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The history of barcode printing goes back in 1948 and features Bernard Silver, a graduate student and his friend Norman Woodland. The demand for a system that would automatically read product information during checkout came from the president of Food Fair, the local food chain in Philadelphia.

Using Morse code as inspiration, Woodland and Silver proceeded with their ideas, and in 1949 filed a patent application for a new system of printing patterns and reading system. Two years later, Woodland moved to IBM and tried to interest the company in developing the system.

Despite the interest, the conclusion was that it would take patience for more adequate technology to be developed in the future.

The next person to work on what we nowadays know as barcode was David Collins. As he was working at Pennsylvania Railroad, he became aware of the need to automatically identify railroad cars. He developed an interesting method using blue and yellow reflective stripes attached to the side of the cars, encoding a six digit company identifier and a four-digit car number. Light reflected off the stripes was fed into one of two photomultipliers, filtered for blue or yellow. This system had its faults, but was another step that contributed to the universal adoption of the barcodes.

In 1971 IBM remembered they still employed Woodland, so a new facility in North Carolina was established. Gradually, after failures and improvements, the barcode started to be adopted by more and more commercial chains, especially after exact data regarding the return on investment for a barcode scanner became available.

As expected, extremists and supports of the conspiracy theory did not greet the barcodes very friendly. But their advantages eventually neutralized extreme opinions.

Resource: Wikipedia

Barcode labels are extremely useful. They can be used to keep track of patients (medical history, allergies), rental cars, airline luggage and you name it. Recent advanced technology makes it possible for barcodes to be printed and labelled, respecting a very high level of accuracy.

Labelling is a very important process that has come a long way from a mere piece of paper stating the product name, to a precise label that must contain detailed and real information. Knowing that there is advanced technology you can rely on is very important. ALS, Advanced Labelling Systems offers a range of fast, reliable and economic label printers that answer today’s needs of being informed.

ALS Fast Labeller

There are two types of printers, dot matrix printers and heat transfer printers. In the first type, the printer ribbon is soaked with the ink and a hammer like motion prints the text onto the paper. Heat transfer printers are mostly used for label printing. With heat transfer technology, the printer ribbon is covered with ink and a coating of wax. The heat melts the wax and the ink is transferred to the paper. Besides heat transfer technology being new, its principles exist since typists invented printer ribbons.

This new age of printing systems are widely used in label printers or barcode tags using black ink. However it can use blue or red ink also. These printer ribbons have many advantages over traditional printing systems. The most obvious are the speed, image quality and effectiveness. Furthermore they are noise free, maintenance free and no need for ribbons or cartridges. All these aspects and advantages have made this technology popular and is very useful for businesses operating in retail, warehouse and food processing industries. There are mainly three types of printer ribbons:

  • Wax-based thermal ribbon– used to hard-wearing labels
  • Resin-based thermal ribbon- used for labels not subjected to moisture
  • Combination of wax and resin – used on glossy paper

Not all thermal transfer label systems are created equal however, results can look the same to the eye. Other important aspect you need to know is that some thermal transfer label printers work only with wax-based ribbons, while others may need resin-based ribbons. There are also some that work with both wax and resin. This means you have to choose carefully based on your particular situation.

Whilst they have different characteristics all varieties of thermal ribbons can create quality images, are resistant to heat and are high durable. This is the reason why these thermal printers are becoming popular for creating long life span labels.