On the left-hand side is the slot where the labels come out. They can be 3.5, 6, 9, 12 or 18mm wide and come in 8m lengths, in drop-in cartridges. There’s a good range of coloured backgrounds, including red, orange, green and blue, as well as clear and white.
P-Touch Editor: complex labels from a PC with a bit of fuss
Brother’s TZ tapes are activated by a thermal head in the printer, although the ink which changes from clear to black, or a limited range of other colours, is not on the surface layer. Using a transparent layer of PET over the ink substrate, the ink is activated through the top layer, so the finished label is much less susceptible to abrasion. Much like modern photo papers, the label tape is a laminate of, in this case, six different layers, including the adhesive and a backing paper, which has to be peeled off.
When printing labels, you either have to specify to chop off 23mm of blank tape before printing each label, or to create labels with 24mm of blank tape at each end of the printed text. Either method is wasteful, particularly if you’re printing short labels; in an 8m tape, chop-offs will account for over a metre, if your average label length is 100mm.
Quick Editor: simple labels from a PC without fuss
One of the highlights of the P-Touch 2100 package is the P-Touch Editor, but this is only available for versions of Windows from 2000 onwards. There's no specific support for OSX or Linux. The editor screen looks a bit like a desktop publishing editor, only for long, thin documents. Labels can be set to have a fixed length or the length can be left open and the label expands as text or other graphics are added.
As well as standard functions, such as justification of text, selecting font and size – any font available on your system can be used in a label – you can add geometric objects, such as polygons, ellipses and freehand lines and run text horizontally or vertically.
From serious to fun labels
That's really just the beginning, though, as you can also add from a wide range of clipart and symbols, provided in the program, add decorative frames, include date and time and calendar information and even subdivide a label by building in a table. Table cells can each contain different kinds of objects, providing a wide range of design possibilities.
Hasn't ANYONE read their manual, or just tried fiddling with the settings ?
The Brother label printers I've used have a setting to control the tape usage. If printing several labels, just turn down the tape setting and it shoves out less blank tape - you then need to cut the labels apart with scissors. The default setting adds blank tape to shift the printed label clear of the cutter PLUS sufficient extra blank tape to make the resulting labels symmetrical.
I've used different versions of these printers for years - wouldn't be without them.
PS - the labels are actually laminated - there is nothing high tech about this. Pull an old cartridge apart and you'll find that it contains three rolls of material. First there is the base - the background colour with adhesive and peel off backing paper. Then there is a roll of ordinary thermal transfer 'ink' in whatever colour the text is printed. Lastly there is a clear layer (with it's own adhesive back) which is laminated onto the front of the background after printing. The result is (as others have said) a very durable label.
Now if only they did Mac software for these.
Reducing wastage of label tape
If you know that you need to print several labels then the you can reduce the amount of tape wastage by printing one (long) label that contains all the text you want, separated by a few space characters, and then use a scissors to cut out the individual labels. For example, when labelling plugs, print one label that says "TV radio kettle toaster hi-fi DVD".
The reason I made the wastage comment is that the Dymo LabelWriter Duo, for example, doesn't waste tape in the same way. OK, it's a label printer, rather than a standalone label-maker, but it uses very similar technology. All it really needs to avoid the wastage is some way to wind the tape back, so the print head lines up with start of each label -- not too hard to achieve, I wouldn't have thought. I reckon 12% wastage on an average length of label is quite high.
Steve, I'll give you exclamation mark, but it still can't do (, ), ", _, +, = or @ from the keyboard, only by selection from a menu. Some symbols are more essential than others for labels, or course.
Very Useful tool...
I've used various iterations of the P-Touch and M-touch label machines for a number of years. They are ideal for just about any task that requires a label- I used mine primarily for labeling network and telcomm connections, printers, and servers. While the PC interface is a handy feature to have, it's only really useful for batch operations and a bit of mucking about with their software.
Agreed - I have a Dymo LabelPoint 150 for Network, system and labelling the tea and coffee jugs - and it does what it says on the tin - prints labels from the nice and small to the stupidly large to indicate a switch is dead and don't use it.
It's defiantly a tool an engineer should have if they're trying to document things and work out where they should go.
My soultion to the wastage (apart from printing smaller labels) is to use a pair of scissors to do trimming with - part of the issue is the amount of feed is required.
But unless you're printing every 5 minutes, tapes last for a fair old time in my experience