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Brady Worldwide’s BradyPrinter M611
Mobile Label Printer ($675) is a label-creation and print system
designed for use in industrial environments, including but not limited
to data centers, electrical, wire and cable, laboratory, inspection, repair,
and safety. The M611 is a step up from our recent Editors’ Choice industrial
labeler, the Brady BMP41 Label Printer Voice and Data Communications Starter Kit.
While the BMP41 allows you to design and print labels on the printer itself or a computer via a wired USB connection, the M611, like many of today’s consumer-
and professional-grade label makers (such as the Brother P-touch Cube Plus or
Brother QL-820NWB), relies on your Android or iOS mobile device.

One of the many ways in which
the M611 (like its BMP41 sibling) differs from its lower-end counterparts is that, instead of paper, the Brady device prints on vinyl, polyester,
polypropylene, and many other materials designed to hold up in specific, often
caustic industrial environments. While the M611 is truly a sophisticated
labeling device in its own right, for it to become completely functional in
some environments—datacom or wiring and cabling, for example—you must purchase either a somewhat expensive kit or multiple add-ons, making
it an investment. Even so, the M611 is the hub of a highly capable go-anywhere labeling
system.

A Professional Industrial
Labeling System

While most people don’t give it
much thought, labeling—be it wire and cable marking, equipment and component
identifying, facilities directions and safety callouts, you name it—can be critical in terms of convenience, productivity, safety, and so much more.
Out of the box, the M611 and its downloadable smartphone and tablet apps (which
we’ll get to shortly) come ready to perform in a host of
industrial environments.

The base product consists of
the printer itself, a power cable/battery charger, a USB cable, a USB thumb
drive containing Windows drivers and a few other utilities, a carrying strap,
an internal rechargable battery, a roll of white polyester general ID labels,
a printer ribbon containing thermal ink, and documentation. And, of course, in a virtual sense, there are the downloadable iOS and Android versions of the Brady Workstation Mobile App.

Chances are, aside from some
basic identification labels, you won’t—not without adding on a few things,
anyway—get much labeling done with this version of the product by itself. To get you
started, Brady offers several so-called “kits” for various disciplines, including:

•    Contractor Kit with Hard Case and Product & Wire ID Software

•    Lab Kit with Magnet and Lab ID Software

•    Label Printer Outdoor Kit with Outdoor Label Material

•    Facility Kit with Safety & Facility ID Software

•    Operational Efficiency Kit with BradyPrinter i3300 Industrial
Printer and Product & Wire ID Software.

Aside from the last kit, which comes with a second, high-volume industrial
label printer that pushes the sales price to a bit over $2,000, these kits run
between $800 and $1,000 each. Considering that each kit comes with several (as
many as a dozen or more) rolls of specialized label material
and Brady Workstation software appropriate to the labeling tasks targeted by
the kit, this pricing represents reasonable value. For example, just one of the
several label rolls that comes in the Outdoor Kit—the Permasleeve Polyolefin 20 to 10 Gauge Wire Marking
Sleeves—sells separately for more than $65.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer accessories kit

As for the printer itself, unlike its consumer-grade counterparts that brag about being compact and easy to carry around, the sturdy, rubber-reinforced M611 is big enough (at 4.6 by 4.5 by 11 inches and about 3.5 pounds) that you
might want to consider springing for the $75 M611 Sling Pack, shown below.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer sling pack

Unlike
the other Brady labelers reviewed here, this one comes without a keyboard or,
aside from a power button, any physical buttons at all. What you get instead is
a 3.5-inch color touch display, which is primarily for monitoring and
configuring the printer and its Wi-Fi, USB, or Bluetooth connection, as
well as monitoring consumables and battery life. (Again, label design and
printing are handled from your handheld device.)

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer control panel

Speaking of consumables, unlike
thermal printers that require no ink, the M611 is a thermal transfer device
that requires not only a roll containing the label media or material, but also
a ribbon of an ink-like substance that adheres to the media. While the
ribbon does add an additional step and additional expense, an advantage of
this method is that, in addition to different colored media, you can also use
varicolored inks.

The printer accepts media rolls
in both die-cut and continuous formats up to two inches wide and several feet
long, and the maximum label size is 1.9 by 40 inches, or just over 3 feet. The
media rolls load from the top into a compartment, as shown in the image above,
and the ribbons slide into a hatch located on the left side of the chassis,
just beneath the media.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer ribbons

The battery,
which runs the length of the undercarriage, is internal and non-detachable, and
the automatic cutter resides in an indentation, the output slot, just behind
the control panel.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer cutter

Finally, Brady rates the M611
at 750 prints per day, which is, if you think about it, a lot—enough to, if he
or she does nothing else except create, print, and apply labels, fill the day of at least one, possibly two, technicians. This is especially true when you keep in mind that applying labels in many industrial scenarios
is rarely simply a matter of slapping a piece of tape with a few words on it
across a flat surface.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer patch panel labels

A Look at the M611 Mobile
Printer App

Out of the box, the M611 Mobile
Printer app is apt enough to handle a wide range of labeling tasks—until, that
is, you get into highly intricate projects like, say, the data- and
database-driven labeling required in laboratory settings, or perhaps product identification or huge wire marking applications. In other words, whenever your
labeling jobs entail keeping track of things, or projects that require more
than simply identifying objects, you may want to look beyond the M611 and its
free mobile apps.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer Workstation software

Between the Workstation kits,
Workstation suite, and Brady Label Maker Desktop applications, the choices are
many, and what you should opt for depends, of course, on the type of labeling
you plan to do—decisions that go beyond the scope of this simple review.
At this level, the art of labeling can entail a somewhat steep learning curve
with multiple options and many things to consider—in other words, not
something you would normally jump into without sufficient knowledge and/or
research.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer app

Which brings us back to the
Mobile Printer app. When combined with the M611 Mobile Printer,
the Brady Workstation Express Labels Mobile App (another free Android or iOS
download) makes your smartphone or tablet a rather robust labeling
system, ready to design labels for several industrial environments and
scenarios.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer cloud support

You can start from scratch, or
design your own labels from a huge library of templates. And, of course, you
can create your own templates and save them to the cloud for future use. In
addition, the software knows all the various consumable media and ribbon
combinations available, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of designing
labels for specific tasks and environments.

Furthermore, you get a wide
selection of resizable fonts and industry-specific symbols, or you can import
your own line art and other graphics. Perhaps most important, though, is that
between them, the M611 and Workstation Express Labels Mobile App present what might otherwise be an overwhelming selection of options and
features in a logical, familiar, not-too-daunting user interface.

How Fast Is Fast?

Given the several different subtypes of label printers, manufacturers measure their devices’ print
speeds in a few different ways. Some, for example, rate their printers at
labels per second (lps) or labels per minute (lpm), while others break them out by inches per second (ips). You get the idea.

Brady rates the M611 at 1.33 inches per second, which, when you think about it, is fast: almost 7 feet per minute. In most cases, though, we suspect your labels will be much
smaller than that. As I pointed out about the BMP41, compared to
business-oriented label printers such as Brother’s QL-1110NWB, the M611 and its ilk are significantly slower, but then they’re designed for completely different applications. In most labeling scenarios, I
suspect that more often than not, the printer will wait for you to apply your
labels than the other way around.

At What Point Does ‘Critical’ Cost Too Much?

While most types of labeling
are important to the extent that they save time and foster order and
organization, in many industrial scenarios labeling can be critical in more important ways, including health and safety. Furthermore, while shopping for
labels and ribbons for the M611 on the Brady site, the very top of my decision tree began with 140 label types for 20 different applications.

After that, the options branch
out in several directions, including categories, materials, sizes, colors,
and on and on. In most settings, a labeling job will require several
different types of labels, too. Labeling a new data center or server farm, for
example, calls for wire and cable sleeves; labels for faceplates, patch panels, and equipment
IDs; and oh-so-many other tags. And let’s not forget the electrical closet and
all the various and sundry labeling that goes on in there.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer terminal block labels

My point? As I said about the
BMP41, to provide detailed running costs, I’d need to know what you’re
labeling, right down to (where appropriate) various cable and wire sizes; where
you’re labeling; and so on. Let’s take the Cable & Wire category as an
example. It includes at least eight label types, including four
polyolefin wire-marking Permasleeves that range in circumference sizes from 4
to 12 up to 16 to 22.

Pricing, then, is determined by
all these factors and more, including the more traditional variants such as,
say, volume. The per-label cost varies significantly when you buy one roll of
100 labels versus a 100-pack of rolls containing 100 labels each.

Finally, we’re not talking about the inexpensive paper used in file-folder labeling here—these synthetics
and special-blend amalgams are not cheap. The simplest, least-exotic wire
sleeves may not contain a lot of material, but nevertheless start somewhere above 10 cents per label. Within reason, though, cost
is not the most important factor. When it comes time to expand or move things
around, the few hundred dollars you spent on durable, long-lasting labels
will, in terms of downtime and frustration, save you
considerably. 

An Industrial Labeling
Pro

Many types of industries,
especially high-tech, require intricate labeling—it’s just part of doing
business. Without question, the BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer
represents a significant investment in the labeling aspect of your industry.
While there are certainly more robust, more intricate, and more expensive
labeling systems available, the M611, coupled with its many add-ons and
hundreds of label types and applications, is designed to get you
through even the biggest and most complicated labeling tasks without having to run back to a workstation to do the job. And its ability
to operate wirelessly over the Internet and from the cloud makes it one of the
most capable and sophisticated labeling systems we’ve reviewed in some time.

BradyPrinter M611 Mobile Label Printer Specs

Type Printer Only
Color or Monochrome Monochrome
Connection Type Bluetooth, USB, Wireless
Maximum Standard Paper Size 2″ x 40″
Number of Ink Colors 1
Number of Ink Cartridges/Tanks 1
Direct Printing From Media Cards No
Direct Printing From USB Thumb Drives Yes
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono) 1 1/3 inches per second
Monthly Duty Cycle (Recommended) 750 prints daily duty cycle
LCD Preview Screen Yes
Printer Input Capacity 25 feet
Cost Per Page (Monochrome) 20 cents per label
Print Duplexing No
Automatic Document Feeder Yes

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