What is a computer imprintable label?

Computer imprintable is the term used for an item that is printable using a desktop PC and printer, e.g. dot matrix, laser, inkjet or thermal transfer printer, and using material such as polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene, vinyl, polyimide.

Other terms with the same meaning include:

  • Computer printable
  • Variable data printable
  • Variable data imprintable

The term computer imprintable label was created after desktop printing started to become commonplace during the 1980s and 1990s.

The first desktop printers used dot matrix print technology with an ink impregnated ribbon and a 9 or 24 pin print head that pushed the ribbon into the print media (paper) in a series of dots to leave an image. Paper is porous and therefore the image remained on the paper.

Paper labels were perfectly printable using the dot matrix method and the evolution of personal computing and label printing software meant that you could print your own labels with variable data such as serial numbers, batch numbers, date codes, etc.

The increasing variety of data that could be printed onto labels meant that manufacturers started using labels on products and parts that needed greater durability, therefore synthetic materials started to be used as label materials.

The problem with synthetic materials is that the ink from a dot matrix printer would simply smudge off the label. To counter this, special computer imprintable coatings were developed and applied to the surface of synthetic labels during their production. This process resulted in the development of a range of durable printable materials and so the durable computer imprintable label was created.

Dot matrix printers are virtually obsolete and have been replaced by laser and thermal transfer printers. The print technology is different but the principle of a computer imprintable label is the same.

Contact us if you have a requirement for a durable label that you would like to print yourself. Just let us know what are wanting to label and what you would like to print.