Over the years, we’ve picked up all sorts of tips and tricks when it comes to printing the perfect label – and that knowledge includes a few useful pointers when it comes to picking the perfect printer.
While we would always recommend doing a bit of research and talking to someone who actually specialises in supplying desktop printers for more specific advice, we do have a few helpful tips to get you started.
Should I Buy A Laser Printer Or An Inkjet Printer?
Well, this one is a matter of personal preference BUT we would advise you to consider the following:
- Laser printers produce waterproof print – inkjet printers DO NOT
Inkjet inks are generally water-based, which means they will run or smudge if they get wet. If you need a printer that can create waterproof labels, you’ll need to buy a LASER printer (or buy an inkjet printer and either source specialist waterproof inks OR source a transparent cover to stick over your labels to protect the print).
- Laser printers tend to be able to process a larger variety of materials
At Label Planet, our range of laser labels is larger than our range of inkjet labels, so you might want to consider the kinds of materials you want to be able to print on and then choose a suitable printer.
All of our products are labelled with their printer compatibility; visit our "List Of All Label Materials" page to view ALL of our label products and their printer compatibility.
- Different printers will offer different levels of image resolution
Historically speaking, inkjet printers were always the best option if you needed to produce high quality, high resolution images (especially if you needed to print photographs); today laser printers are capable of producing sharp, crisp images that are of an equal resolution to those produced by inkjet printers BUT inkjet printers do still tend to offer specific “photographic” print options – so if you know that you also want to print photographs, you may want to opt for an inkjet printer.
We would also point out that some printers will try to claim that they are better than others because they offer a much, much higher print resolution; however, for most printing applications (where you don’t need to produce high end graphics and artwork that will stand up to intense scrutiny), having a higher resolution is only beneficial up to a certain point (after which the difference in the quality of image produced becomes negligible – at least to the human eye).
- You have to budget for your printer AND for your consumables
If you’ve got an eye on your budget you may be tempted to opt for an inkjet printer (which tend to cost less than their laser printer counterparts). HOWEVER, you need to remember that printer manufacturers make most of their profits on the consumables that you buy for your printer rather than on the printer itself; in other words, while you might be able to get a really cheap inkjet printer, the ink cartridges it needs are likely to be quite expensive (and small – meaning you have to replace them more often). Laser printers might have a higher starting price BUT their consumables (toner cartridges and images drums) tend to last longer, which gives them a lower overall consumables cost than that of inkjet printers.
If you need to print labels then NO – we would not recommend choosing an All-In-One printer.
These machines are designed to do SEVERAL tasks (e.g. printing, scanning, copying) to an ACCEPTABLE standard; whereas printers are designed to do ONE task (printing) to a HIGH standard. All-In-One printers are not able to cope with labels as well as standard printers; they tend to struggle with processing thicker materials, produce a lower quality of print, and do not offer the same level of precision and control over the print alignment.
Do You Recommend Any Specific Brands?
We recommend both OKI and HP printers; from our own printing experiences, we have found that these printers offer high duty cycles, high quality print on a range of label materials, and a good quality of accuracy in the alignment that they can achieve.
So What Should I Look Out For When Choosing A New Printer?
We recommend that you take a look through the specifications of the printer(s) you are looking at – taking into account the features and print settings offered by the printer, as well as looking at the specifications of what the printer can handle. For example, we highly recommend choosing a printer with a media bypass tray and a high “duty cycle”.
The media bypass tray is designed to process materials that are thicker than paper (such as labels) and offers a straighter path through the printer (to improve the print alignment); the manufacturer should supply a specification list of the weights, thicknesses, and types of materials that both the paper tray and the media bypass tray can (and more importantly cannot) process, so it’s worth taking a look through this information to see if a particular model of printer is suitable for printing labels.
The duty cycle is the estimated number of pages a printer should be able to produce in a given time frame (usually a month) while maintaining a consistent quality of print and standard of operation – you should choose a duty cycle that is higher than the actual amount of printing you anticipate you will end up needing to do to ensure that your printer can handle this amount.
What If I Can’t Find Or Don’t Have A Printer That Is Suitable For Printing Labels?
If the right kind of printer proves elusive, or your budget simply doesn’t stretch far enough to cover the costs of getting a new printer, there are two things you can try:
- Ask around at work or at home to see if someone has a suitable printer that you can borrow.
- Many towns have small high street printers who will be able to print your labels for you; you can order your labels from us and have them delivered either to yourself or directly to your printer and they will take care of the printing for you. Obviously, you will need to contact the printers to get a quote for how much it would cost to have your labels printed in this way and decide if this is a financially sensible option for you.