Putting a bar code on your product involves several steps;
1 - having a barcode or creating one.
2 - choosing the right place to put the barcode
3 - choosing the method to affix or print the barcode
4 - having a perfect image of the barcode itself
Lets take these one at a time.
1. If you are producing items that will be sold in retail stores and you need bar codes for those products, you will have to buy them somewhere. You cannot just make up your own barcodes. (Example - your company is going to product various types of funny t-shirts that tourists will buy, in different colors and sizes and sell them through local stores in your town.) Click here for instructions on how to get a bar code.
If you intend to use the barcodes for purposes only internal to your business, then you may be able to print your own barcodes. An example of this would be a serial number that goes on a product you are using. Each serial number bar code will be different and you want to print them out yourself.
2. Where to put the barcode - Are you going to the barcode on the product itself? This can be complicated. If the product is say a circuit board that will go inside a computer, then the barcode will need to be very small and resistant to heat - it will probably be necessary to have these barcodes printed by a company that specializes in such a thing. On the other hand, if the barcode is going to go on the outside of a box, you may be able to print these yourself, perhaps using a dedicated barcode printer and/or barcode software. If the boxes are going to be exposed to long periods of sunlight, or extreme temperatures, be sure you get labels that can withstand such factors. Labels for jewelry tags may sit in display cases where temperatures can easily get into the high 90s or even over 100 degrees.
3. As mentioned in part 2 above, barcode labels may require special adhesives. If the barcode is to be used for tracking fixed assets - like desks, chairs, file cabinets, computers, or construction machinery - you will want bar code labels that will not come off and will not be easily destroyed. There are many companies that can provided barcode labels made out of metal, with permanent adhesives that can withstand extreme temperatures.
It is often worthwhile to purchase a dedicated barcode printer to produce quantities of labels cheaply and without trouble. There are many types of label printers and some can be found in the Products/Barcode printer section of our website. Generally these are easy to use and fit right on your desktop.
For large quantities of labels, or for printing barcodes on tags, wristbands and other interesting places - a specialized barcode printer is the best method.
4. Have a perfect barcode image - there are very precise specifications for the creation of barcodes. What you can create on your own computer and printer may not meet those specifications. If you are putting your products into the retail environment, they will have to be able to be scanned by hundreds of different types of barcode readers. Therefore the actual printing of the barcode should be done by a specialist who will test the barcode with a special device to ensure it is 100% accurate.
If the barcodes are simply to be used in your own company, you can easily print some yourself and then test them. It is highly recommended to test the barcodes before you print thousands of them. Plenty of people have gone and printed barcodes without ever testing them, only to find that eventually, for some reason, the barcode was not readable. Always test your barcodes before you put them on things.
To try creating your own barcodes, click on this link: Make a barcode.
Written by Craig Aberle
If you liked this article, try some other articles in our Learn Section.
YouTube Video's that illustrate how to make labels and bar codes:
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