Barcode Labels

How Does it Work? How Does it Work for You?

We all know what a barcode is, but how does it work? It’s something business owners need to understand.

Barcode symbology is made up of thin and wide bars, and each symbology defines the width of each bar that composes it.

The ribbon is transferred in tiny dots of printing and each dot corresponds to a dot on the printhead. A 200 dpi printhead transfers 200 dots in an area the size of an inch. A higher resolution barcode printhead can transfer more dots of printing in that same size area.

What Level dpi Barcode Printer Do I Need?

High-resolution barcode label printers can economize limited label space and improve barcode scan ability, but are higher-priced than traditional 200 dpi barcode printers. So we’ve broken down the unique benefits of each:

200 dpi Printing:

  • Great for text, numbers and codes, but may appear slightly grainy or pixelated
  • To improve the print quality of a 200 dpi print, you can make the barcode physically larger on your label
  • If you decide to do this, please note each barcode must be scaled proportionately, due to strictly defined policies

600 dpi Printing:

  • High resolution barcode label printer capable of accurately reproducing printed images, barcodes and text in a very small area
  • A 600 dpi barcode printer is best to minimize the size of the barcode you print on or when you need to print plenty of text
  • Useful when you have a small size label and/or product or when you are labelling a small area on your container or package

We’ve included a table to show the physical space required by a barcode:

Barcode Printer Printhead ResolutionPhysical Area Necessary to Print 2 dot barcodePhysical Area Necessary to Print 3 dot barcodePhysical Area Necessary to Print 6 dot barcode
200 dpi1 inch1.5 inches3 inches
300 dpi0.66 inches1 inch2 inches
600 dpi0.33 inches0.5 inches1 inch
*Note higher resolution printheads permit barcodes to be printed in smaller sizes. For example, a barcode that is one inch wide at 200 dpi could be reduced to one third of an inch at 600 dpi.

How Do I Choose the Correct Thermal Ribbon for My Barcode?

Many people are aware differences among label materials can dramatically impact barcode label print quality.

If labels must survive exposure to moisture, UV light, temperature changes (such as room temperature to freezer), moisture exposure or water submersion, it is critical to match labels with thermal transfer ribbons.

Is there a Barcode Quality Standard?

Within the packaging industry, ISO/IEC 15416:2000 is the ISO standard that governs barcode print quality and barcode scanning quality. This applies to linear barcodes such as UPC-A, UPC-E, Code 39 and HIBC, as well as two-dimensional barcodes (2D barcodes) such as DataMatrix, PDF417 and IUID/UID barcodes. ISO 15416 applies to companies in the United States, Canada and Europe.

See for Yourself!

Schedule an in-person demonstration with a QuickLabel label printer. During the demo, you will see your artwork in production and see how great your labels can look! Learn more and contact us today!