Portable printers talk language of barcodes and RFID

1 min read

Portable printers manufacturer Extech Data Systems says demand for its more intelligent systems is growing as barcode and RFID label applications spread in a range of industries.

Tony Revis, general manger of Extech’s portable printer division, claims that manufacturers are increasingly using them not only for warehouse applications but in production and supply chain management as well. “We’re working for one of the big five automotive companies, for example, where they need to be able to print new labels anywhere – in receiving, shipping, production, wherever components or assemblies need re-tagging for whatever reason,” he explains. The company competes with the likes of Zebra and O’Neil, and works with most of the barcode and RFID device specialists, including Intermec, Datalogic and Psion Teklogix. “We’re also looking towards solving some of the problems with RFID labels – for example, by offering human readable portable document printing at various stages in the supply chain alongside the RFID tags,” says Revis. “That could be for the pallet, box, or even at the item level for verification using contactless reader technology for smart cards and RFID tags.” He also indicates that portable printers like these are moving away from low cost commodity items. Intelligent devices are now capable of executing against rules-based business logic as well as offering rapid data transfer, template storage, multiple functions and security protection. For example, Extech’s latest battery-operated portable thermal four inch receipt printer (S4500THS) features high-speed wireless capabilities for serial, IrDA, Bluetooth and 802.11b communications, and handles graphics printing for mobile computing. And as for intelligence, it uses a 32-bit Arm 7 micro-controller, a flash-based CPU packaged with resident fonts, rotated fonts, downloadable fonts, graphics, logos and barcodes – but also with 2Mb flash memory and 1.2Mb SRAM for smart applications.