Thermal Barcode Printers: An Introduction to Options

by ScanSource Technical Services on September 16, 2010 · 0 comments

in Barcode Printing,POS,RFID,ScanSource POS & Barcode,Technical Education Portal,Technology,Wireless

Now that we have a pretty good understanding of how Thermal Barcode Printers work in general, let’s take a look at some common options.

Peel and Present:

  • Dispense Mode
  • Self Strip
  • Present Sensor

Most label stock comes on a substrate (backing material). In many applications you don’t want the worker to have to spend the time peeling this backing material off each label. The solution is to have the printer do it for you. This option is commonly referred to as Peel and Present, because the label peels the label and then presents it to the user. You also see this option referred to as Self Strip or Dispense Mode.

As you can see in this video, Peel and Present works by rewinding the backing material onto a spindle inside the printer while using a Present Sensor to watch the label as it is presented after printing. The Present Sensor watches for the label to be removed before allowing the printer to print the next label. This prevents multiple labels from being presented at once preventing a sticky mess as the labels pile up on each other.


  • Backing Only
  • Label Rewinders
  • Full Batch
  • External Rewinders

There are several types of rewinders available. The first works with the Peel and Present option. All that backing material has to go somewhere. Some budget solutions just take the backing and drop it out the front of the printer. Perfectly suitable for low volume applications, but in a busy environment the last thing you would want is a bunch of backing material piling up on the floor. The solution is to have a rewinder built into the printer. The backing material is routed down the front of the printer and rewound onto a spindle for easy disposal.

There are also times when a customer may want to preprint labels for later use. That is where Label Rewinders come up. Instead of feeding the label out the front for removal, it is routed down the front of the printer and back inside to a label rewinder. The labels are wound onto a core for use later. Not all printers with rewinders can rewind an entire roll of labels. The ones that can are referred to as full batch rewinders.

There are also external rewinders. These devices sit in front of a printer and rewind the labels as they come out of the printer.


Another option we are going to look at is the cutter. This option does just what it says. As the label prints the cutter cuts it and drops it into a bin. Cutters are often used with Continuous Media, which is media that does not have a gap or perforation to separate the labels. Instead of looking for top of form the printer is told, by the label print job, the length of the label. Once this length has been reached the printer advances the label to the cutter where it is cut to length.

It can also be used with media that has a gap or perforation. In some cases it may be advantageous to have the printer produce a stack of labels instead of a roll.

Online Verifiers

Verifiers will get a training all to themselves but we should touch on online verifiers (OLVs) while we are discussing the various barcode printer options. An OLV is a tool for those that can’t afford to print a bad barcode. They are especially valuable for those printing barcodes for compliance, but can be useful for anyone who wants to guarantee that every barcode they print is perfect. It might appear that an OLV simply scans the barcodes as they are being printed, but it is doing much more. An OLV is a diagnostic tool that analyzes and grades the quality of each barcode it scans against a list of criteria. If the barcode doesn’t scan, or does not meet the symbologies minimum parameters the OLV could perform a number of different actions. In most cases it will stop the printer and signal for human interaction to correct the problem. If it is attached to a Printronix printer it could also mark out the bad barcode and attempt to reprint the label correctly. This video shows the OLV in action with a Printronix SL5204 printer.

More information can be found at

Online Linear Scanner

This is an option specific to Datamax. The Linear Scanner option is similar to the online verifier but does not do as detailed an analysis of the barcode. It cannot be called a true verification. It scans the barcode and compares it to a much shorter list of criteria. However for many customers that is all they need. It will also alert the printer to a bad barcode and the printer can attempt to reprint the label. This is a video showing the Online Linear Scanner in action on a Datamax I class.

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