How To Pick The Right Barcode Label & Why It’s So Important

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Why Label Selection Is Crucial To Your Operations

Determining how to pick the right barcode label to match your printer and application can be difficult with so many options on the market. When you use thermal label printers to produce barcode labels, the last thing you want to worry about is printing issues. Surprisingly, one of the biggest reasons they occur has nothing to do with your printer. One of the most common reasons new customers come to SK&T with printing issues is that they are not using the correct labels and thermal printing supplies.

Your printer selection is important. Printing issues can occur because your hardware isn’t up to the task, you’re not keeping your printer clean enough, or your printhead is wearing out. However, common culprits in print quality issues are often because of your labels and supply choices. If you’re not matching the right products to the right labeling application and the right printer, you’ll be faced with a world of problems.

For example, the wrong label and supply combination, or the use of cheaply made solutions can lead to inconsistent print quality, problems with print darkness, smearing, fading, and even label adhesion failures. 

Ultimately, your labels and supplies can make or break your print jobs, so you need to be sure you’re using the right products for your specific label application. Factors to consider are the environment, type of usage, durability needed, and compliance standards to live up to. 

It’s important to match your labels to your use case. Labels are essential in so many industries today, and they need to be different to accommodate the needs of those industries. From healthcare to warehousing, to retail, distribution, or manufacturing, labels aren’t just a one size fits all.

How To Pick The Right Barcode Label – Things to Consider

In different industries and use cases, there is huge variation in labeling applications, and environmental factors such as:

  • indoor/outdoor conditions 
  • temperature
  • moisture
  • scratching/rubbing
  • the presence of chemicals
  • sunlight 

All factors play a role in terms of print quality, label adhesion, and durability.

Additionally, many supply chain organizations require multi-faceted labeling strategies and printing solutions designed to support different types of products that they produce or process, their palletization or tracking, customer requirements, and even the technologies they use to track and trace assets.

For example, automotive suppliers or manufacturers might need to label, tag, and track everything from pallets or raw materials to thousands of parts arriving from suppliers and finished goods. Ultimately, with so much variation in what needs to be tracked and in what applications and conditions, they may need to apply dozens of different combinations of labels and thermal printing supplies to get the right results and meet specific labeling requirements. Otherwise, labels may not be the right size for what you’re labeling, they may not adhere to the surface, they may not be readable or scannable at the right range or when you or your customers need them to be, and you could end up with downtime or non-compliance issues due to adhesion failures, label damage, and more.

It’s also important to understand that your label selection also impacts your printer performance and total cost of ownership (TCO). For example, using the right labels and supplies combinations, and investing in quality solutions will help you prevent adhesive buildup on printer parts and premature printhead failures. It will also help you reduce the frequency of label reprints, reorders, and wasteful spending.

How to Pick the Right Barcode Labels – Work With An Expert

To get the right results, you need to choose the right label with the right combination of components along with the right type of printer ribbon.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert in barcode labels and supplies to ensure that you’re matching the right solutions to each job. We have labeling experts at SK&T who have decades of combined experience, and they can work with you and our partners, such as Zebra, to help you find the right matches for your specific applications.

We have some great quick references and resources to help you identify these choices, including label selection guides that help you quickly find the right solutions. But we also provide complimentary consulting, recommendations, and advice, and you can even outsource the whole label and supplies selection process to our experts.

To learn more and request a label and supplies selection guide or get professional assistance, contact our team at SK&T for more expert advice and specific recommendations. We’d be glad to help!