Barcode printers belong to a special category of printers that facilitate printing of tags or barcode labels which can be directly attached to physical objects. They are commonly employed in labeling retail items or cartons with European Article Numbers or Universal Product Codes before shipment. Hospitals or event organizers use these barcodes for personal identification.
The growth of organized retail and point of sale purchases is a major driver for this market. The growing demand for barcode wristbands is expected to have a positive impact on market growth. The growing trend of having a mobile sales force which carries out on-field transactions will drive the market over the forecast period. The major restraint in the barcode printers market is the growing acceptance of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which has more benefits than barcodes. The barcode printers market is undergoing commoditization as many Asian companies are offering them at low prices.
Desktop printers, industrial printers, and mobile printers are the basic offerings in this market. Desktop printers are used in the printing of barcode wristbands, mid volume labels, and receipts. Industrial printers aid in process-oriented applications such as order labeling and warehouse labeling. Mobile printers are basically used by employees in an organization for printing labels, tickets, and receipts at any given time and place. The barcode printers are designed to work day long and in harsh environments.
The print technologies available in the market can be divided into two primary categories such as non-impact and impact printing methods. Impact printing is made up of drum and dot matrix printers whereas non-impact printing is made up of thermal transfer, direct thermal, inkjet printers, and laser printers. Dot matrix printing is the cheapest and oldest method to produce medium to low-density barcodes where dots are printed to generate a series of spaces and lines. Inkjet printing is used when barcodes need to be generated at a faster rate. Thermal printing uses thermal printhead that creates an imprint on the marked surface by heating method. This technology is expected to gain wide acceptance as it provides good image durability and its ability to function in critical applications. The principle behind the operation of laser printers is ions of ink getting attracted by charged paper particles and bond together by pressure and heat provided by a drum. Inkjet printers are not suitable for industrial applications. Direct thermal printing helps to create an image on the material and is suitable for applications where products have a shorter shelf life.
The major application segments in the barcode printers market are manufacturing, retail, healthcare, government and shipping. Inventory controls are established in manufacturing facilities with the use of barcodes that enable companies to track finished goods and work in progress goods. They are used in retail store for operations such as price-tag printing, point-of-sale purchase, shelf labeling and product labeling. In shipping, items are labeled with barcodes part number and validation of order number when the product reaches its destination. These printers are used in healthcare for preparing tags and wristbands that aid in tracking services, patient identification, surgical procedures, point of care medicines and surgical procedures. Governments have started using barcode printers for purposes such as e-citation, evidence tracking, clothing marking, ID card printing, public safety, managing records, and surveillance. This is expected to boost the barcode printers market over the forecasted period.
EMEA and North America are the key markets for barcode printers due to increased demand from Western European countries and the U.S. Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific are expected to contribute substantially to the market growth. The growth in these regions can be attributed to the increased investment by foreign companies in industrial and retail infrastructure. The increase in the number of manufacturers involved in selling low-cost barcode printers, primarily in Asia-Pacific has resulted in the market getting commoditized.
Key industry participants in the barcode printers market are Toshiba Tec, Zebra Technologies, Honeywell Scanning & Mobility, SATO Holdings, Avery Dennison, Printek Inc., Oki Electric Industry Co., Dascom, and Printronix.
Zebra technologies have developed an ultra-rugged scanner that claims to works perfectly even after 5000 tumbles. Toshiba has introduced SureMark range of barcode printers that mainly caters to the retail sector. Avery Dennison’s Barcode-Tischdrucker range is mainly designed to cater to industrial, logistics and retail purposes. Sato Holdings product range includes hand held barcode printers and thermal printers for retail and industrial purposes. Oki Electric Industry Co. has developed barcode printing solutions for healthcare, retail and office administration purposes. Printek Inc. specializes in the manufacturing of mobile printers and dot matrix printers. Printronix has differentiated its offering for small and big corporations. The barcode printer range of Dascom includes flatbed printers, specialty printers, thermal printers, nine pin printers and twenty-four pin printers.
Research Support Specialist, USA