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The Brady BMP21 handheld label printer is a robust, stand-alone thermal label printer designed for the professional user. Using interchangeable cartridges which are compatible with the IDPal and LabPal printers, it is designed to give labelling facility primarily to engineers in electrical and communications environments, and for general industrial use, producing durable labels which can last at least five years outdoors.
At this point it is worth identifying some of the physical features which differentiate this printer from, say, the IDXpert. In addition to its visual and ergonomic appeal and comfortable ‘hand feel’, which surprisingly is not spoiled by the presence of various bumper guards, it has a symmetrically operated manual cutter which will suit both left-handed and right-handed users. A nice feature is that when operated, this cutter does not send your label fluttering to the floor but instead retains it until removed. Further, the BMP21 accommodates a range of handy attachments such as an LED torch, a desk-top stand, a belt strap, and a powerful magnet for securing the printer to metal surfaces. There is only one attachments dock, so if both magnet and light are needed, a combined fitting is available. The magnet is very powerful. If you experience otherwise, you probably haven’t removed the ‘keeper’ which maintains the magnet’s strength yet dampens its effect while not use.
In addition to wire ID labels and continuous labels, the BMP21 will print patch panel and terminal block labels (horizontally or vertically, with or without auto-numbering) and perma-sleeve polyolefin heat-shrink sleeve. There is just one font available, regular or bold, in the following sizes: 6pt, 9pt, 14pt, 20pt, 28pt and 40pt. Some of the characters come close to having look-alikes, such as capital O and zero, lower case L and numeral 1 etc. but only if the observer is inexcusably casual. A good range of accented and international characters is available. Text may be reproduced in multiple lines. Alphanumerical incremental serial numbering is limited to just one serial number per label and three digits per number, but the system does allow increments of 1 to 99 and facilitates continued numbering onwards from your last serial number. A nice feature is that after each numbered label is printed you can choose whether to cut it off or continue printing. To give an understanding of how the numbering system behaves, the numerical component of a mixed serial number takes priority over the alphabetical component. In other words, counting upwards from B9 will continue to increment the number rather than incrementing the B to C. On the other hand, if AY is the start number, the A will very soon increment to B. The printer can generate two types of bar code: code 39 and code 128 but only one per label and only in auto-fit size. The code is not reproduced on the LCD, of course, the bars being generated at print time. There appears to be no date/time stamp facility on this printer. Multiple copies of a label may be printed and up to twelve label designs may be saved in memory. There is a choice of sizing units (inches or millimetres) and, as one would expect, a battery state indicator.
The printer can be powered by six AA cells or a mains power adaptor. The BMP21 cartridges, which drop into place easily and are secured by a small lever, are automatically detected and identified by the printer for menu option purposes. When no cartridge is present, care should be taken not to damage the contact springs that allow the printer to identify which cartridge has been inserted, as they are a little exposed. Only continuous type label is printed (not die-cut), also self-laminating wire markers and heat-shrink sleeve. The maximum label width is 0.75in (20mm) and maximum roll length 21ft (7.3m)
The BMP21 label printer is for stand-alone printing only, having no computer connectivity. The display, a 45 x 23mm mono LCD, features a status bar and backlight. This status bar, located at the bottom of the display, shows the font and printing mode in use, as follows: Banner Landscape, Banner Portrait, Wire, Terminal Block, Patch Panel, and Fixed Length label (which forces font size to fit).
The BMP21 comes with ‘ABC’ alphabetical keyboard layout only. A Shift key gives access to a range of symbols, leaving a Caps Lock key to enable upper and lower case printing, its status being displayed on the LCD. The keyboard gives access to a handful of the more common symbols but a good selection of electrical, electronic and other symbols is available through the menu. Within this library there is no fast route to any particular group of symbols but using the repeat key facility and observing the X-Y scrollbars allows fairly rapid selection. In conclusion, the BMP21 appears to be a thoroughly useful asset for the installation engineer and technician, having been well thought out to complement other printers such as the IDXpert.