So you’re ready to automate a process by using barcode labeling solutions, but you’re not sure where to start? The following are some guidelines to help you determine what is best for your process.
- What human-readable information do you want on the label?
- If the labeled item becomes lost, will a person need to be able to determine what it is and where it goes by reading the label? Also, consider your intended audience and pick a font and size that is appropriate.
- What machine-readable data do you want on the label?
- A linear barcode can comfortably encode 12-15 characters. Beyond this quantity the barcode becomes too large to read. Answering this question will also help you decide what symbology to use. If you are using a linear barcode, determine if it needs to be oriented as a picket fence or as a ladder. You should investigate how the barcode reader will be oriented and match that if possible.
- What graphics do you want on the label?
- These first three questions will help determine the size of the label. Sizes typically go up to 4” x 6”. You also have to verify that there is space on the item being labeled for the size you choose. Label cost increases with label size. Another consideration in label size is how often someone must replace the labels in the printer. Typically, the smaller the label, the more labels per roll.
- What is the lifespan of the label?
- Some labels only have to last hours while others must last years. Labels with a short lifespan can use direct thermal printing on paper labels. Labels with a long lifespan are better handled with thermal transfer printing on synthetic labels.
- To what material will the label be applied? Is the surface flat, smooth, rough, curved, etc.? Do you want to be able to remove and possibly reapply the label?
- This helps you determine the type of adhesive you need. What sticks to metal may not stick to glass or dusty cardboard.
- What environment will the label be subjected to?
- Cold items may need a different adhesive than those at room temperature. If the label will be outside in sunlight, you may want to use thermal transfer printing on a synthetic label. Different synthetic materials stand up differently to exposure to chemicals.
By answering these questions, you can determine the best barcode labeling solutions for your application.