RFID Printers simultaneously print and encode RFID tags, saving users the time and hassle of otherwise manually encoding hundreds or thousands of RFID inlays. RFID Printers are an integral component in applications that use a large number of inlays because of their speed. On average, printers can print 20 labels per minute (depending on label size and printer speed) versus an average 3 labels per minute when encoding manually.
Once you decide that an RFID printer would be beneficial for your RFID application and you narrow down your options, the next step is to look at compatible printer software products. Before we walk through the available options, first we will look at why printer software is necessary, as well as it’s basic functionality.
Can you use RFID Printers Without RFID Printer Software?
Similar to generic printers, RFID printers can be used to print once the printer’s driver has been installed without an additional piece of software. However, not using RFID printer software is not recommended for a few reasons:
RFID Labels vary in size and thickness, which means that printing without software will typically result in formatting errors like incorrect spacing and alignment. Without printer software, encoding RFID tags with an RFID printer can only be done by communicating with the printer via the printer’s programming language, which can be extremely difficult to do, even for seemingly simple encoding.
Printer software provides an easy-to-use, visual interface that is the only accurate way to visually see what your RFID labels will look like before they are printed. Printer software is also the only way to create a unique design and manage your labels before, during, and after printing.
RFID Printer Software Functionality
RFID printer software will have different functionalities depending on which one that you choose. Let’s walk through some of the most basic functionalities across the board.
- Easy-to-use interface - typically this is a drag-and-drop interface with different object types, making the design process very easy.
- Label design ability - Designing labels of all sizes can be done on most RFID printer software.
- Create or use pre-existing label design templates - Users can start from scratch, use a pre-designed template from the software program, or use a pre-existing template from a different project.
- Smart wizards to guide you through the entire process - Typical RFID printer software includes multiple setup wizards for different steps in the label design process as well as the RFID encoding process.
- Print barcodes - Barcodes can be created, managed, and printed easily, including more complex barcode schemes like SGTIN or SSCC.
- Include pictures or shapes - Pictures, logos, or different shapes and graphics can be quickly added to your label design.
- Format text, fonts, and colors - Basic fonts and text options are available on most RFID printer software products.
- Import excel or CSV files for encoding - Files containing the data for encoding the RFID labels can easily be imported from excel or CSV files. Most popular printing software supports other database options as well.
- Basic serialization for encoding - Some printer software products will allow you to create the encoding data directly in the program instead of importing by use of basic serialization.
RFID Printer Software Options
There are many popular RFID printer software options available, and we are going to take a closer look at 2 of them - ZebraDesigner Software and BarTender Software.
ZebraDesigner Pro Barcode & RFID Software
ZebraDesigner Pro can only be used with Zebra Printers, both RFID and non-RFID alike. Custom labels can be easily designed and printed on one of their industrial, desktop, or mobile printers with little to no prior knowledge or barcoding or labeling using their Microsoft Office-style interface. ZebraDesigner is an intuitive software interface that can be downloaded as a free trial before purchasing a license code.
BarTender Software by Seagull Scientific
BarTender Software has been on the market for over a decade and is one of the most well-known RFID printer software products. It can be used on over 6,500 printers and counting, including RFID and non-RFID printers from brands like Canon, IBM, SATO, Zebra, and Honeywell.
Four versions of this software are available with differing levels of functionality as well as number of printer licenses, all depending on the users’ needs. The Starter Edition doesn’t include RFID encoding functionality; however, at the next level up, the Professional Edition has basic functionality in addition to features like configurable data-entry forms, digital die cutting support, and label data database sourcing. At the top level, the Enterprise Edition includes advanced functionalities like the creation of workflows, dynamic web-based printing, centralized print management tools for corporate networks. Checkout the Edition Comparison Guide here.
Read more about BarTender Software in our article - BarTender Software: The Top 22 Questions, Answered.
For more information about RFID Printer Software - comment below or feel free to contact us with any questions!