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Pre-Printed Barcode Labels vs. Print-On-Demand: How to Decide
When it’s time to print barcode labels for automated scanning and data capture, a common question is whether it’s better to print labels on-demand or use pre-printed labels.
The answer depends on a number of factors, so we’ve put together a quick overview of common use cases and guidelines to help you make the right choice.
When It Makes Sense to Print Barcode Labels On-Demand
Variable Data Requirements
In some cases, the information or data on your barcode labels may vary from label to label. If you need to print unique information on each label, such as a name, address, specific product information, weight, or quantity, you may have to print your own labels. Often it’s better to print on-site and on-demand in these cases.
It also makes sense to print on-demand if you need to print batches of labels based on changing customer labeling requirements and production or order levels. Otherwise, you can end up printing too many labels and wasting supplies and costs.
Under normal circumstances, you might be able to use pre-printed label stock, but if you suddenly need to add more information to a label for a particular customer, regulatory requirement, or a given order or shipment, you can print an individual label or a batch of labels on-demand.
Low Printing Volumes
If you’re printing in lower volumes, sometimes it’s more efficient and cost-effective to print your labels in-house and on-demand. You can print as you go and make changes as needed.
When It Makes Sense to Order Pre-Printed Barcode Labels
Identical Labels or Sequential Data Changes
In most cases, pre-printed labels are a viable option only when each label will be the same, or when it contains sequential numbers or other information that your label provider can easily apply.
If your labels are fairly generic and only contain sequential numbering, you can easily order pre-printed labels and avoid unnecessary equipment and supply costs.
High-Volume Label Printing
If you’re printing thousands of labels every day and your labels are identical or contain only sequential changes, it’s often more convenient and cost-effective to outsource and buy pre-printed labels. This can save you significant money on label and printing supplies as well as minimize your need to invest in expensive printers and hardware.
As mentioned above, on-demand printing requires in-house printers, supplies, networking, maintenance and support. If you’re operating on a limited budget or prefer to minimize your overall printing costs, buying pre-printed labels offers major savings.
Specialized Label Requirements
If you require specialized labels for cold storage, chemical exposure, permanent adhesion, holographic security, or similar demands, you may want to purchase pre-printed labels.
However, many specialized label materials are available in pre-purchased rolls, so you can print your own labels with high durability and extreme temperature resistance. The right choice will depend on your application and usage requirements, but labels from companies such as Zebra provide a perfect option for both on-demand and pre-printing.
Getting Expert Guidance
To make an informed and cost-effective choice between pre-printed and on-demand labels, it helps to consult with a barcoding and labeling specialist to make the best possible decision.
At Huzzard Systems, we’ve been a leading provider of Zebra barcode labeling systems and solutions for over 35 years, and our experts can guide you with a free consultation and recommendations for your unique business requirements.