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Printable Labels Guide: What Printer is Best For My Labels?

on 03/02/2018

Professional-looking printable labels are essential for any business. You need labels for your address, mailings, shipping products, packaging, and branding. Fortunately, printing labels has never been easier! There are a wide variety of printing and label solutions available that meet the needs of large companies, small businesses, and even those running operations out of their home.

The trickiest part may be finding labels that are compatible with your printer. Some label materials only work with specific types of printers. Using the wrong materials can result in unusable printed labels — and could even damage your printer. Either way, choosing the wrong label could cost your business a lot of time and money.

This guide will identify the label printer type that you need as there are four common types of label printers: inkjet, laser, thermal, and direct thermal. 

How To Determine Your Label Printer Type

Not sure what type of printer you currently own? There are a few ways you can easily find out.

  • Search the Web — The easiest and fastest way to figure out the type of printer you own is to conduct a web search using the printer’s make, model, and SKU number. With one or more of these product identifiers, you will probably find all the information you need to determine your printer type.
  • Check the Printer & Owner’s Manual — Model information and data specs on the printer itself may indicate whether it’s an inkjet, laser, thermal, or direct thermal printer. If you still have the instructions or owners manual that came with your printer, it will indicate the printer type.
  • Rub the Print — For inkjet printers, labels that have just been made will smear or bleed when touched due to the ink still being wet.
  • Feel for Warmth — Laser and thermal printers apply heat to create labels. As a result, your printed labels will be warm to touch shortly after they are created.
  • Inspect the Insides of Your Printer — If your printer has smaller, fewer ink cartridges, you’re using an inkjet printer. Multiple large, bulky toner cartridges indicate a laser printer. If your printer has a ribbon, you’re working with a thermal transfer label printer. The lack of an ink cartridge and ribbon would suggest that you own a direct thermal printer.