RFID Printer Encoder Selection Criteria
RFID Printer / Encoder Selection Criteria
RFID printers/encoders are designed to work with smart labels, which are similar to RFID tags, except that they're printed with human-readable text and barcodes. Smart labels are commonly used as shipping labels in slap-and-ship applications because they're a low-cost alternative to traditional RFID Asset tags. The remainder of this article discusses how to choose an appropriate RFID printer/encoder, which assumes that you have a basic understanding of smart labels.
Choosing the proper RFID printer / encoder for the job is not hard, provided that you have composed a specific list of your requirements, such as your throughput needs and how much space will be available on each package for the smart label.
With that said, let's get more specific about what you'll need to consider when selecting an RFID printer/encoder:
To determine the optimal width of your smart labels, and hence the printer that can accommodate this width, you need to know the size of the area on each package where the smart label will be placed. In addition, you will need to consider much text will be printed on the label, as well as the dimensions of the actual barcode. You may want to experiment with label design software to find the most efficient way to spatially organize the information that will be printed on your smart labels. Do this can greatly reduce label costs over the long term. Why print on 4-inch labels when the data will fit on 3-inch labels?
The materials used for the both the label and its adhesive should be guided by the typical conditions under which the labels will be used. If the packages sporting the smart labels will be exposed to harsh conditions or heat, cold, moisture, dirt, etc., then it's wise to make sure that the material used to produce the smart labels will survive these conditions. Accordingly, your survivability requirements will also determine the type of RFID printer/encoder that you select.
How many labels to do you expect to print each day? When looking for an RFID printer, make sure that its duty cycle will accommodate your expected throughput.
Typical print resolutions are in the 200-300 dpi range, but the Datamax I-4604, for example, can print at 600 dpi.
Print speeds normally range from 1.2 inches per second to 10 inches per second. Your throughput needs will help you decide which print speed to look for.
Occasionally, some RFID tags (embedded in the smart labels) will not pass the encoding step of the process. While some RFID printers/encoders are able to detect failed tags, you'll need some human intervention to deal with the failed tags and to track how many tags fail per batch. Gathering such data will be useful in determining the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your printer/encoder(s).