In manufacturing environments, the demand for label printers continues to rise at a fast rate. From product labels to serial numbers to shipping labels, it is almost impossible for a product to ship out of a factory or warehouse without some type of identification sticker. It is no secret that warehouses, plants, and factories are oftentimes dusty and dirty and printers cannot survive in such harsh areas. The solution is an environmental enclosure. Printer enclosures can protect popular label printer brands like Zebra, Dymo, Brother, Seiko, or Sato from dust, dirt, grease, or even hose directed water and chemicals.
When configuring a printer enclosure for your company or customer, be sure to ask 3 questions to ensure the enclosure is appropriate for your specific needs.
How will the label(s) be accessed?
Before purchasing printer enclosures, understand how often the labels will be printed. This will dictate if a slot in the window door or a hinged printer access door should be installed/utilized on the enclosure. Busy manufacturing factories can print upwards of 100 labels every hour, if not more. A slotted path is ideal for continuous label access and will feed the labels quickly and efficiently out of the cabinet. A hinged printer door is a better solution for a company that only prints a minimal number of labels per hour.
Label access goes hand in hand with the level of enclosure protection. If dust, grease, or water is a primary concern for enclosing the printer, consider the trade-offs of using a printer access door over a slotted path. A printer access door will provide an environmental seal around the enclosure to keep dirt, dust, and liquids away from the printer. Also consider environmental concerns, such as freezer locations or cold warehouses, which pose problems for thermal transfer printers. Small heaters or filtered fan systems are common thermal management systems installed on printer enclosures to provide heating or cooling throughout the year.
What is the return on investment?
Integrators may be conflicted with the decision to spend a large amount of budget on environmental printer enclosures. Considering the price of the enclosure, is it worth spending money on a NEMA rated printer enclosure or could the printers be used daily without any protection? Understand the actual cost of replacing a barcode printer – contemplate the cost to purchase a new unit, as well as, the downtime associated with employees unable to use the printer to complete tasks.
First and foremost, make sure that the chosen enclosure(s) is NEMA rated to protect against harmful elements in a factory, warehouse, or plant. Printer enclosures will extend the life of a barcode label printer, while offering security and protection from outside factors. In the industrial enclosure industry, ‘you get what you pay for’ is a very honest statement. Always shop around and find the enclosure solution that will best fit the needs of your business, while providing a safe environment for your printer.
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