Frequent Questions

I am going to manufacture a new product and I need a UPC bar code.  How do I get it?

The Uniform Code Council is where you will find the information you need to register to get a UPC bar code.

What is a bar code and how does it work?

A bar code is an image that can be interpreted by a bar code scanning device to reflect a particular value.  The most common bar codes are linear-type bar codes.  This is the typical bar code that is on most retail packages and is scanned at the checkout counter.  These linear bar codes consist of black and white bars of varying widths.  The bar code reader digitizes the black and white image and determines the value of the bar code.  The bar codes you see on retail packages are UPC (Universal Product Code) bar codes and contain 11 digits.  Most linear bar codes contain 25 characters of data or less.

Many people think the bar code on the package contains the item description and price because when the bar code is scanned, this information is displayed and printed on your receipt.  This is not true, however the bar code only contains the item number.  The computer terminal at the check out counter looks up the product description and price in the computer's data base using the number read from the bar code.

How can bar code technology help with product recalls?

Bar codes are printed and used to identify specific batches of product.  This information is stored in a database and can generate a trail to specific locations of shipped and un-shipped products.  Click on Bar Code Software's CertainTRAC product to see how this product can help company's track their inventory in and beyond their warehouse.

How can I print a Bar Code Label?

Bar codes can be printed with existing dot matrix or laser printers, but with varying results.  Thermal label printers, on the other hand, are designed specifically for the job and are built to produce high-quality text and graphics.  They print at fast speeds and can be used to print one label at a time or an entire roll.  There are many different style printers each designed to fit specific needs.  Bar Code Software can help you pick the printer best suited for your needs.



How do I decide if I should use direct thermal or thermal transfer technology?

There are a number of different variables that need to be addressed before you can decide.

  • If you need to used a synthetic label, such as a polyester or kevlar, you will need to use thermal transfer.
  • If your labels are stored in direct sun light or need to be readable over a long period of time, such as over a year from when they are printed, you should use thermal transfer.  After a long period of time, especially if the labels are subjected to prolonged sun light, direct thermal labels have a tendency to turn dark, resulting in poor quality bar codes.
  • If the labels are stored in dry dark area after they are printed, and do not need a shelf life of over a year, you can probably use direct thermal technology.
  • With direct thermal technology, you do not need to use a ribbon.  The price of the direct thermal label is greater than price of the thermal transfer label, but it is less expensive than the combined cost of the label and ribbon needed for thermal transfer.
  • Some bar code label printers can print both direct thermal and thermal transfer, but other printers will only print direct thermal.  If you already have a printer, check with the manufacturer about the capabilities of the model you currently have.


When printing bar code labels, what is the difference between direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing? 

Direct Thermal Printing uses treated paper labels whose surfaces truns black when exposed to heat.  This is exactly how the older fax machines worked.

Thermal Transfer Printing requires the use of a ribbon.   When heat is applied, the ink is transferred from the ribbon to the label.

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Contact Info

Bar Code Software, Inc.
​Note we've moved our
​office to:

34295 Wilgus Cemetery Road
Frankford, DE   19945

Phone 410 360 7455
Fax     410 360 7456

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