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Shipping Label Printers - What do I need to know?

Shipping label printers are a specific type of label printer designed primarily for printing labels used on packages and shipments.

These printers are commonly used by e-commerce companies, retailers, logistics companies and anyone who needs to print shipping labels efficiently. At first it seems a simple matter, but you will have to take it into account since the label will be the reference to follow so that the package arrives correctly at the destination, let’s start at the beginning, let’s talk about the importance and what labels are for:

What information does a shipping label provide?

  • Recipient Identification: the label shows the recipient’s address, allowing the package to be delivered accurately to the correct location.
  • Sender Identification: some labels also include the sender’s information, making it easier to return the package in case of non-delivery.
  • Contact Information: may include phone numbers or e-mail addresses of the sender and recipient to facilitate communication in case of delivery problems.
  • Barcode: Many shipping labels include a barcode that contains information about the package, such as tracking number, type of shipping service, and other relevant data. This allows for quick and accurate scanning at distribution centers and delivery points, making the process more efficient.
  • Tracking Information: The label often contains a tracking number that allows shippers and recipients to track the status and location of the package during transit.
  • Service and Carrier Information: This may show the type of shipping service used (e.g., standard, express, international) and any special instructions related to delivery. You may also include the carrier’s name with which the package will be shipped.
  • Security Barcodes: Some labels include security barcodes that help ensure the package’s authenticity and prevent unauthorized tampering.
  • Regulatory Information: For international shipments, the label may include customs and regulatory compliance information, such as package contents and declared value.
  • Warning Information: They may include specific warning labels, such as “Fragile” “This side up” “Keep refrigerated” or other important instructions for handling the package.
  • Accompanying Documentation: In some cases, labels may include additional documentation, such as invoices or shipping documents, which are necessary for customs clearance or to provide detailed information about the contents of the package.

Now that we have seen all the information that a label can include, the important part is choosing the printer that will make those labels print correctly.

What should I take into account when choosing a label printer?

First of all, it must be compatible with the different carrier services to be able to print labels directly from shipping platforms or shipment management software, they must also be able to print barcodes in order to efficiently process packages for proper tracking.

They must be prepared for periods of high demand, so their speed is important for high seasonal shipment traffic, and they must be able to connect to any computer and management system so they can be used via USB and in many cases wirelessly.

Last but not least, they must be able to print in self-adhesive format, so that the labels can be easily affixed directly to the package without the need for tape to secure them.

In terms of printing methods, there are direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing. How do they differ?

The main difference is that a printer using the direct thermal printing method will not need ink to print, as it does so using heat. You will be able to tell the difference because the thermal type has a letter D after the name and the thermal transfer type has a T.

Both are good options and you can choose the one that best suits what you are looking for. We are coming to the end of the article but not before looking at the different printer options and some of their features.

1. Pitney Bowes

These label printers are a great choice for their features and price/quality comparison. For example, the PitneyShip™ Cube is a multi-purpose device designed for businesses. That with the installation of an app on your mobile, you can weigh, print, ship and track. The thermal label printer can print labels at 300 dpi on any 4×6-inch thermal label roll.

2. Zebra Technologies

Specialization – Zebra Technologies is a leading manufacturer of label and barcode printing solutions. It specializes in industrial and commercial printers used in a variety of applications, such as inventory management, asset tracking, and product labeling.

Printing Technologies: Zebra offers thermal transfer (such as the GK420t) and direct thermal (such as the GK20d) printers. and is known for its print quality and durability, which will be replaced by the top-of-the-line model (ZD421).

Other data (GK420) :

– The resolution is 203 dpi / 8 dots per mm.
– It has a standard memory of 4MB.
– Print width: 104 mm / 4.09 in.
– Print length: 990 mm / 39.0 in.
– Maximum print speed: 127 mm / 5 in. per second.
– No official driver for Mac, installation via an external app is possible.

3. DYMO

Specialty: DYMO is known for its desktop and portable shipping label printers, which are widely used for office labeling, home organization, and file labeling. They also offer products for shipping label printing. DYMO printers typically use direct thermal printing technology, making them easy to use without the need for ink or toner.

The DYMO 450 Duo is a great choice as it can print up to 71 labels per minute.

Other relevant facts about this printer are:

– Resolution is 300 per inch / 11.8 dots per mm.
– Print width: 2.25 in. 56 mm.
– Print length: to be determined by the user.
– Compatible for both Windows and Mac systems.

In addition to these brands, you can find others (Epson, Casio …) as the offer in this market is wide, depending on what you are looking for you can select from a range of label printers at different prices, it all depends on the volume of printing that has your e-commerce and the characteristics of the label to print.

We cannot finish this article without talking about the labels themselves, which must have a specific format so that the shipment can be made, these formats may vary depending on the company with which you make the transport. In Shipcloud we generally work with PDF A5 (148 mm x 210 mm) and A6 (105 mm x 148 mm).

Other common formats are ZPL of different characteristics; such as ZPL2 4X6in 203 dpi or ZPL2 4×6 in 300 dpi. The best thing to do is to inform yourself beforehand about the requirements of the label in order not to have any problem with the printing of any type of format and you can choose a printer according to what you need.

☝️ Now that your knowledge of shipping label printers is broader, if you want to deepen your knowledge in the world of logistics, download our whitepapers to become an expert in the sector.

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