There are dozens of label printer manufacturers and software packages available. We recommend researching label printers thoroughly to find one that meets your budget and your needs.
- Consider the number of new items, chemicals, or samples that your team will be adding to LabArchives Inventory on a regular basis. Some printers are designed for low volume label printing and print at a slower speed while others are for high performance printing.
- Look for printers that are accurate enough for the labels that you need. As an example, if you print a QR code on a very small label it may be difficult to scan.
- Investigate the supported label sizes and types of label printers (direct thermal, thermal transfer, laser printers, ink etc.). Be sure to check pricing, and availability for printing ribbons or label refills.
- Consider interoperability with other printing needs. As an example, if you print labels for shelves or workspaces, look for a printer that supports larger labels.
- Consider the amount of desk or workstation real estate that you have for a printer.
- If the printer requires a wired or wireless connection make sure that there is a computer, tablet, or phone nearby that can run the software.
- Always check with IT or your institution for details on maintenance, installation, and technical support for devices that you purchase.
Some label printing software is extremely easy to use while other applications require more training. In testing out the printing software look for:
- Overall Ease of Use
- Ability to support multiple Label Sizes or Shapes
- Bulk Import via CSV or Excel
- Ability to add images or institution branding
- Ability to create QR codes
- Ability to save Label Templates for future use
- Interoperability with other institution resources
Label Manufacturers have custom sizes, adhesives, and durable materials made for research use. Request samples and test out a few different options to find the best labels for your needs.
Label Size and Shape
- Walk around your facility and consider the various items that should have a label. Measure the items to determine the best label sizes for the materials that you have. You want the label to be large enough so you can have all fields that you need but small enough, so they still fit on the items.
- Some label manufacturers provide specific sizes for items like vials, tubes, and plates. You can also find color-coded labels. The label color for the label can coordinate with the Inventory type color in LabArchives Inventory. To learn more about inventory types, click here.
- Consider the amount of text that you want to include on the label and the expected number of characters that could be used in each field. It’s recommended to standardize sample and item naming conventions. Using Custom Inventory Types in LabArchives Inventory, you can set controlled vocabulary and terms for the items that your team manages.
- You may have a set of items like a miniprep kit or aliquot where each item needs a label but it may be tracked as just one item in LabArchives inventory. Look for labels that are available as multi-label sets.
Not all labels are made the same and it’s very important to select the right label for your needs. In a research environment, a label could encounter:
- Low temperatures (Such as ice baths or freezers)
- Heat (Such as autoclaves, microwave ovens, or hot plates)
- Water (water baths, sinks, or lab washers)
- Various Cleaners, Solvents, and harsh chemicals (xylene, ethanol, acetone, bleach, or strong acids)
- UV Light (UV lamps, transilluminators, lamps in biological safety cabinets)
Look for labels that are durable or high-performance labels designed for research or health care use. Keep in mind that some labels have very strong adhesives making them difficult to remove or use while wearing gloves.