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Can I Use a Regular Printer to Print Labels?

Regular Printer Labels

With the right materials and templates, you can print labels from a regular printer. But you’ll need to set up your files carefully to match label sizes and be aware of how much time printing sheets of labels will take on a device that isn’t primarily designed for this use case.

You’ll also need to be aware of the type of printer you have because you don’t want your labels to smear, especially if you’re printing mailing labels.

Learn everything you need to know about using a standard printer for labels and top considerations to guide your decision-making.

Printing Labels on an Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printers are more popular than laser printers for standard home and office use. But be sure to check your printer to learn more about it before deciding to print your labels using it.

As shipping or production label volumes increase, you might want to consider a laser or thermal printer. This will offer more savings. But as you get started, you can use the inkjet printer you already have.

Inkjet Printer Advantages

  • They cost less to purchase initially
  • These printers are generally smaller in size, taking up less space on your desk

Inkjet Printer Disadvantages

  • Purchasing replacement ink is more expensive, even if you opt for generic brand replacements
  • These printers are slower than laser or thermal printers and often have smaller media trays, meaning you must reload label sheets frequently

Printing Labels on a Laser Printer

Laser printers are faster than inkjet printers, making them ideal if you need to print larger label volumes. If you’re just starting your business and beginning to print labels, you might not notice the difference in print speeds. But as your printing needs increase, faster print times will make a difference. 

Additionally, laser printers produce sharper images. So if you’re using the printer for product labels or you have a smaller font that you want to look crisp and clear, the laser printer will produce better results.

You’ll pay more upfront to purchase a laser printer, but the time savings might be worth it as your business grows.

Laser Printer Advantages

  • Faster print times
  • Sharper, cleaner label results
  • You can print more labels for about the same price as you would an Inkjet printer

Laser Printer Disadvantages

  • These printers are more heavy duty
  • They take up more desk space
  • Purchasing additional toner is expensive
  • You’ll need to ensure you purchase labels suited for a laser printer

Printing Labels on a Thermal Printer

Thermal printers are specifically designed to print labels. Some printers come with built-in label-roll cutters. Others have feeds for 4×6 shipping labels to make printing simple.

Using thermal technology for printing labels has many advantages, including removing the need to purchase ink or toner cartridges. But you get what you pay for, which means you’ll need to be prepared to pay more for this printer and its accompanying labels.

Thermal Printer Advantages

  • Purpose-built for printing labels
  • Fast and efficient when printing labels
  • No need to worry about buying ink or toner or keeping it on hand for when you run out

Thermal Printer Disadvantages

  • These printers are single-use, meaning they aren’t good for printing standard materials or making copies
  • They have a higher upfront cost than laser or inkjet printers

Printing Mailing Labels Using a Standard Printer

Most shipping carriers have online portals where you can purchase and download your shipping label. When you’re just getting started, you can print your mailing labels on regular paper, cut them out and attach them to your packages to keep costs low. But you should be aware that this won’t provide the most professional appearance. And you’ll need to ensure you cover the entire label with packing tape to avoid smudges or moisture damage, which could impact your delivery.

Ideally, you want to avoid handwriting your shipping labels because this will make your business look small and antiquated. You want to give your customers the best first impression when they see your package on their front porch. And if you’re handwriting your shipping label, it means you’ll need to go to your shipping carrier in person, pay the shipping costs and drop your package off. As your business grows, that could become too time-consuming.

Learn more about printing shipping labels on regular paper from our blog. You’ll find more in-depth tips and insights on how to support your growing business.

Printing Product Labels on a Standard Printer

Shipping labels are generally a standardized size no matter which carrier you use. That makes it simpler to anticipate how to print these materials because you don’t need to download a template to accomplish this.

But when you use a standard printer to print product labels, you’ll need to format the labels perfectly to ensure they print within the given space on the sheets of labels.

Most label sheets come with templates, so it shouldn’t be too complicated. The challenge can come in when you use uniquely shaped labels and need to create a product design to fit. You’ll need more graphic design skills to accomplish this and then you’ll need to test and retest how the label formatting translates to the page to ensure you don’t lose any crucial information to the margins.

This tedious process would be similar when using a label maker, but you can print just one label instead of a full 8.5×11 sheet when running tests. So there’s more waste involved in getting everything just right when using a standard printer.

Printing RFID Labels on a Standard Printer

For barcoding using a standard printer isn’t ideal because barcoding tends to be an on-demand print job. That means you aren’t likely printing a sheet full of codes at once, but instead printing them one-off as needed.

While it is possible to use a standard printer to print RFID or barcodes, it isn’t ideal. Plus, mobile printers are better suited for the job, especially in warehouse settings. Even small warehouses, such as a garage or storage unit for a growing small business, could become time-consuming to navigate barcoding when using a standard printer.

Investing in a specific barcode label printer, such as the Zebra ZD421 ZD4A042-D01M00EZ Desktop Barcode Printer, will best serve your business in this use case.

Regular Printer Labels

What’s the Difference Between a Normal Printer and Label Printer?

Most label printers are thermal printers. These printers do not use ink, ribbons or bonds. Instead, they use a heated print head and special labels that make your designs appear when that heat is applied. These special labels are made from thermal paper. And because the designs are not ink based, they won’t smudge or smear when a customer touches them or when traveling through the mail system.

Generally, label printers are also quite compact. Because they don’t need to accommodate sheets of 8.5×11 paper, they are much more compact and don’t take up as much desk space. Some label printers are even mobile, allowing you to wear them on a belt to add labels to products while on the go throughout your facility.

Where to Find High-quality Labels and Label Printers

As you evaluate the best way to print your labels, whether on a standard printer or a specialized label printer, you’ll need to find high-quality materials. DuraFast Label Company offers outstanding printers, labels and support to help you make the most of your printing assets. Contact us now to learn more and find the best option for you.

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