How Do I Know What Barcode Label I Have?

Posted June 16, 2015

Barcode labelsIntermec Duratran II Label come in a variety of types and materials to meet the needs of a range of applications. From a temporary shipping label to a rugged asset tag that needs to endure the challenges of outdoor use, there are labels that can meet these needs.

Knowing what type of label you are using is almost impossible to tell from just looking at it but there are a few key tests you can conduct to figure out what type and material your label is. Following these steps you can be assured you order the same label your application needs.

1. Try to tear the label in half

If you can tear the label in half we know right away that it’s a paper stock as opposed to a synthetic material like polypropylene or polyester.  Synthetic materials may stretch and deform a bit but will not be tear-able by hand.

2. Scratch the surface of the label

With this test we are trying to determine if the label is printed with or without a ribbon. If you scratch the surface of the label with the end of a pen or key and a black mark is made then it is a direct thermal label that does not require a ribbon. These labels are coated with a heat sensitive layer and are normally used for short term applications since the print will fade over time.

If the scratch doesn’t make a mark then the label is a thermal transfer type that will require a ribbon to be printed on. These labels will last longer and can utilized for permanent applications.

3. See if the label floats/sinks in water

At this point, if the label tore in half we know its paper and the scratch test tells us if it is Direct Thermal or Thermal Transfer. If the label didn’t tear however, we still need to determine what type of plastic it is between polypropylene or polyester. The main concern here is that there is a noticeable costs difference between the two plastics and they also use different ribbons to be printed on

The simplest test for determining the plastic type is to take the label (or part of it if it’s large) and submerge it water. Polypropylene is less dense than polyester and will float in water where polyester will sink.

Following these simple tests are an easy way to quickly figure out what kind of label you are using and allow you purchase the right label stock. If you do encounter any issues or need further assistance finding the right label for your needs, you can always contact one of our label specialists at Barcodes, Inc.

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