When we’re printing barcode labels, many of us like to save on costs, so we buy cheaper labels and printing supplies. But we don’t realize that the money we save on up-front costs will often turn into much higher costs in the long run.

This is because cheaper labels and printing supplies are usually made with low-grade materials that aren’t consistently manufactured and can actually damage our printers. They can also cause major issues with print quality, label adhesion, and barcode scannability.

In the end, using cheaper supplies adds up to costly printer servicing and repairs and disruptions to scanning and data capture workflows that often far outweigh any savings we got by spending less money at the outset.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons why cheaper barcode labels and supplies cause these problems. We’ll also talk about how to avoid them by spending a bit more to buy high-quality and pre-tested labels and supplies that are properly matched to your application and needs.

Investing in the right supplies is the best way to minimize your labeling costs and ensure seamless data capture processes.  The long-term cost-effectiveness has proven during our 20-plus years of experience in recommending and delivering barcoding solutions across a wide range of industries and use cases. So let’s get started.

Cheap barcode labels and supplies cause a range of costly and damaging issues because they’re designed for low up-front costs and not quality printing and adhesion. They’re also not usually made to match specific labeling application needs, and they’re not designed to minimize wear on your printheads, which is where costly damage and replacements come into play.

How can you tell if your supplies are destined to cause more harm?

One of the first problems is low print quality, whether it’s blurry or faded barcode labels, or some other quality issues. This occurs due to the rougher surfaces of cheap barcode labels, which cause excessive printhead wear.

To compensate for poor print quality, you usually have to make a lot of printer adjustments that require more ink or ribbon, which uses up your supplies. But your printhead still gets worn out prematurely, which can cost you thousands of dollars in early replacements.

Next comes heat sensitivity, especially if you’re using direct thermal printing. Cheap labels are often sensitive to heat and create more print quality issues, requiring more printer adjustments and wasted supplies.

Additionally, if you’re using cheap, low-quality labels, your label adhesives can easily fail, meaning your labels don’t stick. In the end, you can end up with damaged and unreadable labels due exposure to sunlight, moisture, water or chemicals.

If your labels need to adhere and be readable in these conditions, low-cost supplies won’t cut it. You need specialized label materials, adhesives, and printer ribbons, or you’ll end up with smudged, smeared, damaged, scratched, or otherwise unscannable labels that can even fall off.

To avoid all of these issues and minimize long-term labeling costs, it’s always best to choose quality and long-term savings over up-front costs. For true cost savings, it is imperative that you make sure your labels and printing supplies match your application requirements.

What can you do about this problem?

One simple way to do that is to invest in the best barcode labels and supplies. At SK&T, one of our esteemed partners is Zebra Technologies. Zebra, for example, manufactures all of its products with ISO-certified quality processes and rigorous pre-testing to ensure proper adhesion, scannability, durability, and minimal printhead wear.

At SK&T, we carry over 500 stock Zebra printing supplies products, and when you use Zebra printers and agree to use Zebra supplies exclusively, you also get 100% guaranteed protection against premature printhead replacements.

To learn more, contact our labeling experts at SK&T for pricing and recommendations.