A barcode printer creates barcodes using a combination of barcode software and printing technology. Here is a general breakdown of the process:
- Barcode Design: The user or operator of the barcode printer typically uses barcode software to design the barcode. This software allows them to input the desired data, choose the barcode symbology (such as UPC, Code 39, QR code, etc.), adjust the size and appearance, and set any additional properties or specifications.
- Encoding: Once the barcode design is finalized, the barcode software encodes the inputted data into the appropriate barcode symbology. Each symbology has its own rules and algorithms for encoding data.
- Printing Technology: Barcode printers use various printing technologies, such as thermal transfer, direct thermal, or inkjet. The most common is thermal transfer, which uses heat to transfer ink from a ribbon onto the label material. Direct thermal printing generates heat-sensitive labels that darken when heated. Inkjet printers use liquid ink to create the barcode.
- Printing Process: After the barcode is encoded, the barcode printer sends the barcode design to the printing mechanism. The printing technology is applied to the label or material, creating the barcode pattern according to the encoded data. This process involves precise application of ink, heat, or other printing methods, following the specific requirements of the chosen printing technology.
- Verification: To ensure the printed barcode is scannable and accurately represents the encoded data, a barcode verifier may be used. Verifiers assess the quality and readability of barcodes according to industry standards, verifying factors such as barcode contrast, quiet zones, edge determination, and more.
Overall, a barcode printer combines barcode software, encoding technology, and printing techniques to generate accurately encoded and printable barcodes, which can be later scanned and read by barcode scanners or other scanning devices.