Dot matrix vs. laser printed labels

Darrel E. Snyder desnyder at PICEA.CNR.COLOSTATE.EDU
Mon Aug 5 11:25:55 CDT 1996

Mr. Chamberland:

As I understand the technology, the laser printers work essentially like
photocopy machines in that the ink is fused with heat to the surface of the
paper.  Very expensive laser printers also use pressure so presumably that
ink is not fused only to the surface but effectively pressed into the paper.
Inkjet type printers apply a surface ink that is not fused, just dried, and
most will wash or smudge if wet.  We used laser jet (HP Laser-jet 4)
printed labels (Bryon-Weston Resistall) for in both formalin and alcohol
without any notable problem.  The ink does not leach, bleed, fade or smudge
since it is heat fused.  However, since it is fused only to the surface and
not pressed in the paper, it can be scratched or abraided off the paper and
I believe this is the essense of the problem many curators have with the
use of laser printed labels.  The degree to which this might be a problem
probably depends somewhat on the nature of the paper used for labels--fused
ink might adhere better on some paper than on others.  I have older labels
that were done on dot-matrix printers that have faded a bit in fluid
preservative but remain quite readable. Aside from the potential abrasion
problem, I prefer the laser printed labels for clarity and appearence.

Darrel E. Snyder               Research Associate
Larval Fish Laboratory         Curator, LFL Collection
33J Wagar Building             Telephone:(970)491-5295; Fax:(970)491-5091
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado 80523   E-mail: DESnyder at

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