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Where to Place an RFID Inlay

Posted December 17, 2020

Printing and encoding RFID “smart labels” with an RFID-enabled printer has traditionally been difficult; a classic case of “the Devil is in the details.”  One difficulty users have wrestled with has been “inlay placement.”  Inlay placement refers to the location of the RFID inlay under the label’s face stock.  Although inlays are generally oriented horizontally under the face stock, the inlays can be located towards the bottom of the label, towards the top, or anywhere in between.  In the picture to the right, for example, the inlay is relatively close to the bottom of the label, the “leading edge” as it is often called, because this edge comes out of the printer first. 

Almost every printer brand – and even model – has traditionally had detailed, complex specifications regarding inlay placement, with different specifications for each and every inlay on the market.  The location of the inlay has to be a particular distance from the leading edge of the label in order to maximize the printer’s throughput (speed).  Just a millimeter or two either way, and the performance of the printer can suffer dramatically.  What a mess.  Given that printing and encoding RFID labels is already slower than printing traditional barcode labels, any further loss in performance has often been catastrophic for the end-user.  Waiting for your RFID labels to print and encode can hold up an entire production line.  This all meant that for your printer brand and model, you needed to make sure to order labels with an optimal inlay placement. 

Precise inlay placement also causes some additional problems: 

  • It makes selecting labels more difficult. Users need to order their labels very carefully to ensure correct inlay placement.  Does your purchasing department understand inlay placement?  
  • It can cause delays in sourcing labels.  Often, a convertor (label manufacturer) will have exactly the label size you need – but with incorrect inlay placement for your printer.  To get labels with optimal inlay placement, the convertor needs to configure their entire production line and run a new batch of labels for you.  This can take several days to several weeks. 
  • Finally, requiring a specific inlay placement can mean that users may pay more for their labels.  A quick Google search of classic paper thermal transfer 4×6 RFID shipping labels will show some surprising results.  The very same labels from the very same vendor can have dramatically different prices depending solely on inlay placement.  It all boils down to supply and demand, but if you are on the wrong side of the equation, you may have to pay significantly more for your labels. 

With Printronix Auto ID’s current line-up of RFID printers, these headaches associated with inlay placement are now a thing of the past.  Printronix RFID printers have a unique firmware (the software brains in the printer), which does what they call “Encode During Print.”  In clearer language, this means that the printer will first print some of the label, then switch over to encoding, then switch back to printing and finish up the label.  The printer will automatically either print or encode at any given moment depending on where the label is relative to the printer’s printhead and RFID encoder.  The traditional approaches for RFID printers were to either first print the entire label, then encode the RFID portion (“Print then Encode”) – or to first encode the RFID, then print the label (“Encode then Print”).  But with these traditional approaches, if the inlay is not optimally placed, then the printer needs to back- or forward-feed the label to align it for an operation (printing or encoding) at any given moment.  With Printronix’s Encode During Print functionality, back- and forward-feed are eliminated (other than to overstrike bad labels, which is another blog topic for another day), regardless of inlay placement. 

So far, we have been talking about labels like 4×6 shipping labels that allow different inlay placements.  But what about all of the RFID labels, “tags,” on the market that have predetermined inlay placement?  For example, on-metal tags, plant stakes, small pharmaceutical labels for cold-chain applications, “RTI” tags (Returnable Transport Items), etc., etc.  There are many such tags on the market, and more are being developed and released all the time.  These tags generally have a fixed inlay placement based on their physical design and on simple commercial considerations – they are meant to be “Off-the-Shelf” (OTS) products.  This is another area Printronix’s Encode During Print functionality shines even more.  Because the Printronix printers do not care where the inlay is located, you can use any of these tags and still achieve maximum throughput. 

And these unusual tags often pose physical feed challenges for RFID printers.  For example, on-metal and RTI tags are often thicker than normal smart labels, and they can have abrupt edges between labels, large gaps, etc.  Both Printronix’s T6000e and T4000 series printers were designed from the ground up to work with these more difficult constructions.  The printers are spec’ed for labels up to 1.2mm thick and are available in 4” and 6” print-widths, allowing you to print and encode a wide variety of tags from a single printer – all without sacrificing performance.  

Finding the right RFID solution is always a challenge and having the right resources and help are critical. If RFID sounds like a suitable solution for your business or you have additional questions, feel free to contact us at Barcodes, Inc. We’re always happy to help you find the right solution for your needs. 

The Next Generation 4-inch Desktop Thermal Printer

Posted November 27, 2020

Setting the bar for desktop barcode label printing, SATO’s CT4-LX is a 4-inch thermal printer offering features and functionality typically only found in industrial printer models but in a compact size. Designed with a full-color touchscreen display, the latest wireless connectivity options and patented label waste prevention feature, the CT4LX Label Printer is easy to operate and maintain with user-replaceable printheads and platen rollers to quickly keep your business up and running.

Key Features
– 4.3″ Full Color Touchscreen Display
– 203 or 305 dpi print resolution
– Thermal Transfer and Direct Thermal
– Label Waste Prevention – eliminates first label loss
– Apple iOS Connectivity
– Quick pairing with NFC-enabled devices
– Auto Switching competitive emulation languages (SBPL, SEPL, SZPL, SDPL, SIPL, or STCL)
– Auto RFID positioning with SATO RF Analyze (SRA)
– Remote management with SATO Online Services (SOS)

Connectivity Options: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RS-232C
Optional Features: UHF RFID encoder (pre-installed), Auto-Cutter, Linerless Cutter, Dispenser, Real-Time Clock

Shop the Sato CT4-LX online or Contact your Barcodes, Inc. Account Manager for more information.

A Zebra Printer for the Right Job

Posted November 21, 2017

At Barcodes, Inc our extensive Zebra portfolio boasts industry-leading printer products. With Zebra’s Barcode and RFID printer solutions you’ll have a printer capable of smarter ways to track labels and manage assets with the ability to produce labels, receipts, documents, or cards on-demand. Are you optimizing your printer’s efficiency? Are you using the right Zebra Printer for the right job?

zxp-9-2The ZXP Series 9 card printer has selectable print modes that’ll allow users to easily optimize for print quality or print speed. The new fine print mode slows the printing process down slightly in order to deliver photo-like image quality. Reduce printer downtime with Near Field Communication technology and QR Codes that give you instant access to printer information and support. With the ZXP Series 9 card printer the user will have the ability to view printer settings, status, and manage a large number of networked remote printers from anywhere in the world using Zebra’s optional PrintMonitor. The ZXP 9 is ideal for government, retail, hospitality, education, and service bureaus.

 

hc100The HC100 Wristband Printer makes it easy to print individual wristbands on demand. All users have to do is drop in the wristband cartridge and start printing high-quality wristbands. With an easy-to-load feature, minimal action is required from the user. The printer detects the wristband type and size and will automatically calibrate the settings for optimal print quality and reduce waste. With faster print speeds, wait lines at the point of entrance are reduced, improving the customer experience and staff productivity. The HC100 is ideal for hospital patient identification as well as guest identification at hospitality venues, amusement parks, sporting events, zoos, etc.

 

zq500The ZQ500 Series are a set of rugged mobile printers. With the ability to withstand repeated drops to concrete from up to 6.6 feet (2 m). The mobile printers come with large buttons and a user-friendly interface making it easy to operate. The ZQ500 series comes in two options the ZQ510 3 inch (72 mm) and the ZQ520 4 inch (104 mm). The set of mobile printers meet IP54 rating for resistance to dust and liquids that are common in mobile environments. The ZQ500 series is ideal for transportation, retail, and manufacturing.

Zebra’s Silverline On-Demand RFID Metal Asset Tagging Solution

Posted November 18, 2016

largeimage-adapt-fullZebra and Confidex have worked together to develop this unique solution consisting of a redesigned ZT410 RFID printer, optimized Silverline labels and high quality Zebra ribbons. This combination provides for excellent print quality, encoding accuracy and ease of solution deployment and use. Silverline labels, now offered exclusively by Zebra, are available in three sizes to meet the needs of a wide variety of applications. When combined with Zebra’s RFID reader portfolio, the launch of Silverline enables complete Zebra RFID solutions for the most critical Enterprise Assets. For example in healthcare, hospital assets like wheel chairs, beds, oxygen canisters, IV pumps, medical diagnostic instruments, etc. can now be accurately and efficiently RFID tagged. In manufacturing, it enables tagging of tools, fixtures, metal parts, returnable containers, etc. Tagging of IT assets such as laptops, servers, tablets, etc. is another ideal use case.

Silverline Solution:
• Total Solution: Silverline RFID tags and Zebra ZT410 Silverline printer
• Provides RFID labels that work directly on all surfaces
• Prints and encodes labels for metal and liquid-filled assets
• Choose from three types of RFID labels: standard, slim and micro
• Available Globally
• Read range of up to 5m
• Reliable, flexible and scalable

The Internet of Things with Zebra and Barcodes, Inc.

Posted August 21, 2015

rfidIotWhat is it?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the coming connectivity of everything you own, everything you see. No longer will access to the internet be limited to single point interfaces like your phone or computer, or single-point data sources like web pages or servers. Nor will it be limited to you! Everything you see can, and someday will, be interconnected and sharing data: your tv, your refrigerator, your home, your car, the roads you drive on, the building you work in, the package you’re delivering… everything.

So far, the Internet of Things has been most closely associated with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in manufacturing and power, oil and gas utilities. Products built with M2M communication capabilities are often referred to as being smart.

Why do I care?

IoT will affect the way we live and work. IoT will impact every industry out there: Healthcare, Manufacturing, Transportation & Logisitics, Retail, Hospitality, Warehousing, and so on. Your competitors will be embracing IoT capabilities to find a competitive advantage, the same advantage you want to get first. The advantage that comes with speed, efficiency, and a clear view of your assets and operations, your people and inventory, 24/7 in real time.

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Zebra’s Compact, Easy-to-Use UHF RFID Printer the ZD500R

Posted December 16, 2013

The new ZD500R extends Zebra‘s broad range of RFID printers by adding UHF RFID printing and encoding to Zebra’s line of industry-leading  compact thermal desktop printers. Designed for applications where space is at a premium, the ZD500R offers simple, one-touch printing and encoding, straightforward loading, and automatic RFID calibration, making it ideal for applications where technical support staff is limited, such as retail in-store exception tagging.

The printer supports both direct thermal and thermal transfer printing and is compatible with inlays from all leading suppliers. The ZD500R can be used with a variety of RFID labels and tags from small, item-level hang tags to large case and pallet labels. By encoding RFID inlays that are spaced closer together, the ZD500R enables lower media costs, less media waste and fewer roll changes.

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Zebra RFID Printer Infographic

Posted October 16, 2013

Gaining the all the benefits of RFID normally involves turning your standard printed label into a RFID enabled one. Most RFID labeling solutions still utilize barcodes and other printed details on the front of the label for redundancy in case a tag were to get damaged, so finding a reliable RFID printer also means choosing a good barcode printer at the same time.

With the ever expanding options for RFID printers it can be a challenge finding one that suits your application without costing a fortune. Lucky for us, one of the leading manufacturers of barcode printers, Zebra, also makes a full line of RFID printers of the same high caliber. Whether you need a high volume industrial solution, a mobile in-the-field option, or a basic low-volume economical solution, Zebra has an RFID printer to fit any need.

This infographic is a great primer into the Zebra line and you can always contact us at Barcodes Inc. with any questions or need for assistance in choosing the right unit for your business.

Zebra RFID Printers

Printronix RFID Printers

Posted September 27, 2013

Printronix RFID Printers

As RFID becomes a more commonplace tool to help all types of businesses become more efficient and accurate, the available choices for RFID printers is expanding all the time. Given the costs involved you obviously want to find a printer that will meet any compliance/performance requirements you need while being a reliable  investment for the long term.

Printronix has been a leading manufacture of industrial grade label printers and continues this legacy with their current line of RFID printers. Designed for the most demanding and critical applications, the SL5000R and SL4M are the perfect solutions for any RFID printing requirement.

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Printronix RFID: Prevent Compliance Fines with Online Data Validation

Posted September 4, 2013

Screenshot_1Printronix has built a reputation for building top-of-the-line line matrix and thermal barcode printers and is doing the same with their superb line of RFID printers which are becoming some of the top devices in the RFID industry.

What makes the Printronix RFID printers, the SL5000r and SL4M,  unique is their ability to incorporate Online Data Validation (ODV) to their RFID printing solution. ODV technology ensures that all barcodes being printed are meeting the most stringent standards set by vendors such as Walmart and the Department of Defense. Maintaining compliance prevents hefty fines that can range up to $20 per box plus the cost to rework, pack and ship the corrected boxes. Thus, a return on investment for a Printronix RFID printer can be achieved on as a little as one poorly labeled shipment.

To learn more about the Printronix RFID printer or how ODV works, please contact one of our Barcodes Inc RFID experts.

Bartender RFID: The RFID Printing Software of Choice

Posted August 13, 2013

Seagull Bartender RFID RFID SoftwareSeagull Scientific’s Bartender has gained notoriety for providing the best label design software on the market. However, Bartender RFID includes the same label design features, along with encoding capabilities that offer the same ease of use. Bartender RFID Enterprise Automation and Automation’s rich feature sets include supporting most of the popular RFID printers, supporting most of the label types available (Gen2, EPC Class 1, ISO 15693, etc.) and allows data to be encoded in most of the common formats (DoD, SSCC, GIAI, etc.).

Seagull Scientific continues to lead the way in innovation when it comes to barcode and RFID printing software. Consequently, Barcodes Inc recommends Bartender RFID in our RFID printing systems in order to provide a low cost, quality solution.

For more assistance finding the right RFID printing software for your needs, contact us at Barcodes Inc.

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