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ARTICLE - How to Put a Barcode on a Product
21 Aug 2014

Putting a bar code on your product involves several steps;

1 - Having a code or creating one.

2 - Choosing the right place to put the code

3 - Choosing the method to affix or print the code

4 - Having a perfect image of the bar code 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 codes. (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.) More on how to get a code later.

If you intend to use the bar codes for purposes only internal to your business, then you may be able to print your own. An example of this would be a serial number that goes on a product you are using. Each serial number will be different and you want to print them out yourself. This can be okay, but if security is a concern you might not want to.

2. Where to put the bar code - Are you going to put the code on the product itself? This can be complicated. If the product is say a circuit board that will go inside a computer, then the bar code will need to be very small and resistant to heat - it will probably be necessary to have these labels printed by a company that specializes in such a thing. On the other hand, if the label is going to go on the outside of a box, you may be able to print these yourself, perhaps using a dedicated bar code printer and/or special 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, labels may require special adhesives. If the code is to be used for tracking fixed assets - like desks, chairs, file cabinets, computers, or construction machinery - you will want labels or tags that will not come off and will not be easily destroyed. There are many companies that can provided coded tags made out of metal, with permanent adhesives that can withstand extreme temperatures.

It is often worthwhile to purchase a dedicated bar code printer to produce large quantities of labels cheaply and without trouble. There are many types of label printers and generally these are easy to use and fit right on your desktop.

For large quantities of labels, or for printing codes on tags, wristbands and other interesting places - a specialized bar code printer is the best method.

4. Have a perfect image - there are very precise specifications for the creation of these codes. 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 readers. Therefore the actual printing of the code should be done by a specialist who will test the code with a special device (called a Verifier) to ensure it is 100% accurate.

If the bar codes 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 printed label before you print thousands of them. Plenty of people have gone and printed codes without ever testing them, only to find that eventually, for some reason, the code was not readable. Always test your codes before you put them on things.

By Craig Aberle

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