Label printers can massively simplify your e-commerce logistics by speeding up printing large batches of postage labels for your e-commerce store.
If you are thinking about buying one for your business, then you probably have a number of questions about how much they cost, the right model to buy, how to set one up, and how they work.
But before we start, want to check whether you’re currently paying too much for your shipping?
Laser printers or label printers for postage labels?
Laser printer or label printer – which one is right for postage labels? A label printer is designed to print postage labels directly onto self-adhesive labels. In comparison, a laser printer is designed to be used with A4 paper.
Not only does a label printer save you time by directly printing the details you need on a ready-to-adhere label, but it also ensures both those details and the barcode are clearly identifiable. An illegible label will lead to a high number of returns — burning through your time and your money. That’s why we always recommend buying a label printer over a laser printer.
How much does a label printer cost
How much a shipping label printer costs depends on a range of factors, such as the print speed or whether you go for an industrial or regular printer. High-quality printers can range from around £50 to £600, depending on the quality of the model. Laser printers will set you back approximately £60 to £400.
How do label printers work?
Types of label printers: regular vs. industrial
A regular label printer is a good option if you only need to print a small number of labels for your business. Alternatively, if you have a large number of shipping labels to print, it is better to go for an industrial printer.
How do thermal label printers work?
Thermal printers work by creating an image on paper with the use of heat. When considering which thermal label printer to buy, it’s also important to understand the two printing techniques available: direct thermal and thermal transfer. A thermal transfer utilises a heated ribbon to print.
In comparison, direct thermal printing uses heat-sensitive media, so doesn’t need ink. Thermal-printed labels don’t last as long – with the text fading over time (which is not typically a problem if you only need to use one to send a parcel).
What to consider when buying label printers
Beyond printing methods, here is what else you need to weigh up when buying a label printer.
Whether your printer matches the size of postage labels
First things first when weighing up which printer to buy: does your printer match the size of the postage labels you need? Take a look at the carrier’s website to find out which size labels they require. For example, at Sendcloud, we use one standard size: 105 x 148 mm.
There are two variations of this size: 25 mm core or 76 mm core. The appropriate core diameter changes based on your printer. For an industrial printer, go for the 76 mm labels so you don’t have to change rolls frequently. For a desktop printer, opt for the 25 mm core.
How fast do you need to print your labels? How many labels do you need to print in a short space of time? Carefully consider these factors when choosing a printer. An industrial label printer is a lot faster than a regular one. Faster printers are typically more expensive — so consider the tradeoff of speed vs price when you’re looking to buy.
Resolution also impacts printer speed and the cost of a printer. The higher the resolution, the faster and the more expensive the printer. The resolution impacts the readability of your barcode and therefore your shipping labels.
The connection between printer & software
Also consider how you can connect the printer to your computer. The majority of label printers are connected via USB, but some are connected via serial port (RS-232), parallel port, bluetooth, or ethernet.
In addition, you should also consider the availability of drivers for your label printer. For example, many printers don’t include official drivers for Mac — so you’d need to install a separate program to print using a Mac computer.
Label printers for postage labels: which is the best?
When considering which type and model will be the best for your business, we have two recommendations to start your search:
Zebra makes the GK420D — a great thermal printer machine (no expensive ink or toner required). You can use the GK420D to print labels from 25 to 104 mm wide. In addition, the model prints up to 127 mm per second.
Use a Mac? The GK420D doesn’t offer an official driver. However, luckily you can use an external program to install the driver to transform your GK420D into a Mac compatible label printer.
DYMO is one of the most popular label printers. Our team at Sendcloud recommend the DYMO 4XL for printing your postage labels.
This thermal printer uses smudge-proof thermal printing technology. It’s also incredibly fast — with the capacity to print up to 53 labels per minute. What is the DYMO’s shipping label size? You can use the DYMO to print barcoded shipping labels in a range of sizes — including the 10 x 15 cm labels that you’ll need for international shipping.
Where can I buy a label printer for shipping labels?
It’s pretty difficult to find a label printer on the high street. However, there are plenty of websites dedicated to office supplies where you can easily find the model you’re looking for. We recommend Staples or UK Office Direct. An added bonus of shopping online? You can read reviews or comparison guides to ensure the printer you’re buying suits your needs.
How do I set up a DYMO/Zebra?
Installing and setting up a label printer can seem daunting, but it’s not as complicated as you might think.
How to install your label printer for Windows
- First, connect your label printer via USB, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi
- Head to System > Preferences > Printers & Scanners
- Add your printer
How to install your label printer for Mac
- Head to ‘System Preferences’ and choose ‘Printers & Scanners’
- Click the + button
- Select your printer & click ‘Add Printer’ from the ‘Use’ drop-down menu
- Select your printer from the list
Label printer settings for DYMO & Zebra
After you’ve installed your device, you need to make sure you’ve selected the correct settings in order to avoid any issues with your print. Here’s how.
- Hit Command + P on your keyboard to print a label
- From the window that opens, select ‘Manage custom sizes’ from the ‘Paper size’ menu
- In the ‘Manage custom sizes’ window, hit the + button, type in the required dimensions, and select ‘OK’
- To save your settings, select ‘Save current settings as preset’ from the drop-down menu
- Also make sure that any drivers you need are installed
- Head to ‘Settings’
- Select ‘Devices’
- Select ‘Printers & Scanners’
- Choose your printer & click on ‘Manage’
- Go to printing preferences
Next steps for a Zebra
- Number of copies: 1
- Speed: 2 “/s
- Density: 30
- Label type: user defined
- Paper size: inch & portrait
- Width: 4.00
- Height: 6.00
- Click ‘Apply’ to save your settings
Next steps for a DYMO
- Click ‘Advanced’
- For paper size, choose ‘1733907 4 in x 6 in’ and click ‘OK’
- Click on ‘Apply’ to save your settings
Print your postage labels with Sendcloud
After you’ve set up your printer, you’re ready to print with Sendcloud in just one click. Here’s how you can link your printer to Sendcloud:
- Head to created labels >Print settings
- Download the print app from Sendcloud
- Install the app by opening the downloaded file
- Choose your printer
- Select the desired size of your labels
- Click on ‘Remember selection’. (On Mac, you will need to drag and drop the print app to your finder to save the file).
Still having issues? Get in touch with our Customer Success department — we’ll help you troubleshoot and resolve any problems quickly.
Need more help with your shipping?
Check out our guides on the following topics for the most efficient advice on your shipping process: