What’s the Difference Between a Label Printer and a Barcode Printer?

Difference between label printer and barcode printer

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Label printers and barcode printers are two types of printing machines used in various businesses and settings. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some differences that set them apart.

The key difference between a label printer and a barcode printer is the intent of usage.

Label printers are used to print labels, tags, and other small documents like receipts. Barcode printers, on the other hand, are used for printing barcodes and other identification tags.

As a label printer also prints barcodes, the term “Label Printers” and “Barcode Printers” are often used interchangeably in the market.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss more differences between label printers and barcode printers. We have differentiated the printers based on their usage, print technology, features, physical size, and more.

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Barcode Printers vs Label Printers - The Difference

Here are the key differences between a barcode printer and a label printer. 

Intended Use

The first and most significant difference between a label printer and a barcode printer is their usage.

As previously mentioned, label printers are used for printing labels, tags, and other small documents, whereas barcode printers are used for barcode printing.

Check our barcode 101 guide if you want in-depth information on barcodes.

Intended use of Label and Barcode printers

Print Technology

Difference in printing technology of Label and Barcode printers

Print technology refers to the method or process used to produce the print. The type of print technology used will significantly impact the quality and cost of ownership.

Label printers are thermal printers that use either direct thermal or thermal transfer technology. Generally, both printing technologies are available in the same printer model.

Barcode printers are also thermal printers but generally use direct thermal printing technology. Barcode printers that use thermal transfer printing are available, although they are more expensive.

Want to learn about direct thermal printers and thermal transfer printers? Check out our direct thermal vs thermal transfer printing comparison guide.

Print Speed

Print speed is the measure of how fast a printer can print. The printing speed varies depending on the chosen print resolution, printer brand, and model.

In general, label printers have a faster printing speed compared to barcode printers.

Difference in print speed between Label printers and Barcode printers
Difference in printing resolution of Label printers and barcode printers

Printing Resolution

Label printers come with the ability to print at different resolutions ranging between 203 dpi (dots per inch) to 600 dpi. You can choose the printing resolution based on your application requirements. Higher resolutions will result in sharper images, but they will also take longer to print.

Barcode printers, on the other hand, generally offer only 203 dpi print resolution. You rarely find a barcode printer with 300 dpi or higher print resolution unless there are graphics or other complex elements to the design.


Features of Label printers and Barcode printers

Label printers are loaded with features that offer greater flexibility and convenience. Some of the features that are available only in label printers include.

  • Touch screen display
  • Operational buttons
  • Built-in processor with RAM and flash memory
  • Multiple connectivity ports
  • Printer option and accessories support

These features allow label printers to be used without the requirement of a host device.

Barcode printers lack such features and rely on a host device for processing information. The host device can be a computer, smartphone, or tablet connected to the printer via wired or wireless connectivity.

Size and Weight

Label printers have a large footprint and are extremely heavy, weighing anywhere between 8 to 10 kg. They are generally industrial printers built using durable materials like aluminium and metal to withstand tough industrial environments.

Barcode printers, on the other hand, are smaller and lighter when compared to label printers. They are generally mobile or desktop printers that can be carried around easily.

Please refer to our guide on types of thermal printers for more information.

Difference in size and weight of Label printers and Barcode printers

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a few differences between label printers and barcode printers. When choosing between the two, it’s important to keep your needs in mind. Here’s a thermal printer buyer’s guide that can help you choose the right type of thermal printer for your business.

If you are still confused about choosing the right type of printer, please feel free to contact us via the live chat widget below. Our experts will be more than happy to help you choose the right type of direct thermal printer or thermal transfer printer for your business.

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