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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pricing Guns and Price Gun Labels


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Pricing gun labels - Introduction

Pricing gun labels come in many different sizes and configurations to fill various functions.
Although pricing gun labels have been showing up in ever increasing, varied usages, the most common applications for them are:

  • Pricing
  • Inventory coding
  • Date coding

    Or a combination of all of these three.

    Price marking
    One of the most common usages of pricing gun labels is for price marking. Used in the retail sector for over 60 years, pricing gun labels have proven to be an economical, highly-efficient method of putting the price on the item for easy display.

    Beginning with the first patent for a price marking device back in 1899, the need and efficiency of pricing guns have grown along with the retail sector both in this country and abroad. One of the first manufacturers to make inroads towards the labeling system used today was Monarch Marking out of Dayton, Ohio.

    Two line price guns

    As retailing became more complex, and other uses were found for the basic price gun, manufacturers began adding a second line of print to the pricing gun. With the additional line of print, the gun now has greater versatility.

    The Monarch 1136 is a classic 2-line pricing gun. The band layout here allows for printing letters on top and numbers on the bottom.

    Three-line price gun

    With the advent of complex inventory systems, came the need for more information easily accessible on items. One of the most economical and effective solutions has proven to be a price gun. With such features as ergonomic designs, lightweight, durability and easy loading, many companies now offer three- line labelers to maximize the amount of information that can be printed on one label.

    By increasing the size of the label, not only has an additional line of print been added, but each line also has additional bands, so that each line can contain up to 12 characters for a total of 36 characters printed on the label.

    Typically a three line price gun will have between 8-12 characters on each row. To change the price each group of characters has its own knob which is turned to determine the number or symbol shown.

    Date coding

    As freshness and related health concerns become more and more of an issue in the food preparation sector, date coding has quickly become a staple along many points in the food preparation chain. From harvest, to processing to the actual cooking, maintaining food within the safe usage dates becomes almost impossible without some form of dating.

    Pricing labels have proven to be an efficient and economical way of marking food products with an expiration date. Typically, the labels will be affixed at the initial food preparation and will mark off a “best if used by" date.

    Monarch Marking has a complete line of date coding labels for various uses.

    Color-coded FreshMarx day labels use a different color for each day of the week, promoting better organization and quick recognition. One of Monarch's most effective innovations is the combination two- line, date/price label.

    The system consists of seven different labels, one for each day of the week. Using different colors for each day makes the labels easy to spot, eliminating error.

    With two lines of print, typically the top line is used to indicate the lot number and bottom line the use by date, or the top line can be used for date and the bottom for price.

    Consecutive numbering

    One of the most efficient methods of creating consecutive numbering labels is by using a hand held label gun. Serving as both the printer as well as the applicator, a trained operator can easily mark products at a speed that is unparalleled. With each squeeze of the trigger the counter is advanced, so that the next number is printed.

    Custom printed pricing labels

    All pricing gun labels can be custom printed with a store name, logo, or just about any message. The labels will come with a preprinted message or logo on them, and still leave room for the pricing gun to print the inventory code or price on the label. The color of the label itself as well as the ink used to print the message can vary, opening up a tremendous amount of possibilities. Two line pricing labels, often offer the option of printing more than one line of preprinted messages on the label.

    The Mechanics of a price gun

    While each manufacturer will focus on different advantages and features in design, all pricing guns consist of a few core elements:

    1. Print head
    2. Inker
    3. Label feed path
    4. Pricing labels

    Print head

    The print head is the part of the pricing gun that when pressed against the inker will print selected characters on the label.

    Print head

    The print head is made up of a series of bands. These bands are molded rubber formed with the outline of characters: numbers and letters. When pressed up against the ink roller the band is then pressed against the pricing label, to form the actual imprint that will show on the label.

    Each pricing gun contains a limited amount of bands. The amount of bands on the gun will determine the amount of characters the gun can print.

    One line price gun

    The Monarch 1110: a typical price gun has between 5 and 6 bands. Pricing guns also come with more than one line of bands. For example, a retailer may want to show the regular price and directly underneath it the sale price. To allow for this, price guns have been manufactured that print more than one line.

    Below is a diagram of the possible characters that the Monarch 1110 pricing gun can print. Note that while each position on the print head can only print one character at a time, not all characters must be printed. For instance, if one only wanted to print 4 characters on a label, the other two could be set at a not to print mode.

    Two line price gun

    A two line pricing gun will hold two print heads, each print head holding a series of bands. The amount of bands per print head (or line) will vary amongst manufacturers.

    The XL Pro 22DC, a typical 2-line price gun, has two lines of bands. The top line contains 8 bands, the bottom contains 7. This configuration allows the gun to print 8 characters over 7. So for example, this label utilizes 6 top bands and 6 of the bottom.

    Some of the more common usages of a two line label are to denote regular price and our price. The top line of the pricing gun will be used to mark the list price, which will appear behind the red X, and the actual price will be printed below.

    Additionally, two line labels can be used for date coding, where the top line of print would be used to denote an inventory code or fresh date, and the bottom line would be used for the price or the “best if used by" date.

    Security slits prevent price switching

    Security slits break apart when pulled off the original item.
    One of the easiest ways to prevent people from taking a price label from one item and placing it on another, is to purchase price labels with security slits. When an individual attempts to take the price label off of an item, the label rips along the security slits and cannot be put back on another item. The standard is for pricing labels to come with security slits.

    Metal pricing guns

    There are some manufacturers who produce a metal gun. For example, the Hallmark- line is a sturdy, easy to use one line price gun. While the gun has a firm feel to it, the added weight and bulk make it difficult to operate and in most environments would not be worth the trade-off from a typical plastic price gun.

    Versatile band layouts

    The Hallmark 1-line has a highly versatile band layout that allows for both numeric as well as alpha numeric printing. Here is a 6-band gun. The first band can print any letter from A - S, and the last five bands can print either numbers or special characters. To save on bands, the decimal point has been added to the fourth band, and does not require its own band.

    Pricing gun ink roller

    Each package of pricing labels comes with an ink roller. The ink roller is synthetic material that functions similarly to a sponge, wrapped around a plastic core. In the factory, the ink roller is soaked in ink and then wrapped in an airtight plastic wrapping to contain the moisture. The ink roller will remain fresh for 2-3 years after its manufacturer's date, and will typically last for more impressions that a typical box of labels. The inker comes in blister packs to protect them
    As the cost of inkers is not significant, we do not recommend re-inking them but rather purchasing new ones. Each gun requires a specific inker, and cannot use an inker from a different manufacturer or model.

    Promotional labels

    Promotional pricing labels are labels that are used to highlight a sale or special promotion. Typically larger in size than a standard label, these labels offer an ideal way of bringing customer attention to a particular detail.

    The Monarch 1156 is an example of a promotional label. The label itself is quite large for a pricing label. The label size is 0.75" x 1.22", and the large band printing helps make this label stand out.
    Stephen Fried

    Director, Internet Marketing

    Ron Kaye is an editor for - an investment website that publishes articles, news, and reports, and shares information on undervalued penny stocks.

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