A Beginner’s Guide To Label Makers

Having a neat and organized office or home can considerably improve your productivity and also make things much more beautiful. However, it is difficult to remember and keep track of where everything goes.

That is where label makers can make your life simpler and more convenient. Label makers can make it easier for you and your family or staff to know and remember where certain things need to go.

But, keep in mind that having a broken or obsolete label maker can defeat the purpose of buying one in the first place. Also, it is worth noting that not all label makers are easy to operate, and some models are just better buys compared to others.

 Although a majority of modern label makers use a conventional thermal printing mechanism rather than ink cartridges, users would still need to replace the labeling tape. It is why it is worth considering the price of the labeling tape and also how long a roll would last.

What Is A Label Maker?

A label maker is a digital printer that can print labels on both card-stock (tags) and adhesive label materials. A label maker usually has a display and integrated keyboard for separate use. It is why you do not have to connect it to a different computer.

A label maker is different from a standard printer as it requires a unique feed mechanism for handling tear sheet or rolling stock. Keep in mind there are a variety of connectivity methods for label makers. Some of them are RS-232 serial, parallel, USB, Ethernet and other types of wireless.

Nowadays, label makers have a broad range of applications, such as supply chain, packaging labels, price marking in the retail industry, blood labeling and marking for laboratory specimens, as well as fixed asset management.

A label maker uses a wide variety of labeling materials, such as paper and polymer materials made of synthetic plastic. Label makers use several kinds of printing mechanisms, such as impact and laser. However, keep in mind that thermal printer mechanism is perhaps the most popular. Also, there are two main types of thermal label makers.

A direct thermal label maker makes use of heat sensitive papers, which resembles thermal fax papers.

However, the problem with thermal labels is that they usually fade with time (typically within six to twelve months); this is particularly true if they are exposed to direct sunlight, heat or chemical vapors, which can shorten their life. As a result, thermal labels tend to be used primarily for short-term applications, like shipping labels.

Thermal transfer label makers, on the other hand, use heat for transferring ink to the label from the ribbon for a more lasting and durable print. Some of the latest models of thermal transfer label makers can do direct thermal printing as well, which makes the job more convenient and more straightforward.

Also, keep in mind that the use of PVC vinyl could considerably increase the life of the label. You can see it in industry safety labels and pipe markers on the market nowadays. You can use three main types of ribbon availabled with a majority of thermal transfer label makers.

Out of the three, the wax is easily the most famous as it offers a little smudge resistance. It is why wax is appropriate for semi-gloss and matte paper labels.

On the other hand, you can also use a combination of resin and wax as it is smudge resistant, which makes it well-suited for some synthetic labels and semi-gloss paper. Finally, resin alone is chemical and scratch resistant, making it suitable for a variety of coated synthetic labels.

Keep in mind that when you print on continuous labeling stock, it is likely that the print location may shift a little from one label to another.

To ensure proper registration of the label area with the relevant target media, a majority of label makers now use a smart sensor that can detect a notch, gap, line or a perforation between various labels. It allows the label maker to adjust the input of the label stock, ensuring that the label print aligns with the media.

What Is It Used For And Who Uses It?

If you want to make organizing and de-cluttering your life a breeze, few tools are better than label makers. You will be surprised to know that you can label so many things in your home or office. So get ready, it is time to transform your life.

Spices And Ingredients

When you work with restricted space in the kitchen, it is usually more sensible to have specific foods stored in the open. In that case, most people tend to transfer spices and ingredients into the glass or plastic containers, which make them look more display-friendly.

It is where a label maker can come in handy as you could quickly tie together your entire selection of ingredients, condiments, and spices by rapidly labeling them with your label maker. Tagging food items makes it very easy to identify the contents of your jars and containers; also, it is a trendy and unique look right now!

Organize Your Flash Drives

Perhaps your office presentation is on one flash drive, while your vacation photographs are on another. And maybe you have little idea what you will find on the rest. You can label all your flash drives accordingly and avoid the hassle. If you do that, you will quickly find what you need in just a fraction of the time.

Keep Track Of Leftovers

At times, you have too much casserole, pasta, chili or lasagna to know what you should do with it. The best thing you can do is store and label your leftovers and freeze them, rather than tossing them in the trash can. Here is how you can reheat the leftovers for better taste.

Also, do not forget to add the labeling date so you would know when it is time to toss them away. You can do the same whenever you buy more fish or meat than you could serve at a single time. Another benefit of labeling these items is that it would take the guessing game out when you have to identify whether the frozen block you stored was turkey or chicken.

House Plants

A lot of people tend to discard tags that often come with the house or office plants, only to realize, just a couple of weeks later, that they cannot remember the name of the plant. It can make it hard for them to take proper care of their plants. But, you will not have to face this problem if you use your reliable label maker to label all of your plants adequately.

Another fun aspect of labeling is that you can quickly turn this activity into a great learning experience, by labeling your plants with their scientific names!

Office Staples

Instead of writing everything in a folder, you can label your binder clip and then use it to arrange and group various items. We assure you it would last much longer. You may write the name of a specific person or group, or have particular clips such as "Urgent," “To File" or "Please Return," for sending the message instead. This method is not only organized, and it is efficient as well.

Closet Shelves

Most people know that closets are quite challenging to keep organized even at the best of times. However, not having a proper system for what you want to can make this task next to impossible.

It is where a label maker can come to your rescue, making your job less time-consuming and more straightforward! By placing different labels along the edges of your shelves, you can identify what items should go in different areas of your closet.

Also, you can use a label maker in any frequently used storage place, such as pantries, linen closets, or even fridges.

Categorize Children’s Toys

You can say farewell to clear or transparent containers once and for all. Instead, invest in durable and cute storage boxes which can match or complement your home, and place a convenient label on the lid.

You can arrange your children’s toys in a variety of categories such as “Legos,” “Vehicles” and “Barbie.”This way you will not have to spend hours looking for Mr. Potato Head’s right ear again. Just imagine how much time you can save!

Mark Cheese Plates

Rather than spending a lot of money on a group of cheese markers, which cannot change depending on what food you are serving, try this fantastic trick from The Container Store.

All you need to do is use your label makers for printing out the names of various cheeses you plan to serve for the night. Make a pair of matching labels for each type of cheese and then sandwich them on the tip of a toothpick.

Learn A New Language

Your label maker can help you when it comes to learning a new language as well! You can look up a set of words and phrases for various everyday household things in Spanish, French, German or any other language you would like to learn.

Then use the label maker for labeling the items around the house with those terms. Seeing a phrase like “la salle de bain” on a daily basis on your bathroom door will help you get familiar with the language much quicker!

Types Of Printing Used In Label Makers

There are three main types of printing techniques used in label makers. These techniques are:

Laser

Laser printing is a unique and digital electrostatic printing process. The process generates high-quality graphics and text as well as moderate-quality photos. It achieves this by frequently passing a beam of laser back and forth over negatively-charged drums or cylinders to produce a differentially charged graphic or text image.

The cylinder then selectively gathers charged powdered ink and transmits the image onto paper or other material. The page is heated to fuse the graphic or text permanently. Keep in mind that just like digital photocopiers, a laser printer uses a xerographic printing process.

But, note that laser printing is different from most analog copiers as the image or text is generated by directly scanning the relevant medium across a printer's photoreceptor. It allows laser printing technique to copy image and graphics more quickly compared to most photocopiers. 

Laser labels are perfect for using your regular sheet-fed office or home printer. It is why label printing through this method is both inexpensive and easy. Laser labels available in sheets are often more affordable and are an ideal choice for on-demand, on-site printing.

Also, bear in mind that the durability of most laser labels varies from standard indoor applications to cold or wet temperature applications.

A laser sheet uses a dry toner in black or any other full color, giving you the flexibility and convenience to add color coding and graphics. Although the durability of print is quite excellent, even on exposure to UV light, you can't use most laser labels when it comes to harsh chemical exposure.

Impact

Impact printing creates an image or graphic by using a mechanism that physically presses inked ribbons against the paper or page. It causes the ink to transfer to the sheet in the desired shape and form.

A majority of impact printers used in label printing are usually loud; however, they are still in use today due to their exceptional ability to work remarkably with multipart forms.

For high-speed impacts needed to produce impact prints, these printers utilize a tiny electromagnet to work the removable print heads. Impact printing uses either a set of pins that move in the direction of the print surface or a wheel that spins to access the relevant character.

When an impact printer receives relevant data, logic boards present on the printer interpret this data and generate a set of electrical impulses. These electrical impulses then make their way to the print head, where electromagnets convert them into movement of the print head.

Thermal

Thermal printing is an innovative digital printing process. It generates a printed text or image through the selective heating of thermal paper or coated thermochromic paper when the page passes over the print head.  This coating gets black in specific areas when it is heated and produces an image.

Also, note that dual-color thermal printing can print black and an extra color (usually red). . Thermal printing is entirely different when compared to other printing methods that often use a heat-sensitive ribbon rather than heat-sensitive paper.

Thermal printers are the preferred choice in the industry when it comes to printing high-quality and long-lasting labels. Thermal printers could vary from entry-level and low-cost desktop models to continuous printing and industrial-grade systems.

As a thermal printer utilizes ink ribbons that are resin, wax or a mix of resin and wax, it is crucial that you match your label materials carefully with the correct label ribbon. It will help you get the best durability and print quality. The best part of the thermal printing process is that it is cheaper than what you may think.

Types Of Label Makers

The three main types of label makers are:

Desktop Label Makers

A desktop label maker is for light-duty to medium-duty use. The label maker has a roll of stock which is up to four inches wide. Desktop label makers are inexpensive and quiet. On the other hand, commercial versions can usually hold much larger rolls of stock (about eight inches wide). They are ideal for medium-volume printing.

These label makers are incredibly easy to operate. You can hook them to the computer just within a few moments. Install the suitable software and decide on what text or image that will be on your label and choose the correct size for printing.

Industrial Label Makers

An industrial label maker is for heavy-duty and continuous use in distribution centers, warehouses, and factories. Also, portable versions of industrial label printers are for heavy-duty use on location.

These models are often handheld and are available with industrial hard cases. You can use these label makers for a variety of purposes such as labeling for construction sites, electrical installations, and production floors.

Keeping everyone safe and eliminating accidents in a work facility is one of the most vital aspects of operating a business. With industrial label makers, you could mark various kinds of pipes with the relevant information. You may also label specific containers that have hazardous or toxic materials.

Portable Label Makers

Portable label makers are small or handheld desktop devices. These label makers are for home and small business use. As you can expect, the price of these label makers is usually quite low, which makes them popular among low-volume users; however, keep in mind that they typically print on specialized tapes, such as thermal, which can be expensive.

List Of Ways You Can Use A Label Maker

Label makers are a favorite organization tool for most homeowners. It is because they are practical and easy to use and help locate what you need on time.

  • You can use chalkboard labels for temporary labeling. They are easy to find and are perfect for bins or jars in your home
  • You can use bookplate labels for organizing bins and baskets. They will give your home a more refined look, and you can switch them quickly when you need to
  • You can also use label makers for marking tabs in your budget binder or home binder
  • You can use the label maker to come up with pretty and custom gift tags, especially for the holiday season
  • You can also use label makers to sort your electrical cables and cords

What Type Of Paper Or Cartridges Does A Label Maker Use?

Two main kinds of label paper are available in the market. The first one is matte or glossy thermal polyester, paper rolls or polypropylene that can fit inside your label maker that has heat-imprinting print heads.

The second is paper strip rolls fashioned from vinyl that can fit inside your label maker that has impact print heads and ink-ribbon cartridges. Each type of paper tends to generate a different style of labels for particular identification purposes.

How Easy Is It To Refill Tape Or Cartridges For Label Makers?

You can quickly refill the tape for your label maker by following these steps.

  • Carefully pull the spool apart. The part that has the spindle must be in your left hand
  • Using the right hand, pick the roll of labels, placing it close to the spool
  • Now slowly slide the roll on your spool, while pushing the component firmly to ensure that the notches at the bottom of your reel easily enter the cardboard core
  • Make sure there is no gap between the component of the label and the bottom of the spool and put the reel in your label maker
  • Make sure your labels are justified left
  • There you go, now your label maker is ready for use

Conclusion

We have discussed what a label maker is and how it works. We have also considered the different uses of label makers such as labeling spices and ingredients, creating gift tags, naming plants and sorting various storage spaces like closets and fridges.

We have discussed in great detail the different types of printing methods used in label makers. These methods include laser printing, impact printing, and thermal printing. We have highlighted the benefits of these methods as well.

We have also looked at the different types of label makers available in the market such as industrial label makers and portable label makers. We have provided a short list of uses of label makers. We have discussed the types of paper or cartridges used in most label makers.

We have provided step-by-step instructions on how you can refill the tape in your label maker. Our buying guide will discuss the different features that you should consider when buying a label maker along with some recommendations.