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How Do Shipping Label Printers Work? Find Out Here!

  • 8 min read
Ben Hunter

Ben Hunter

I started as a portal to educate and guide people who are either looking to buy a label printer or want to start a business selling them. Here I cover the differences in label printer technologies, the advantages and disadvantages in each and also share my (unbiased) recommendations on which type is best for your business.

How Do Shipping Label Printers Work?

Shipping label printers are essential for businesses that ship products to customers. These specialized printers are designed to quickly and accurately print shipping labels, which include necessary information such as the recipient’s address, shipping details, and tracking information. But how exactly do these printers work?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the inner workings of shipping label printers, including the different types of printers available, the printing process, and the many benefits of using these devices in your shipping operations. Whether a small business owner or a logistics professional, this information will help you understand how shipping label printers can improve your shipping processes and save you time and money. So, let’s dive in and explore the fantastic world of shipping label printers!

What Are Shipping Label Printers?

Shipping label printers, also known as barcodes or thermal transfer printers, are specialized devices used to print shipping labels and other barcode labels. These printers are designed to handle the high volume and demanding requirements of shipping and logistics operations. They are commonly used by businesses that ship products regularly, such as e-commerce companies, warehouses, and distribution centers.

Types Of Shipping Label Printers

1. Thermal Transfer Printers

Thermal transfer printers use heat to transfer ink from a ribbon onto the label material. The most common types of thermal printing technology used by label makers are direct thermal and thermal transfer. Direct thermal printing uses special thermal paper that changes color when exposed to heat. In contrast, thermal transfer printing uses a ribbon that contains the ink and heat to transfer the ink onto the label material. Thermal transfer printers are typically used for printing high-quality, durable labels, such as those used in shipping and logistics.

2. Direct Thermal Printers

Direct thermal printers use heat-sensitive paper to create labels. This technology works by exposing the thermal paper to heat, which causes a chemical reaction that causes the paper to change color. The result is a black or colored label that can be used for shipping and logistics. Direct thermal printers are typically smaller and more affordable than thermal transfer printers, making them an excellent option for small businesses or home use.

3. Inkjet And Laser Printers

Inkjet and laser printers are similar to general printing but are explicitly designed for printing shipping labels. Inkjet printers use small nozzles to spray droplets of ink onto the label material, while laser printers use a laser beam to create an image on a drum that is then transferred onto the label material. Both types of printers can produce high-quality, durable labels suitable for shipping and E-Commerce logistics.

What Is The Process Of Using A Shipping Label Printer?

Shipping label printers are specialized devices used to print shipping labels and other forms of identification labels for packages and other items being shipped. They use various printing technologies such as thermal transfer, direct thermal, inkjet, and laser printing to create durable, accurate, and easy-to-read labels.

The Printing Process

Step #1 Preparing The Printer And Labels

The first step in printing is preparing the Printer and the labels. This includes loading the label roll into the Printer, setting up the software and connectivity, and adjusting the printer settings to match the label size and material.

Step #2 Sending Data To The Printer

The next step is to send the data to the Printer. This is typically done by connecting the Printer to a computer or other device and using software to create the label design and input the necessary information, such as the shipping address, weight, and further details.

Step #3 Printing The Labels

Once the data has been sent to the Printer, the labels are printed using the selected printing technology. This can include thermal transfer printing, which uses heat to transfer ink from a ribbon onto the label material, or direct thermal printing, which uses special thermal paper that changes color when exposed to heat.

Step #4 Finishing Up The Job

After the labels have been printed, the final step is to finish up the job. This can include cutting the labels to size, applying them to the packages, and preparing the boxes for shipping.

Advantages Of Using Shipping Label Printers

1. Increased Efficiency

Shipping label printers are designed to increase the efficiency of shipping processes. They can print labels quickly and accurately, reducing the time and effort required to create and apply labels manually. This leads to faster turnaround times and an increase in productivity.

2. Improved Accuracy

Shipping label printers can print high-quality adhesive labels that are easily read and accurate. This reduces the chances of errors occurring, such as incorrect addresses or labels that are difficult to read. This leads to fewer misdelivered packages and less wasted time and money.

3. Cost Savings

Shipping label printers can save money in several ways. They can reduce labor costs by printing strong labels quickly and accurately, thus reducing the need for manual labor. They also use fewer materials, ink, and paper than traditional label printing methods.

4. Customization

Shipping label printers can print various sizes, colors, and designs. This allows for the creation of unique and professional-looking quality labels, which can be beneficial for branding and marketing purposes.

5. Connectivity

Many shipping label printers can connect to other devices, such as computers and mobile devices, which enables easy integration with shipping software and online tools marketplaces. This allows for real-time tracking and streamlined shipping process operations.

6. Durability

Shipping label printers are designed to withstand the rigors of the shipping industry. They are built to handle heavy usage and withstand regular use’s wear and tear.

7. Versatility

Shipping label printers can print on various label materials, including paper, polyester, and vinyl. This allows them to be used in multiple shipping environments and for different packages.

What To Think About When Purchasing A Label Printer?

Choosing a label printer requires considering the printer type, thermal printing method, and other essential features.

1. Shipping Label Dimensions

The standard size of the shipping labels you intend to use should be compatible with your Printer. You should take the specifications of the carrier you use into account when selecting a size.

This book Label size is available in two variations: 25 mm core and 76 mm core. Your Printer will determine the proper core diameter. Use the 25 mm core for a desktop printer. The 76 mm handwritten labels are preferable for an industrial printer because you won’t need to replace rolls as frequently.

2. Print & Resolution Speed

There are many brands of label printers available since supply always follows demand. This indicates that there are many pricing points and varying levels of quality. It’s crucial to choose between price and quality while purchasing any item. For instance, you may assess suitable label printers’ resolution and print speed.

To ensure accuracy, your shipping labels and barcodes must be printed at a high resolution. Of course, the printing speed will influence how hurriedly your tags print. A commonplace cheapest label printer will naturally give slower results than an industrial label printer. Think about the demands of your e-commerce firm.

3. Software & Printer Connection

Examining the requirements for connecting the Printer to your computer is also helpful. Plenty of label printers may be linked by USB, although some can also be connected via a parallel port, Ethernet, or serial port (RS-232). Moving your label printer around is simpler with machines that support Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections.

You need to determine if your proper label printer is compatible. Not all printers have Mac drivers installed, which may require extra software. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the Printer’s features.

Which Label Printers Are Ideal For Shipping Labels?

There are so many factors to take into account. The best label printer, though, is which? The two models that Sendcloud recommends depend on what you need and find significant.

DYMO Label Maker

One of the most recognized marks of label printers is DYMO. If needing to form shipping labels, we recommend the DYMO 4XL label press. This heat printer manufactures pages at extremely high speed (up to 53 labels per minute). For both Windows and Mac computers, installing this label press is effortless.

Zebra Label Printer

A quality thermal label printer under the Zebra name is the GK420D. With a print speed of up to 127 mm per second, this label printer can produce 25 to 104 mm broad visitor labels. Although there isn’t an official driver for Mac, the driver may be installed using outside software.

An A6 label printer is suitable for all shipping carriers, so there’s no need for a separate printer for each one. To ensure compatibility with carriers like PostNL and DHL, have an A6 size label printer.


Shipping label printers are essential tools for businesses that ship products regularly. They offer a range of benefits, including increased efficiency and accuracy, cost savings, and customization options. With a better understanding of how these printers work, businesses can make informed decisions on which type of printer is best suited for their needs and improve their shipping processes.


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