Choosing Between Fan Fold vs. Roll Label

Choosing Between Fan Fold vs. Roll Label

If you're new to label printing, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. In this article, we'll explore fan fold and roll labels and some advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Comparing Fan Fold vs. Roll Labels

Both fan fold and roll labels are continuous rolls of thermal labels, which is essential for any business that needs to ship out orders. The two label stacks are also designed for slightly different setups, but each has pros and cons.

The first thing to know about both options is that the labels being used are typically thermal 4×6 inches labels. They can be applied to a wide range of products. You can use them on boxes, bags, crates, or even pallets. They can be applied to just about anything from cardboard or plastic.

What Are Fan-fold Labels?

Fan-fold labels are continuous labels that are stacked in a fan shape. The labels are then folded over onto themselves so that there's no gap between them. These labels are great because they don't need to be cut into individual pieces. Instead, they can simply be removed from their packaging and placed directly on the product.

Pros and Cons of Fanfold Labels

 Pros and Cons of Using Fanfold Labels

Advantages of Fan-Fold Labels

Fan-fold labels are ideal for high-volume label printing because you can buy larger stacks with a higher label count (up to 2,000 labels per pack!). With roll labels, the typical pack has around 500 labels. Because these labels do not curl like the other types of label papers, they always come out flat and can stack easily if you are printing large quantities at once.

Disadvantages of Fan-fold Labels

As fan-fold labels can only be fed outside the printer, they are more prone to dust than rolled labels, which can be placed inside specific printer models. This can affect the print quality, causing the output not to be as sharp as it should be.

Sample fan fold label

Prints on fanfold tend to be blurry because of dust it collected

They also take up more space than roll labels, so keep this in mind when choosing between fanfold and roll!

What Are Roll Labels?

Roll labels are continuous labels that are fed from a roll. Roll labels can be put inside certain label printers or fed externally like the fan-fold label stacks.

What Are the Advantages of Roll Labels?

Desktop thermal printers typically have internal label holders that can load media with a 4” or 5” outer diameter. On the other hand, external roll mounts can accommodate media with an 8” outer diameter. However, if you want to use bigger rolls like this, you need to ensure the label holder is high, so the roll does not touch the table surface, causing issues when feeding labels.

Because roll products do not take up much space when they are stored inside the printer, they are ideal for small operations such as retail stores and restaurants where space is limited on the countertop.

Pros and cons of using roll labels

Pros and cons of using roll labels

What Are the Disadvantages of Roll Labels?

If you plan to feed the labels from outside of your machine, then they will certainly collect dust just as quickly as if you were to use fan-fold labels. Because of that, you would need frequent dusting up before use since there is no protective covering.

Keep in mind that if you're planning on using this kind, expect them to come out curled compared with fan-folds. That said, we have found that some brands do better than others at keeping their shape under normal wear conditions (which may vary depending on usage).

Curled roll labels

Roll labels usually curl out after printing

When Should You Use One and Not the Other?

It all depends on your printer, available space, and setup. If you don't have a label holder/stand, then a fan-fold is the only option, as you would need something to hold the roll label. Most popular label printers nowadays are compact, so there isn't a need to consider roll labels to fit inside the printer. If you use a dedicated label holder, most of them would be able to hold both fan-fold or roll labels. Personally, I would prefer the roll labels because there are a few inexpensive “hacks” that would allow you to set up a label roll holder! Here are some of the hacks we've tried for our store.

Read also: How to Get a Cheap Roll Label Holder


Use Labels Best Suited for Your Business Needs

There are clear benefits to both fanfold and roll labels. Roll labels can be great for large projects because of their low cost, but fanfold labels have their own advantages too. Ultimately, it's up to you which type of label works best for your business and its needs.

What kind of labels have you been using? Share your label printing tips with us! 

If you're looking for more ways to up your packaging, check out more of our blogs! We cover everything from sustainability, packaging, and small shop tips. 


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