Hospitals, warehouses, retailers, HVAC jobs, and your average medium-sized business. What do they all have in common? One way or another, they all need to track assets of some sort. And when tracking assets is a priority, barcodes and thermal printers are often the go-to technology.
But each application calls for a different kind of printer. Which printer is the best for which application? What’s the difference between each of them?  Well, that’s what we’re about to dig into. So let’s start with the basics.
The four main kinds of barcode printers are:

  • Industrial printers
  • Mid-Range printers
  • Desktop printers
  • Mobile printers

Zebra 110Xi4Industrial Printers:

These thermal printers are the juggernauts in the game – think of them as the work trucks of the industry. Often encased in metal frames, industrial printers are built to withstand industrial environments and operate around the clock. With extremely low failure rates, printers like Zebra’s 110Xi4 4” Thermal Printer are about as reliable as they get. Oh yeah, and some can even print RFID tags…
Industrial printers are great in industrial warehouses and large distribution environments that constantly print shipping labels 24 hours, 7 days a week. Thermal printers have very few moving parts – and with the durability of an industrial printer, the chances of the printer going down and delaying a shipment is slim to none.

Mid-Range Printers:

If industrial printers are the trucks of the industry, mid-range printers are SUVs. Medium-sized and durable, mid-range printers bring a mix of versatility and longevity. These printers are similar to industrial printers but more compact and lack the metal frame – trading durability for a lower cost printer.
Mid-Range printers are frequently used in warehouses and distribution environments with less extreme environments than those that require industrial printers. These printers can also be used in large hospitals to track patient medical records and lab samples.

BFC8DF5B-0223-4612-A719-FC744A572B73-400x300Desktop Printers:

Going with the car comparisons again, desktop printers are the compact cars of the industry.  Far smaller than the industrial printers, desktop printers are a great fit for low- to medium-sized print applications. While industrial and mid-ranged printers can print labels 8” wide, desktop printers often use 2” or 4” labels and smaller rolls of thermal paper.
Compact and easy to use, desktop printers are great for small and medium-sized businesses and retail environments. Low volume applications such as printing receipts and labeling small quantities of assets are ideal and effective with desktop printers.

Zebra ZQ520Mobile Printers:

Following suit, mobile printers are the motorcycles of the industry. Even smaller than desktop printers, mobile printers are great for on-the-move applications. Rather than handwriting receipts or walking over to a printer, mobile printers can attach to the hip and pair up with a mobile computer for a completely mobile application.
Mobile printers are ideal for field service, HVAC, and mobile retail applications. With a mobile printer, never again will a field worker need to say “I’ll send you the receipt in the mail” or scribble down a makeshift receipt.
Do you have an application that needs printing and you’re not too sure what printer is right for you? No problem, that’s what we’re here for. Contact our excellent customer service team at or at (800) 830-9523.