Brother P-Touch PT-E550W

Thu, Jul 3, 2014

Calling all electricians! Give your expert work the professional look it deserves.

Once again I’ve been lucky enough to get my grubby paws on another fantastic printer before it hits the shelves. Brother’s P-Touch E550W is the new big boy of their hand-held label printers. Targeted mainly at electricians, this printer is going to be a big hit on the market as it’s packed full of features and is a very affordable competitor on the current market.

Here is a rundown of the main features this printer has to offer:

  • Rubber clicky QWERTY keyboard.
    Unlike their previous, cheaper and competitor’s models the rubber buttons click to confirm its been fully pressed, almost like a mechanical keyboard. It’s in the standard QWERTY layout that is will be very familiar to you as computers and most smart phones use this layout.
  • Lithium Ion battery.
    This battery lasts a very long time, possibly the longest lasting out of Brother’s P-Touch range. It also provides the extra power required for the heat shrink marker tapes.
  • Large backlit display with real-size label preview.
    Label preview on previous models hasn’t been up to scratch but this time it’s real-sized so what you see is what you get. This sized screen also helps make the menus clear and easy to read. The backlight makes the printer useable in little to no light environments.
  • Only uses the TZe tapes.
    Brother’s patented TZe tapes are long lasting, strong and versatile. This also means there are no compatibles which we’re sorry about; but what we’re not sorry that you’ll be getting the highest quality consumables available for your printer.
  • Automatic electric cutter with part-cut.
    The cutter is automatic but can also be activated at a press of a button. It also features part-cut which will cut the tape but not the backing paper; this is useful if you’re printing a lot of labels in one go and don’t want them falling on a dirty floor of a basement, being blown away in the wind up scaffold tower or wherever you are.
  • Quick labels type buttons.
    Normal, vertical, set size, repeat (wire wrap), wire flag, patch/fuse panel and punch down blockNEW. These are the label types you use most often so to help you switch between them quickly there’s preset buttons across the top in white.
  • Preset wire sizes.
    When printing flag or wrap labels you are required to know the diameter of the cable but not anymore! The printer has a memory of preset cable diameters including but not limited to CAT5e & coax.
  • Mini USB.
    Use this connection to transfer and save your most common label designs, company logos and database tables (Excel & Access) for easy access on the move. The saved label designs allow you print the same labels with or without editing them first. The database connectivity makes use of the label templates so you can print a long string of different labels at the press of a button without having to enter all the details again.
  • WiFi.
    When out on a job, you may wish to use your smartphone to get the job done whatever the reason. With the E550W you can print from a smartphone using the free Android app (Apple app coming soon). You can save, recall and insert images from the app.
  • All symbols now listed under their categories.
    Electrical, safety, etc. What more can be said. It’s all the symbols you’ll ever need as an electrician and some extra!
  • Large memory capacity.
    Enough memory for 99 labels. It’s highly unlikely you’ll save that many labels but just in case you do there’s enough memory for it. This is also the shared memory for custom logos and databases.
  • Heatshrink wire marking.
    Brother’s HSe heatshrink tubing have been a long time in the making but they’re finally here!* They’re a perfect non-adhesive alternative to marking your cables.**

I’ve been told it’s to be launched at the end of July 2014 at a retail price of around £190 but we’ll just have to wait and see. Turns out the information was correct!

I had fun playing with this printer and to anyone thinking of getting a Brother P-Touch or similar competitor, I would recommend you wait just a few weeks for this model to become available; I doubt you’ll regret buying one!

Check out their promotional video:

*The heatshrink tubes are only compatible with the P-Touch E550W as it is physically more demanding on the hardware. Using the heatshrink tubes with another model may cause printhead damage, motor damage, faster battery drainage and decreased life of the cutter blade.
**These tubes will not slide over most plugs or sockets and are more commonly used on cables before a plug or socket has been attached.

LabelStation Pro label printer with peel and present

Fri, Apr 4, 2014

What does it do?

When a print job is sent to the printer, it will print the first label whilst peeling the backing paper away simultaneously. The internal sensor will detect when the peeled label is removed and continue to print the rest of the queue (if any) using the same method.

Below is a flow diagram to best explain the process between pressing print and getting labels.

Why would you need it?

Above is the peel and present attachment for the LabelStation Pro label printer.
Below is a picture of the peeler fitted to a LabelStation that has just printed and peeled the label.

How does it work?

The peeler is fitted to the front of the printer where the printed labels exit. The backing paper is pulled tightly at an acute angle under the metal bar at the front of the printer. The rigidity of the label causes it to automatically peel away from the backing paper and continue forward until the roller stops.

How to set it up:

  1. Switch off the printer before opening the clamshell.
  2. Open the printer and fold down the peeler.
  3. Load your labels as you normally would but remove a couple from the start (Never let any labels go through the peeler, they must always pass the peeler).
  4. Feed the backing paper under the peeler roller and through the slot.
  5. Pull the backing so it’s not too loose, careful not to pull any of the backing paper through that still has labels attached.
  6. Close the peeler so that the backing is between the peelers roller and printer’s rubber roller.
  7. Close the printer and check that the backing folds over the metal bar before switching back on.
  8. Set the post-print action in your labelling software to “Peel”, otherwise you may end up pile of labels all stuck together possibly causing a paper jam and damage to the printer.

This peeler attachment is compatible with most types of adhesive labels on non-perforated backing.
This peeler is not compatible with continuous labels, non-adhesive labels or labels that are more than one across the web.

LabelStation Industrial with fitted rewinder

Mon, Mar 31, 2014

Our LabelStation Industrial Label Printer has the option for a unique factory-fitted, built-in label roll rewinder.

Below are a couple examples of why you would need an internal rewinder on this printer.

Example 1: PAT Labels

You’re an electrician who does portable appliance testing. You currently write on each label by hand at the time of testing. With the growth of your business and more tests to do you’re starting to get lazy and messy with the details on each label to keep up with demand. Even writing them at home in the evenings isn’t solving a problem.
You buy a LabelStation Industrial 300 with a factory-fitted internal rewinder. You design the label on your computer which takes just a few minutes using the bundled software. You can print your company name, phone number, initials, date and even an automatic sequential APP ID number (with optional barcode). It takes just a few minutes to set up and then you just leave it to print. It automatically rewinds the printed labels onto an empty core. When it’s done printing you’re left with a roll of labels printed with all the required details. It leaves a professional impression that you want your customers to see and leaving contact details for repeat business.

Most PAT labels are pre-printed before taking them out to a job. This way the testing can be done quickly and efficiently with no errors when writing on the labels. With these smaller, intricate labels you would need a 300 DPI resolution printhead. Please call our sales team for more information and to place an order on 01202 683212.

Hover mouse over image below
to highlight the internal rewinder
fitted with a 25 ⇒ 76mm core adaptor

Example 2: Horticultural Tags

You run a garden centre and you frequently sell a lot of a particular plant. You don’t keep too many of this plant in stock as you don’t have the space but you get the stock replenished as often as you can. This item is priced up using loop locks which you write on using a ballpoint pen. Maintaining stock and assisting customers is taking up time leaving you unable to tag stock before it sells.
You buy a LabelStation Industrial 200 with the fitted rewinder. Instead of printing the amount you need at the time, you print an entire roll of 1,000 loop locks and use the built-in rewinder. This way you got the printed labels to hand when you need them without having to write, load up the software, template or change any other labels that may be already be in the printer. Not only that they are on a roll so can be stored safely without potentially getting damaged if stored in another manner. All the details are the same and you have enough space to fit company information for repeat business.


The LabelStation Industrial has always been a powerful and versatile label printer. The built-in rewinder is a great addition to this unit that frees up time while getting more done.
If you know that you’re going to be printing a large quantity of duplicate labels or the same style labels with serialised or database-inputted information, the built-in rewinder will be a valuable addition to the LabelStation Industrial saving you time.

Brady BMP41 Overview

Thu, Mar 20, 2014

This is the Brady BMP41 hand-held label printer, Brady’s latest mobile printer.
Launched late 2013, this printer came flying into the stream bursting with features and functionality. With it’s price tag between the BMP21 and BMP51 and it’s functionality between the BMP51 and BMP71, this printer is boasting to be the best.
Brady set the benchmark when it comes to usability. I found it very easy to print 5 sequential barcodes by pressing only 12 buttons, from power-on to print in under 15 seconds!
The clear display is backlit and has a higher DPI than equivalent Dymo and Brother models. The backlight is active from the first time you switch the printer on which is helpful as it saves hunting around for the buttons if you’re already in a low-light environment. If you’re not in complete darkness and would like to save some battery power, you can always switch it off.
The rubber keyboard clicks so you know you’ve successfully pressed a button (if you’ve ever used a rubber keyboard that doesn’t click, you’ll know that sometimes you may have pressed the button but not hard enough for it to be registered), has the QWERTY layout making it very easy to use and it’s very responsive. It’s likely you’re reading this on a computer and you’d know it’s easier to type on a QWERTY keyboard than an ABC keyboard. An ABC keyboard sounds easy because all the letters are in order but believe me, if you’re in a hurry it is fairly useless.

Lets start with the feature that everyone’s shouting about; drop-proof.
I know I can be clumsy at times but I don’t think even I would be clumsy enough to drop a £200 printer. However, if you are r you fear it might fall while on a job then there is nothing to worry about. I’ve been told stories of people throwing these around rooms and they still working right away (this is not recommended though). I’ve seen first-hand a Brady representative drop one from head-height, the front and rear cover came flying off but once these bits were popped back into place, it switched on and continued to work as if nothing happened. I’ve had plenty of hands-on use with this printer and I still haven’t the heart to drop-test it myself.

The BMP41 will print both Code 39 and Code 128. You can manually adjust the height and ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. You can also adjust the width of 1, 2 or 3 dots and add a check digit. Not all barcodes require a human readable option so this is also a setting that can be adjusted or switched off.

Label types
Here’s what I made earlier.

Terminal Block, Patch Panel and 66-Block are the essentially same thing but with preset sizes. They can be printed horizontally or vertically.
DesiStrip is the same as General but with a locked size which can be adjusted.
Wire Wrap repeats the data down the label so it can be viewed from any angle when fitted to the cable.
Wire Flag displays the data at the start and finish of the label with an adjustable gap in-between that is attached to the cable.

Lets have a look at some specifications:

Max roll width 1″ (25.4mm)
Keyboard type QWERTY
Display 50mm x 33mm backlit LCD
Barcode types Code39 & Code128
Computer connectivity USB
Label types General, Wire wrap, wire flag, terminal block, patch panel, 66-Block, DesiStrip
Save labels? Save to internal memory or to USB memory stick.
Battery Included rechargeable pack.

Lets have a sneaky peak at the screen. It’s a bit tricky to photograph the screen so my apologies for the quality.

Looks simple enough but what does it all mean?

A 12pt
The current font size
The part number of the cartridge installed
90 Deg
The rotation of the design that will be printed (if any).
The type of label
(see “Label types” in table above)
25.4 x 9.6mm Auto
The size of label that will be printed.
Automatic but can be set to manual.
Area 1 of 1
Which label area you are currently viewing of the total areas.
This is your label design, it can be whatever you want from text to barcodes to icons.
[ roll icon ]
How much media is left in cartridge
Extra details such as function lock, caps lock, bold etc. [ battery icon ]
Battery status

A quick run down to sum up the printer
This printer’s functionality, price and versatility is nothing short of surprising for it’s value. After knowing what customers want from a printer and what is dominating the market I couldn’t have expected more from this unit. The built-in clock allows for time and/or date stamping at time of print. Also when choosing to print a long string of labels it gives you the option to pause at any time so you don’t get too ahead of yourself. The vast colour, size and material options on the available media means you’ll always find the label to suit you.

New Trade Counter Now Open

Tue, Jan 7, 2014

Come visit our new trade counter!

Pop in to place an order or you can order online or over the phone (0800 975 5040) and ask to collect.

The trade counter is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Where are we?

We have moved! We can now be found at:

58 Nuffield Road
Nuffield Industrial Estate
Poole, Dorset
BH17 0RT

Just look for the huge “LabelZone” sign.

Click here to see where we are using Google Maps

Brother QL/TD label printers comparison

Tue, Apr 9, 2013

The following printers all have USB and RS232. They also print very quickly onto DK rolls up to 102mm wide and have built-in automatic cutters.

The Brother QL-1050 Label Printer is the most basic of these printers. With all the above details that are the same across the range.

The Brother QL-1060N Label Printer is the same as the 1050 but also has Ethernet connection.

The Brother TD-4000 Label Printer doesn’t print onto DK rolls but will in fact print on to Brother’s RD labels. Its maximum print width is 102mm but labels of any size can be used. Even bespoke sizes that are not immediately available off the shelf!

None of these printers have Wi-Fi but the QL-1060N can connect via a wire to a wireless network and other wireless devices can print to it.

P-Touch desktop label printer comparison

Tue, Apr 2, 2013

All the following printers can connect to a computer via USB and have a maximum print width of 62mm. They all use the Brother P-Touch Editor software which is a free download from the Brother website.

The Brother QL-500 label printer is the most basic label printer and is currently the cheapest. It prints quickly and has a manual cutter. This means you have to slide a thumb-sized tab to the right to cut between labels. This isn’t required but it helpful to separate labels or cut the continuous rolls to the desired size.

The Brother QL-560 Label Printer is the same as the QL-500 but has an automatic electric cutter instead. Again this isn’t required and can be switched off in the P-Touch Editor software.

The Brother QL-650TD Label Printer has USB and serial (RS232) connection. It also has built-in memory to save label templates to the printer to be printed without a computer connected. It also has a built-in clock to print labels with the current date and/or time. The dates and times can have calculations for use as expiry labels such as a car park expiry time or a “use by date” on food.

The Brother QL-700 Label Printer is the cheapest in the newer range. It prints very quickly and has a built-in automatic cutter. It also has the P-Touch Editor Lite software built-in to its memory so no installation is required for using the printer but for more advanced options the software can be downloaded quickly and easily from the Brother website.

The Brother QL-710W Label printer is the same as the QL-700 but has wired Ethernet connection to print from multiple computers on a network and from a compatible smart phone with Brother’s “iPrint&Label” App.

The Brother QL-720NW Label Printer is again the same as the previous QL-710W but with the additional serial connection and Wi-Fi to connect wirelessly to a network for multiple computers to access at any time allowing it to be moved around and with one less cable to lose.

Brother industrial handheld label printer comparison

Tue, Mar 26, 2013

The Brother P-Touch 7100 handheld label printer is the cheapest P-Touch specifically targeted at electricians. It will print on TZ tape sizes between 3.5 and 12mm. It has an ABC keyboard, large 1-line display, 9 font styles. It comes supplied with a hard carrycase and mains adaptor but can run from 6 AAA batteries.

The Brother P-Touch 7500 handheld label printer is much larger and heavy duty. It will print up to 7 lines on TZ tapes between 6 and 24mm. It has a large 2-line backlit LCD. It too comes supplied with a hard carrycase and mains adaptor but can run from 6 AA batteries.

The Brother 7600 handheld label printer has all the same features and the 7500 but also has USB to connect to a computer to design labels templates and upload company logos to the printer’s memory. It is supplied with the same hard carrycase, mains power adaptor but will also run off the included rechargeable battery pack instead of just 6 AA batteries.

Quick tip: The battery pack is not compatible with the 7500 so if you’re a busy electrician you need to decide if 6 AAs at a time is going to cut it for you in the long term. These printers will last a very long time, so the 7600 with a rechargeable battery pack is the way forward as you can use 6 AAs should the battery pack go flat or you forget to charge it while you’re out on a job.

Print speeds: Fast = 10mm per second.

Brother P-Touch industrial desktop label printers comparison

Tue, Mar 19, 2013

The following printers can be connected to a computer via USB which will allow for extra fonts and font styles installed on the computer to be used. All printer-installed fonts are listed in the table below.

Print speeds: Fast = 10mm per second. Very Fast = 20mm per second. Super Fast HG = 80mm per second on HG tape and 20mm per second on TZ tape.

The Brother P-Touch 2730 label printer is at the low-end of the high-end scale. Its fast 7-line printing will give you 8 different fonts that you can preview on a large, backlit, 3-line display and will also produce 9 different barcodes types. It will print on TZ tapes up to 24mm with an automatic electric cutter. This comes supplied with a mains adaptor and a USB cable.

The Brother 3600 label printer is the same as the 2730 but will print on TZ tape up to 36mm (the model name is a coincidence though). It is one of four of the fastest P-Touch printers (known here as the “Very Fast” speed of 20mm per second). It has two extra fonts and a few more font styles. The display is not backlit on this unit.

The Brother 9600 label printer is again similar to the 2730 but is also similar to the 3600. It will print on TZ tapes between 6 and 36mm. Again it is in the fastest printing range and can print up to 16 lines of text. You have 10 fonts to choose from, 18 font styles and 9 barcode types. It features a QWERTY keyboard with hard keys (hard like a computer keyboard, not rubber like the other P-Touch printers) and the large 3-line display is backlit. The automatic cutter can also part-cut allowing a long string of labels to be printed without piling up in a big mess.

The Brother 9700 and 9800 label printer are the same but the 9800 has an RJ45 Ethernet connection for connection to multiple computers on a network (perfect for offices, factory or warehouse networks). These printers will print on both TZ tapes (in the “Very Fast” speed) and the HG tapes (in the “Super Fast” speed). The tapes can be between 3.5 and 36mm. It has an automatic cutter that will cut fully or part-cut. You can print up to 16 lines before it becomes unreadable. These can also be connected by serial (RS232).

Brother desktop label printer comparison

Tue, Mar 12, 2013

The Brother 1290DT label printer is the second cheapest P-Touch printer that features an easy-to-use QWERTY keyboard. It provides a wide, clear LCD display, a selection of two fonts and will print up to two lines quickly on TZ tapes between 3.5 and 12mm. This printer will also power from the included mains adaptor or 6 AAA batteries. It is one of a very limited selection that includes a stand that is also a desk tidy.

A very big jump in the terms of features is the Brother P-Touch 2030VP label printer. This comes with a hard carry case and a power supply but will also run from 6 AA batteries instead. This fast printer is compatible with TZ tapes between 3.5 and 18mm. This can print up to 5 lines with 4 different fonts. The large LCD display also makes it a clear to use and preview your label. The window on the top means you can see which tape size and colour is loaded without having to fumble around turning it over.

The Brother P-Touch 1230 label printer is the cheapest USB-only label printer from Brothers’ range. It is fairly low-end so despite its fast printing and almost infinite supply of fonts (downloadable True Types fonts are available for your PC) it will only print on TZ tapes between 3.5 and 12mm. It requires 6 AAA batteries to run or the available AD24 power adaptor.

The Brother P-Touch 2430 label printer is the bigger brother (no pun intended) of the 1230. It too has an almost infinite supply of fonts but has the addition of printing 18 different types of barcodes. This fast printer can print up to 7 lines of text and is supplied with its own mains power adaptor but can also run on 6 AAAs instead.

The P-Touch 1230 and 2430 label printer are common purchases for electricians as they are compatible with some PAT testing equipment. This means an item can be tested and the printer will produce a “PASSED” or “FAILED” label with the company name, tester’s initials, test date and re-test date.

Print speeds: Fast = 10mm per second.

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