Retail Print & Labelling

label printer is a computer printer that prints on self-adhesive label material and/or card-stock (tags). A label printer with built-in keyboard and display for stand-alone use (not connected to a separate computer) is often called a label maker.Label printers are different from ordinary printers because they need to have special feed mechanisms to handle rolled stock, or tear sheet (fanfold) stock. Label printers have a wide variety of applications, including retail supply chain management, retail price marking, packaging labels, blood and laboratory specimen marking, and fixed assets management.

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Manufacturing & Logistics IT December Reference Annual 2020

Manufacturing & Logistics IT December Reference Annual 2020

Welcome to the December 2020 edition of Manufacturing & Logistics IT. In this edition we feature a Special Technology Report looking in depth at the latest developments in the world of Printing & Labelling technology.

Also included is our 2020 Special Report round-up, featuring reports on Transportation Management and AIDC/Mobile Computing.

Brother UK report: channel set to play key role in supporting to food retailers to meet new food safety regulations

Brother UK report: channel set to play key role in supporting to food retailers to meet new food safety regulations

Channel resellers are set to play a key role in supporting food retailers in meeting the upcoming Natasha’s Law food safety guidelines, according to a new report by business technology solutions provider Brother UK.

Ivanti Wavelink enhances printer management capabilities for the supply chain

Ivanti Wavelink enhances printer management capabilities for the supply chain

Ivanti Wavelink, the supply chain business unit of Ivanti, has announced Ivanti Wavelink Avalanche now offers several new management and discovery capabilities for Zebra’s ruggedised thermal and barcode printers for the supply chain.

IT decision makers investing in tech to prioritise productivity - Brother UK

IT decision makers investing in tech to prioritise productivity - Brother UK

UK firms are investing in digital infrastructure to boost their productivity in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research from Brother UK, the business technology solutions provider.

Konica Minolta withdraws from Drupa 2021 while engaging with customers in new and creative ways

Konica Minolta withdraws from Drupa 2021 while engaging with customers in new and creative ways

Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe has announced its decision to withdraw from its participation at drupa 2021 to follow the path of new, tailored formats of engaging with its customer base.

Zebra launches the ZQ630 mobile printer

Zebra launches the ZQ630 mobile printer

Having grown in popularity over the past 5-10 years, Zebra has launched the newest addition to its printer line: the Zebra ZQ630.

Konica Minolta appoints Mark Ash as director of its Professional Print & Industrial Print Division in the UK

Konica Minolta appoints Mark Ash as director of its Professional Print & Industrial Print Division in the UK

The CEO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd, Rob Ferris, has appointed Mark Ash as the new director of Professional & Industrial Print.

Xaar 2002 printhead for effective print performance straight out of the box

Xaar 2002 printhead for effective print performance straight out of the box

Xaar, the inkjet printing technology company, has launched a highly advanced, simple to install printhead, following close collaboration with its global OEMs.

Maturity model offers framework to assess labelling effectiveness

Maturity model offers framework to assess labelling effectiveness

Loftware, the enterprise labelling and artwork management solutions provider, has announced the Enterprise Labeling Maturity Model, which offers a methodology  to evaluate the current effectiveness of a company’s enterprise labelling.

Xerox Adaptive CMYK+ Kit for Xerox Versant expands colour palette to more than a million

Xerox Adaptive CMYK+ Kit for Xerox Versant expands colour palette to more than a million

Xerox has announced the Xerox Adaptive CMYK+ Kit for Xerox Versant, claimed to be the print market’s first adaptive technology kit that adds seven specialty colours to an existing production press, enabling instant digital print enhancements.

Retail Print & Labelling

Global enterprises are looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency and accuracy in their supply chains. To remain competitive, distribution centres, manufacturers, and logistics providers must change the way they label and track goods. Success depends on maximizing efficiency throughout all supply chain operations—front to back. Exploiting mobile labelling technology is fundamental to achieving optimal efficiency.

Wireless bar code and radio frequency identification (RFID) label printing is widely recognised by major retailers globally as an essential technology for enhancing store operations. The ability to print real-time information in the aisle, on demand, saves time, effort, and money—creating competitive advantages.

Mobile printing gives users the flexibility to print materials on demand wherever they may be. Seamless mobility can drive new business processes that improve worker productivity, labelling accuracy, and responsiveness to customer needs.

RFID smart label
RFID Smart label printer/encoders use media that has an RFID inlay (chip and antenna combination) embedded within the label material. An RFID encoder inside the printer writes data to the tag by radio frequency transmission. The transmission is focused for the specific location of the tag within the label. Bar codes, text, and graphics are printed as usual. Printable RFID tags contain a low-power integrated  circuit (IC) attached to an antenna and are enclosed  with protective material (label media) as determined  by the application. On-board memory within the IC stores data. The IC then transmits/receives information through the antenna to an external reader, called an interrogator. High frequency (HF) tags use antennas made of a small coil of wires, while ultrahigh frequency (UHF) tags contain dipole antennas with a matching wire loop.

Bar code symbols may be produced in a variety of ways: by direct marking, as with laser etching or with ink jet printing; or, more commonly by imaging or printing the bar code symbol onto a separate label. Precision of bar code printing is critical to the overall success of a bar-coding solution.

On-site Printing

On-site printing generally takes place at or near the point of use. The data encoded is usually variable, entered by an operator through a keyboard or downloaded from the host computer. On-site printing most often involves purchasing label-design software as well as printer hardware. Bar code printers come with their own proprietary programming languages that support all the standard symbologies, and they are capable of printing simple data-static or serialized bar code labels on their own.

However, labels that require additional formatted text, graphics, or multiple fields will require a separate label-design software package. Currently, more than 100 packages exist that are designed for a wide range of platforms and have a wider range of features. Once the purview of programmers, label design can now be accomplished by non-programmers via easy-to-use WYSIWYG graphical interfaces.

The most common bar code print technologies for on-site use are:

Direct Thermal — Heating elements in the printhead are selectively heated to form an image made from overlapping dots on a heat-sensitive substrate.

Thermal Transfer — Thermal transfer printing is a digital printing process in which material is applied to paper (or some other material) by melting a coating of ribbon so that it stays glued to the material on which the print is applied. Thermal transfer technology uses much the same type of printhead as direct thermal, except that an intervening ribbon with resin-based or wax-based ink is heated and transfers the image from the ribbon to the substrate. It contrasts with direct thermal printing where no ribbon is present in the process.

Barcode printers with thermal-transfer and direct thermal technology produce accurate, high-quality images with excellent edge definition.

Dot Matrix Impact — A moving printhead, with one or more vertical rows of hammers, produces images by multiple passes over a ribbon. These passes create rows of overlapping dots on the substrate to form an image. Serial dot matrix printers produce images character by character; high-volume dot matrix line printers print an entire line in one pass.

Ink Jet — This technology uses a fixed printhead with a number of tiny orifices that project tiny droplets of ink onto a substrate to form an image made up of overlapping dots. Ink jet printers are used for in-line direct marking on products or containers.

Laser (Xerographic) — The image is formed on an electrostatically charged, photo-conductive drum using a controlled laser beam. The charged areas attract toner particles that are transferred and fused onto the substrate.

Off-site Printing
Generally speaking, commercial label printers may use flexographic, letterpress, offset lithographic, rotogravure, photocomposition, hot stamping, laser etching, or digital processes to produce a consistently higher-grade label than those labels produced by on-site printers.

If the content of the bar code symbol is known ahead of use, a commercial label supplier is generally the best choice. However, there are tradeoffs. Commercially supplied labels have to be ordered, stocked, and placed in inventory. A business with frequent product line changes and/or label changes will have to weigh its options carefully.

Editorial: +44 (0)1892 536363
Publisher: +44 (0)208 440 0372
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