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What to Look for When Buying Barcode Tags

Security Labels and Tags
Barcode Tag

Tracking and tracing are essential for a tightly-run business. If you have a lot of equipment that constantly gets moved around a warehouse or from one location to another, losing track of that equipment can, unfortunately, be common and costly.

Barcodes are essential for asset management and inventory tracking, so having durable, easy-to-read barcode tags isn’t optional.

Why Barcode Tags Need to Be Durable

If a barcode will be read once or twice and never again, then it doesn’t have to be particularly hardy. As you’ve undoubtedly seen in grocery stores and retail outlets, barcodes are often printed on paper, vinyl, plastic, or other quick and easy sticker materials.

Codes that must be used repeatedly in harsh environments must be far more rugged.

Analyzing Your Environment

Before you buy new barcode tags, you have to assess the environment in which they’ll be used. Will they be banged about in a warm, humid warehouse? Will they experience extreme temperature swings?

Make sure you know the environment in which your tags will live, and you’ll get the best possible lifespan from them.

Barcode tags may need to resist:

  • Impacts
  • Dirt and sand
  • Moisture
  • Abrasion
  • Chemicals
  • Salt
  • Direct sunlight
  • High/low temperatures
  • Time

Time alone can have a massive impact on tags that may otherwise never face adverse conditions. Plastic becomes brittle, and even the toughest papers eventually oxidize and fade.

Barcode Tag Materials

Based on the environment and usage your barcode tags will face, you can determine what type of materials make sense for your application.


If you want the best in durability, you want metal. Metal barcode tags can last for years, especially if you use highly durable materials such as Metalphoto® photosensitive anodized aluminum. Metalphoto offers excellent resistance to chemicals, abrasion, and solvents, and it will withstand exterior exposure to extreme cold, heat, and UV for an expected exterior lifespan of 20+ years when treated with Camcode’s image intensification process. For most applications, anodized aluminum will be more than sufficient, but some use cases may be better suited to stainless steel or brass barcode tags.


Usually, laminated plastic is inexpensive and durable enough for many applications. It’s more flexible than metal, and it’s suitable for indoor environments such as office equipment. Not to mention, plastic is certainly easier and cheaper to replace.


For barcode tags that only need to last a short time, paper barcode tags will do just fine. For tags that need to be more “upscale,” the paper can be thick cardboard with eye-catching graphics.

Barcode Tag Printing Options

While the barcode tag material makes the biggest difference in durability and longevity, how the code is placed onto the tag is almost as important. If you choose barcode tags with images that degrade over time, they may no longer be scannable with a barcode scanner and require replacement.

Printing with Ink

Whether screen-printed (like the graphics on a shirt or poster) or printed via a label printer, ink is a short-term solution. Turn to print when your label doesn’t have to last long or if it doesn’t need to be handled often.


With embossing and engraving, the barcode is embedded into the material. Embossing involves pressing with a dye, while engraving removes material from the surface. Both are permanent solutions and work well for a simple design such as a barcode.

Sealing the image in anodic layer of aluminum

An incredibly rugged method of creating a barcode, Metalphoto photosensitive aluminum barcode tags have a crisp silver halide image sealed beneath an anodized layer of aluminum for a long-lasting and sharp image that can withstand outdoor weather conditions, UV, extreme temperatures, caustics, chemicals, solvents, abrasion, and more.

Tag Attachment

How will the tags be attached? You might prefer traditional adhesives to affix a barcode label, but adhesives can be subject to moisture, heat, and other elements, weakening the attachment over time.

Riveting a metal barcode tag is a great, long-lasting option, but only if the object’s surface can be reasonably riveted.

Permanent adhesives such as epoxy are also an excellent option, especially if they allow the tag to flex with the object’s surface.

Another way to attach the tags is by using strings or chains. This might be beneficial if you need to swap out tags for any reason, as you won’t have to fight an adhesive to do so. Depending on your needs, you can use a loop of material that must be cut to remove or use something like a clasp that can be removed easily.

Which Barcode Tag Is Right for You?

  • To answer this question, you’ll need to understand the following criteria:
  • How durable the tag must be
  • How many times it will be scanned
  • What environment the barcode will live in
  • What type of object it will be attached to
  • Your budget

It’s a complex but important formula if you’re to find the optimal barcode tags for your needs. Need expert guidance? Get in touch with Camcode today and our experts will help you determine the best barcode tagging solutions for your application.

Questions about the article? Let us help!

Our sales engineers are experts in automatic asset tracking, tagging and identification,a nd can answer all your questions. Get in touch now.

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