We’ve been providing solutions for printing compliant MIL-STD-129 labels for years. These are based around our set of BarTender label templates and our solution is basically the same hardware and software we use here – we also print and encode barcode and RFID labels for DoD contractors who don’t want to print the labels themselves.
Since several people have asked about a simple low cost solution in the last week or so, I thought it might be helpful to go over our basic solution. Honestly, there are a lot of other great printers and other items that can do this job – this is just what I use personally, so it is really easy for me to help our customers get going.
Barcode Label Software
I use BarTender and suggest getting BarTender Automation. There are a lot of great label software packages out there (I really like NiceLabel as well) and I’m sure all of them can produce MIL-STD-129 labels as well as BarTender.
However, some years ago I designed our first set of MIL-STD-129 label templates in BarTender and they have worked well for me ever since.
RFID Label Printer – Datamax M-Class
Like the software, there are multiple brands of good label printers that can handle the printing and RFID of MIL-STD-129. The M-Class is a really nice mid-range printer with a good cost/performance ratio. For DoD applications, I like to use the 300 DPI, M-4308, which has high enough resolution to be used for a lot of MIL-STD-130 UID labeling jobs too.
If a really high output of labels is needed, then the Datamax H-Class or Zebra Xi4 might be a good alternative. I’m also planning to check out Zebra’s tiny ZD500R RFID printer which looks as though it might be perfect for low volume DoD jobs, at a really competitive price.
One thing I like with the Datamax printers is that they have a very forgiving spec for the position of the RFID inlay in the label – a feature that has proven to be helpful many times.
Although the label printer does a good job of verifying that the RFID labels are correctly encoded, it is a good idea to be able to read back the data afterwards – indeed, your DCMA QA rep might insist on you showing that the RFID label is actually working when it is fixed on your packaging.
There are a number of fixed and handheld readers that can do this job. In our office we use an old (but reliable) Symbol MC9090 reader. The later additions to this family are still very good, but are something of an overkill in a lot of cases.
We’ve been using the Motorola DS9808-R with several of our customers and it seems to do a good job. This is an interesting device since it is the only handheld barcode scanner that can read RFID tags as well.
It needs to be tethered to a computer and also needs a power supply to power the RFID reader/encoder. If you can live with this limitation, the DS9808-R just might be the low cost RFID reader you’ve been looking for.
Here at ID Technology we have a lot of ways we help defense contractors with labeling for MIL-STD-129 and MIL-STD-130. Regardless of whether you work at one of the biggest contractors and need a completely integrated solution or if you just need a few compliant RFID labels for a shipment – ID Technology is your partner.
There are a lot of ways a simple MIL-STD-129 labeling solution can be put together – what do you use?
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