Lab Shopping: Barcode labeling options

Recently we’ve been shopping for a barcoding system for two of our customers. This post is a summary of our findings. For bar code labeling, we have 3 options.
lab shopping tips for virtual lab managers (photo from Brady Corporation)

1. Semi-auto and fully automated bar code labeling

This option is best suited for high-volume labeling of microplates. Typically, for labs that will label hundreds of microplates per month or more.

Examples include:
The price range is typically $20K-$30K, depending on brand and configuration of options.
A bar code reader/scanner is not included and is purchased separately. Stand alone bar code readers/scanners range in price from $50-$300, depending on configuration.

2. Manual bar code labeling

For labs that are labeling smaller volumes of microplates, such as 100’s per month, bar code labeling kits that include a small thermal printer, software and label accessories are a good option.
Such kits can be obtained from vendors such as:
Pricing for these printer/accessories/software bundles is generally in the range of $800-$1000.
Bar code readers/scanners can be bundled with the bar code labeling kits or purchased separately. Pricing, as mentioned above, ranges from $50-$300.

3. Custom bar code labeling services from vendor

This option is basically an outsourced custom bar code labeling of microplates. The lab specifies labeling options and custom number IDs to the vendor, who then bar code labels microplates for end user.
Services are offered by vendors such as:
Pricing for these services varies and is dictated by the number of microplates ordered. Generally, expect about $0.50 per plate or tube.

If you have questions, contact our Virtual Lab Managers at

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