To label a cable as fast as I'm able
September 1, 2019 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I need to label cables after an event. It would be really nice if the label machine could produce prefix + incremental value labels. Doesn't need to be industrial strength, but maybe 50-70 labels at a sitting with minimal input. What do I buy?

I'm aware of the previous recommendations for the now-discontinued Dymo Rhino 6000: it's completely overkill for this light use. I also see the Wirecutter's suggestions for the DYMO LabelManager 420P. I've used a similar product from Dymo, and it wasn't bad.

The labels are for volunteer-built devices. At the end of a session, where there might be 35 builders, I'd likely have to produce two series of labels, say ATSCF-01 to ATSCF-35 and LTPCF-01 to LTPCF-35. I may be able to start printing these just before everyone rushes to finish their builds. I don't want to pre-print labels before an event, as that would be a waste of expensive label tape if the numbers were wrong. Do any label machines in the affordable range have this series function?

I'm likely to have a computer/phone/tablet at the event. May not have network in all places, though, so driver apps that phone home are not ideal.
posted by scruss to Technology (13 answers total)
 
If you will have a computer, why not have a label printer attached, such as the Dymo model commented upon in a comment in the WireCutter article you mentioned. That may give you more flexibility.
posted by blob at 11:00 AM on September 1, 2019


It sounds like what you're doing is amenable to preprinting, so maybe skip the label printer altogether and do it on a regular printer?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:40 AM on September 1, 2019


Apologies in advance -- I'm fighting the question a bit because it sounds stressful to have to rely on any kind of printer to work reliably at a time-sensitive point in a large event like this. In your shoes I'd so much rather have the thing preprinted if possible.

So with that said, I wonder if you could pre-print using full-page label stickers instead of a label maker. For example Avery has 2/3 inch x 1-1/2 inch "Durable ID" label sheets, printable with a laser printer, that supposedly are "Resistant to moisture, scuffing, tearing and smudging" with "Extra-strong, permanent adhesive." These are way cheaper than label tape (roughly a penny per inch vs. 8 pennies) so even if you ended up wasting half of them it would save money.

(On preview, Tell Me No Lies had the same idea! Again, sorry it's not what you asked.)
posted by john hadron collider at 11:45 AM on September 1, 2019


Nice idea on the Avery labels — I'm just not sure if they're available in the size I need.

The labels need to be about 30 x 15 mm, but wrapped around the cable and stuck to themselves, so maybe 70 x 15 mm total. Avery's longest label is about 44 x 13, so is likely too short.
posted by scruss at 12:54 PM on September 1, 2019


You can also buy self-adhesive sheets (not cut into labels). I'm sure it's possible to knock something together in Excel, then use a guillotine or paper cutter to cut the sheet into strips, then just chop up the strips with scissors. 50-70 labels is five minutes' cutting at most.
posted by pipeski at 3:03 PM on September 1, 2019


The labels need to be about 30 x 15 mm, but wrapped around the cable and stuck to themselves, so maybe 70 x 15 mm total.


Avery sells a 5/8" x 3" (15mm x 76mm) label sheet on their website.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:12 PM on September 1, 2019


Avery sells a 5/8" x 3" (15mm x 76mm) label sheet on their website

Unfortunately, not in Canada.
posted by scruss at 3:41 PM on September 1, 2019


>> Avery sells a 5/8" x 3" (15mm x 76mm) label sheet on their website
>
> Unfortunately, not in Canada.

They do sell 2/3" x 3-7/16" (17mm x 87mm)

Anyway, I'm sure you'll find something.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:07 PM on September 1, 2019


Would something like these Cable Labels from Mr. Label work? They have them available for both inkjet and laser printer, though apparently the inkjet version is only on Amazon. They have colored and white options.

I've used these, but only labeling by hand with a Sharpie. You wrap the thin bit around the cable and stick it to itself, then fold the wider flap over and create a double-sided label. After folding, they are 37mm x 13mm, per the specs.
posted by yuwtze at 5:27 PM on September 1, 2019


Can you print your labels (ATSCF- ___ and LTPCF-___) and hand write the number in sharpie?
posted by theora55 at 5:43 PM on September 1, 2019


Would something like these Cable Labels from Mr. Label work?

I do this with normal 1/2" Dymo labels by printing them twice without cutting. Works for Ethernet, power wire, etc. If I was going to label a trunk or something like 1" thick, I'd get label zipties.
posted by rhizome at 7:17 PM on September 1, 2019


I have a Dymo 4200 and at work we have a 5200. They are around $100 and $200. Both will print on Dymo heat shrink tube which comes in cassettes. We use them to label cables up to 1/2" diameter. For the bigger cables you have to slip them on before terminating an end. Colours are limited and all seem to be available on Amazon.ca.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 9:03 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Maybe a silly suggestion, but could you print all identical labels with the prefix and a blank space using a cheap label printer, and only fill in the number by hand with a permanent marker? Should be pretty easy, reliable and still very legible with minium effort?
posted by PardonMyFrench at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2019


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