Far from being the most exciting way to spend an afternoon, labelling is a pretty important part of office—or inventory—management. And you know what, after printing a few labels you kind of become addicted to it!
A dedicated label printer, such as the Epson LabelWorks LW-900P (£175.89 ex. VAT), hooks up to a computer and prints on self-adhesive label material (card-stock not supported). The process isn’t as intuitive as a label printer with a built-in keyboard and display, but the upside is that more customisation is allowed. And who wants to even attempt printing labels using a regular inkjet printer, right?
Epson’s LW-900P (85 x 182 x 146mm, 900g) thermal label printer is different from ordinary printers because it needs to have special feed mechanisms to handle rolled stock, or tear sheet (fanfold) stock. Connecting to Windows or Mac computer using USB 2.0 (there’s no RS-232 serial, parallel, Ethernet or wireless), the LW-900P could suit a wide variety of applications including supply chain management, retail price marking, packaging labels, and even fixed assets management.
The immediate disadvantage of the LW-900P is its lack of integrated keyboard and LCD screen for standalone operation. For mobile labelling, users will need to look at Epson’s LW-300 (£36.87 ex. VAT) and LW-400 (£50.94 ex. VAT). Thanks to its ability to connect to a computer and run the bundled software, the LW-900P has been designed to provide higher quality labels that allow for great customisation.
For instance, the LW-900P can print on multiple lines, supports an unlimited number of fonts (dependent on user’s PC), and supports both 24- and 36mm label widths. Besides the differences in application, all three models are compatible with a wide selection of Epson label tapes to cover virtually any labelling requirement.
The LW-900P allows sophisticated labels to be produced in a wide range of widths, yet is still simple to use. The included software enables label creation in just a few clicks, with a choice of pre-defined templates, frames, symbols, barcodes and pics.
Versatility is further enhanced with a choice of font types, character sizes, symbols, borders and styles. Using the supplied software, users can import data in csv, txt and xls(x) formats, create a layout corresponding to the column headings, and then print labels for each line of data. Users can also print a series of labels with incremental dates or figures.
The actual production of labels is made hassle-free as the LW-900P automatically detects the tape width, and automatically cuts or half-cuts the labels once printed. Its convenient integrated trimmer can round label edges, and a dedicated window displays how much tape remains.
Two 4-metre label tapes are included to get users started—36mm black-on-white and 12mm black-on-yellow. But the LW-900P isn’t limited to these types, thanks to Epson’s wide selection of labels in 6-, 9-, 12-, 18-, 24- and 36mm widths.
The range includes standard, black, transparent, matte and writable matte paper labels, index tab and flag or wrap cable labels, a variety of colours such as fluorescent and pastel, and two adhesive strengths. Prices range from around £13 to £45 (ex. VAT).
All labels are durable, resisting water and withstanding hot and cold conditions. To help with running costs, the LW-900P minimises the margins of each label to prevent tape wastage and, at 9 metres long, Epson’s economical tapes are some of the longest on the market.
Similar to Epson’s desktop inkjet printers, the LW-900P is a well built and robust printer. It’s also relatively easy to use—once the driver and utility software have been installed—and makes printing labels fun. Above all, the quality of printed labels is exceptional. With a resolution of 360dpi and a print speed of up to 25mm/s, high-quality labels are printed at a decent speed, too.
It’s not without its shortcomings, however. There’s no integrated keyboard, display or battery for standalone operation, nor are there dedicated buttons for quick access to cutting and printing functions. Label designs can’t even be saved on the printer because there’s no internal memory. If being tethered to a computer isn’t a problem, the LW-900P is an excellent label printer.