, how to change from lower case to upper and overall how well the machine worked and felt in hand.
Finally, I scrutinized the labels printed out by these devices by putting them to our handling and durability test. The labels were all clear and easily readable. But the main point about the labels is that its legibility won’t be of any use if the labels itself were too easily degradable or too difficult to apply and re-apply. To judge the efficiency of the labels I, started applying the labels to a glass jar and removing them again. First, I covered an entire glass jar with the labels. Next, I peeled them off only to check how effective the adhesive is to remove the labels. Then, I put the labels back on the jar again. After subjecting the labels to a great level of torture, I put the jar in a sink full of soapy water to check how well the labels can stand up to water and detergent.
After testing all the units minutely, we chose the Brother PT-D210 to be the most effective label maker to use. It’s a sturdy product that is comfortable in hands and can also work nicely when placed on a desk, table or countertop. This hand-held label printer from Brother is downright affordable and is intuitive to use. We chose the Brother PT-D210 among the rest because of the following reasons:
- The product comes with a standard QWERTY keyboard (including separate keys for Shift and Caps, the two functions which are usually rolled into one by the other label makers). The functions of the other keys are also spelled out to avoid any sort of confusion by the user. Whereas, other products usually have symbols marked on their other function keys to express the role of the keys which may lead to frequent mistakes.
- The label maker allows you to choose from 14 different fonts, tweak the margins, insert more than 600 symbols, add one of 97 other frames and browse through a template library without having to scroll through endless menus. You can also decide on whether you would want to get your labels printed vertically or not.
- Apart from being clearly labeled, the keys on the device feel great too. The keys allow you to type swiftly and are responsive too.
- Another reason for our pick is that the letters printed on the finished labels appear to be a little edgier and crisper than those produced by the other products. Anyone who aims for perfection will appreciate those clean and edgy lines.
- Even the labels produced by PT-D210 performed well in our handling and durability test. The labels were easily removable by pulling out from the corners and were sticky enough to be attached again. They could also stand up to water and detergent when put into the sink.
The Brother PT-D210 is easy to use and maintain. You can easily access the battery and tape compartment by pushing a clearly labeled button on the top corner of the product to release the latch. The back panel swing open to allow easy access to the compartments while it remains attached to the product along the bottom edge. Once you have loaded the batteries and the tape, it closes with a satisfying click. The best thing about PT-D210 is having the tape slot at the back of the device while other products have a separate compartment for the tape in the front. As a result, you may get faint fumes of the permanent marker while using it, because of the prominent location of the tape in the front of the device. This may be a great turn off point for people who have a highly sensitive nose. But, our PT-D210 has an upper-hand in this situation because of the unique placement of the tape slot at the back of the device. With all these extra features it makes PT-D210 special to us. Now, you may think that Brother PT-D210 may cost you a hefty price with because of all the cool features it has. Let me tell you; you couldn’t be more wrong than this because PT-D210 comes at the very pocket-friendly price of just $28.80. If you think I am kidding, go check out yourself. PT-D210 is available on all the leading online sites. Make you’re organizing a bit more organized with PT-D210.
What are the Types of Label Makers?
Apart from being available in different shapes and sizes, label makers also have different types, which are used for different purposes. And there are more than just one or two types of label printers available out there. Before you get yourself a label printer; it’s important that you should know about the different types of label makers available and which one will be the best for you. After all, it’s always good to do some research work before you go buy something new. But in this case you can save your research work for later because for your convenience, I have already started down the different types of label makers, below. Label makers can vary on their type based on their use and their printing mechanism. If you have no idea what I am talking about, here you go. Have a look!
Based on the Use:
Label printers can vary depending on the purpose they are used for.
Desktop Label Printers: Desktop label makers are quite inexpensive because they are generally designed and intended for light to medium-duty use and will take up label rolls that are 4 inches wide. They are mainly used in mid-volume healthcare and commercial environments. They usually provide fast printing speeds with a variety of useful extra features. Desktop label makers are generally recommended for high-resolution label printing, receipt printing, light manufacturing and retail inventory labeling. These label makers make an ideal choice for an office environment.
Commercial Label Printers:
Commercial label makers are designed for a bit more heavy duty purpose than the desktop label printers and can use rolls up to 8 inches wide. These types of label makers are mostly used in mid-volume industries such as manufacturing, packaging, retail, and logistics. They also make quite a good choice for smaller stores as well.
Industrial Label Printers:
By the title, it’s pretty much obvious that these label printers are used in heavy-duty and high demand industries such as asset management, inventory management, docking management and cross docking. Industrial label printers are specially designed to handle the harshest of environments including factories and centers because there is a need for printing labels on a continuous basis. The speed of these label printers may range from 2-4ips to 8ips’s, and therefore, it is important to decide that fast your printer to print out labels for your business so, that your distribution cycle is not delayed. These industrial printers are extremely durable and can print thousands of labels each day which is all of the very high standards. You also get portable industrial printers that can be carried from one working site to another. In these cases, there is always a central printer that manages the label information and shares across different locations. This saves both time and money and also helps in quality control as business doesn’t have to rely on managers to program the information into the label makers, especially in remote areas. You may think that these industrial label printers are quite expensive but when compared to the durability of the machine and the quality and number of labels it can produce it will definitely cover up the expense incurred.
Portable Label Printers:
As the name suggests, these label printers can be easily moved around without any difficulty. A portable label printer ranges from light to heavy industrial use which means they can be used both in office and factory environments.
Personal Label Printers:
Personal label printers are small hand-held devices that are used for personal label printing purposes. These types of label printers are not designed for continuous use, and therefore, they should only be used at office or home.
Based on the Printing Mechanism:
Different label printers use different printing mechanisms to print labels. Depending on the printing mechanisms used by label printers, they can be categorized as follows:
Thermal Transfer Label Printers:
Thermal Transfer (TT) printers are considered to be industry’s choice for printing high-quality and long lasting labels. These printers can range from low-cost entry-level desktop units to industrial-grade, continuous printing machines. Thermal Transfer printers make use of ink ribbons made of resin, wax or a blend of resin and wax. To get the best quality and durable labels, it is important to match the label tape material with the right ribbon. These printers use lower heat settings than most other printing devices. This allows for a wide range of adhesive options including paper, polyester, plastic, etc. The more the variety of label materials, the more you will find solutions for label applications including oil resistance, chemical resistance, cold and hot temperatures, long-distance scanning, outdoor exposure and the list continues. TT printers are a bit heavy on the pockets, though.
Direct Thermal Label Printers:
Direct Thermal (DT) printers are very much similar to Thermal Transfer printers but do not use ink ribbon. Instead, the labels printed out of this type of printers have a special layer of chemicals beneath the surface of the label that is heat-activated to make printed images. DT printers are not designed for the long-term purpose, especially where there is UV light exposure. These printers are mainly preferred because of its affordability and also for the easy set-up of the printer. Labels printed out of DT printers are usually not as vibrant and sharp as labels printed with TT printers. There are some DT printers can easily switch back and forth between thermal and thermal transfer printing.
Laser Label Printers:
Laser labels are great for utilizing standard sheetfed office or home printer. This is an easy and inexpensive way of label printing. The durability of laser labels can vary from wet or cold temperature applications for general indoor applications. These printers use dry toner which is either in full color or black that gives you the option to add color coding and graphics. Print quality is good enough even for UV light exposure but, laser printers are not recommended for heavy chemical exposure. The only drawback to these kinds of printers is that you can’t print one label at a time. The printer requires printing a whole sheet in every pass through.
Inkjet Label Printers:
Inkjet printers are the most common type of printers used by the consumers. The technology of the inkjet printers works by the process of spraying fine drops of ink on a sheet of paper. Previously, inkjet printers used to be inferior in speed and quality of printing when compared to laser printers, but gradually inkjet printers have been able to match up to laser printers. Now, even an inkjet printer can print high-quality images at a low budget. The best thing about inkjet printers is that they have improved in quality, but there has been no increment in their price.
Thus, you can see that there are a variety of label makers available that can be used to print high-quality labels. Before buying a label maker, you should always think about the purpose, it is required for. Like for example, if you need it for continuous printing and heavy-duty purposes then you should go for industrial label printers. Whereas, if you need a label printer only for light purposes, use a personal label printer or a desktop label printer. Choose your label maker accordingly and make sure that it can suit your needs.
What are the Pros and Cons?
Like every other thing, even label makers have its own share of pros and cons. Different types of label makers come with their own list of advantages and disadvantages. Below, I have listed the pros and cons of different label makers based on their category. Have a look to get a better idea about each type of label maker.
Thermal Label Printers
- Excellent, crisp print quality
- High reliability
- Easy handling
- Lower maintenance cost
- High-quality labels
- Consistent print quality
- High-speed printing
- High-quality graphics and logos
- Easy paper loading
- Flexible use of fonts
- Quality barcodes and coupons
- Can get heated up and put out more ink than needed
- The labels printed out are not as vibrant
- The ink takes long enough to Therefore, you have to be careful not to smudge it up
- Labels produced are not durable. They can’t withstand long exposure to heat or sunlight.
- Labels tend to fade
- The cost of repairing or replacing a thermal label printer is high
Laser Label Printers
- Suitable for office and home label printing
- Quality of print is high
- Low-cost consumables
- More choices of material- polyester, paper, metallic papers, fluorescent and polyethylene
- Images do not fade away when exposed to UV light
- Prints labels in sheets, resulting in waste
- Label and wristband adhesive may ooze from fuser and cause jamming
- The quality of barcodes printed are not of high quality as it requires more ink which drives up the toner cost
- Output is susceptible to smudging and toner flaking
- Media needs to be Otherwise, it may lead to bacteria build-up and smeared images if not placed properly.
Inkjet Label Printers
- Dedicated label printers available
- Wider scope of label formats
- High-quality color print
- Smudge and water resistant using approved gloss paper materials
- Lower set-up cost
- The print can fade away when exposed to UV light
- Slow printing speed
- The cost of consumables is high, in particular, the gloss paper
Now, that you know the advantages and drawbacks of each type of label printers it will be easier for you to decide which, are the things you should take into consideration before purchasing a label maker for yourself. In spite of all the cons label, makers make your belongings look more organized. And, in the case of the manufactured products, the labels make them look more attractive and provide important information about the product to the consumer. Moreover labeling things with a label maker is any day more professional than using just mere pen and tape or paper. It does not make your belongings look professional, but it is also better in many other aspects like durability and consistency as well.
Technical Information about Label Makers
Talking about the technical details of label makers, every model of label maker has its own unique technical specifications and features. No two label makers are same. Now, let’s learn the technical details of our pick label maker, i.e., Brother PT-D210.
- Model Type: Handheld or Desktop
- Tape Size: 3.5mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm
- Tape Length: 26.2’
- Tape Technology: Thermal Transfer
- LCD Display: 15 char x 1 line Graphical
- Maximum Print Resolution: 180 dpi
- Maximum Print Speed: 20mm/sec
- Cutter: Manual
- Batteries: 6 AAA
- AC Adapter: AD-24
- Number of Fonts: 14
- Number of Font Styles: 10
- Font Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
- Built-in Symbols: 617
- Horizontal Alignment: Left, Center, Right
- Vertical Printing: Yes
- Mirror Printing: Yes
- Memory: Yes (30 labels)
- Warranty: 1 year limited
- Housing Dimensions: 6.2” x 5.9” x 7.”
- Housing Weight: 1.1 lbs
- Housing Colour: White and Grey
Intermec Label Makers
Intermec is one of the renowned manufacturers of portable label printers, RFID printers, barcode label printers, and labels. In the year 2012, it was acquired by Honeywell in order to make use of one another’s patented technology with the aim of building a stronger and better data capture portfolio. The label printers produced by Intermec are specially designed to withstand harsh environments with advanced capabilities to help lower the total cost while maintaining the quality. The advanced features include the latest communications options, secure wireless connectivity, and RFID readiness as well as support for multiple printer languages, configurations, and interfaces.
The top features and benefits of Intermec label printers may include the following:
- Easy-Use Design: Intermec printers are easy to operate and provide easy access to maintenance functions such as replacing printheads or changing label rolls.
- Smart Printing: Intermec industrial printers execute user-defined programs that help in improving accuracy and efficiency. Smart printers are capable of operating additional hardware such as scanners, conveyors, and other printers. The printers provide changes as needed with the program and eliminating the need for a computer.
- Precise Results: Intermec Smart Printers come with Automatic Barcode Adjustment. This allows the printer to automatically re-adjust the position of the barcode so as to produce a readable label, even if the printhead
Intermec printers will make an ideal choice for users who are looking for high-speed quality printing. Intermec printers such as PX4i and PX6i are designed to perform with excellence even in demanding environments. The PX series by Intermec is one of the best lines of printers produced by them with a printing speed of 12 inches per second. The PX series can also adapt easily to the changing applications. In short, Intermec manufacturers industry level printers for its consumers.
Greateam Label Tapes
Label tapes are like the heart of label makers, without which a label printer is useless. In the true sense, both need each other to produce labels. Label tapes come in a variety of colors and sizes which are ultimately put into the label maker to produce quality labels. Greateam is one such brand under BoSai Technology Co. Ltd which is one of the leading producers of tape cassettes for the label printer consumables industry. The brand Greateam was founded under them last year in 2016. Greateam produces high-quality label tapes which are available in packs of 3, 6 and 9. They produce both laminated and non-laminated label tapes for use and have got a wide selection of colors to choose from. The label tapes produced by Greateam are compatible with all the big label printer manufacturer companies like the Brother, Dymo, etc. The company also provides discounts on almost all of their products. Greateam label tapes make an ideal choice for everyday labeling for both indoor and outdoor purposes including hot and cold environments. This recently launched brand is already doing quite well in the market, and at this rate, Greateam is sure to become one of the leading manufacturers of label tapes.
Well, I guess that is enough information about label tapes for you to know and with all this knowledge about label makers I, bet you will never look at the labels on the products in the same way again. Now, when you buy a label printer or label tapes you already know what the things to consider, which brands to go for are, what features to look for etc. What are you waiting for? Go, order yourself a label printer and start labeling! And, if you already own one try to find new uses for it like think of the things that you could label with it. I hope, this article provided you what you were looking for.