Windows Printer Drivers
Historically, nearly all thermal transfer and direct thermal printers have utilised proprietary, programming languages to "drive" the label printer. This responsibility typically required a programmer to either modify or generate host code. In comparison to the tools that are available today, changes were relatively difficult to make since every change to the label required a programming change. In addition, the label program was specific for the printer since each manufacturer had a different programming language. Most label manufacturers today support Windows print drivers which are similar to the Windows print drivers for a dot matrix printers. There are many advantages of using a Windows print driver for a label printer. (1) any Windows application can print to the printer, (2) any user can make changes to the label, and (3) the application is not tied to a specific printer.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers do not provide Windows print drivers at this time, but most will have them available in the near future. Certainly, there are benefits with the traditional approach. Printing speed is the primary advantage. If a label printer was purchased to print only one or two labels at a time, then programming the print language direct would increase performance substantially because only a stream of printer commands (or codes) are passed through the parallel or serial line as opposed to an entire image of label. An image file can easily be over one megabyte in size and thus take longer to transfer than a stream of several hundred characters. Most label print drivers, however, support an option to generate copies of a label so that the label image is initially transferred only one time, loaded into the printer memory, and extracted from memory to generate the specified number of copies. Obviously, this is much more efficient and the way most label printers are currently designed today.
In summary, if the label printer must create distinct labels on every label run (e.g. one-up-number to serialise a product), make sure that your application directly utilises the programming print language. There are some software applications that do this very thing, however, they are generally very expensive. Eventually, these programming languages will no longer be supported as new printers are introduced into the market. There are even some label printers today that only support Windows print drivers.