Large selection of industrial labels
16 MB of memory
On the pricier side
Batteries are required
No QWERTY keyboard
Lacks an automatic cutter
We purchased Brady's BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
Label makers are not just for household or office use. The Brady BMP21-PLUS Label Printer has advanced features that make it ideal for industrial applications. Its sturdy build can withstand shock, vibration, and drops—so you can feel confident taking it out in the field. With a seemingly endless array of symbols and custom templates, you can label anything from circuit breaker panels to cable flags.
We were eager to put this tough label printer to the test. We determine if this high-end label maker is worth buying, assessing components like setup, design, performance, and ease of use.
Setup Process: Simple
It only took a few minutes to get the Brady BMP21-PLUS up and running. It comes with a tape cartridge already installed. You need to insert six AA batteries, which is easy to do thanks to two squeezable finger tabs on both sides of the battery compartment door. We were a bit disappointed that this labeler didn’t come with a rechargeable battery pack. Replacing batteries regularly can be costly in the long run. Although if you want a rechargeable Li-ION battery and AC adapter, you might as well get the BMP21-PLUS-KIT1, which includes the labeler, a hard carry case, rechargeable battery, and plug adapter for $100 more.
The Brady BMP21-PLUS comes with a quick start guide. If you need more detailed instructions, you can download the user’s manual from the manufacturer’s website.
Design: Solid construction and plenty of convenient features
With custom templates for items such as wires, panels, circuit boards, and poles, this handheld label maker is perfect for industrial use. It should come as no surprise that it’s a big hit with electricians and other tradespeople. The Brady BMP21-PLUS is a durable product that you’ll feel confident taking into the field. This label maker can withstand a six-foot drop thanks to a rugged exterior with molded rubber bumpers to resist impact. Despite its solid build, the BMP21-PLUS is surprisingly lightweight at 1.7 pounds—perfect for carrying around on the go. For hands-free portability, you can wear it on the provided lanyard.
It doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard, instead the keyboard letters are alphabetical, which slowed us down. You can type in six different font sizes, ranging from 6 to 40 points. It has over 100 built-in symbols. It offers automatic label formatting for 11 typical applications, including wire markers, breaker boxes, and patch panels. The Brady BMP21-PLUS has 16 MB of memory, allowing you to store labels for future use and saving you the trouble of recreating them. The total number of labels you can save will vary depending on their size and complexity.
This unit does not have an automatic cutter. There are two cutter levers (located on each side of the printer) that you squeeze like a squeeze trigger to cut the label manually. The levers are on the machine’s underside, so you have to lift it every time you cut a label (unless you’re already holding it in your hand). This handheld cutting operation is perfect for when you’re out in the field but seems like an extra step if you’re sitting at a desk. This design flaw is more of a pet peeve than a significant inconvenience. The device is very lightweight and easy to lift—even if you have to do it repeatedly.
Performance: Great overall, but a preview mode would be helpful
For our product test, we decided to label the wires on the back of our cable box. There is a custom template for electrical wires, but the BMP21-PLUS works excellent with any type of wire because you can adjust the gauge and the font size.
Even with those options, creating the right size label did take a bit of trial and error—and some wasted tape. We were disappointed that the Brady BMP21-PLUS doesn’t have a preview mode. A preview mode, or visual preview of your label before you print, is available from other label makers. Eventually, we realized that the system would maximize the font based on our legend and label size by selecting the automatic font. After labeling our cable wires, we also created a label to display our cable box’s serial number prominently. (It is printed in tiny font on the back of the box and is very difficult to see).
Once we got the hang of it, we liked the look of the labels we made—they are clear, easy to read, and don’t smudge at all. The backing paper extends farther than the label, creating a tab so you can remove it easily.
The printer’s lightweight design and grippable handle make it comfortable to hold for long periods.
One of the best features on the BMP21-PLUS is the backlit display for low-light work areas. We took it into our backyard, which is incredibly dark at night, and we could see the screen clearly. On the downside, the keys don’t light up, so it wouldn’t be much use if it’s too dark. The printer’s lightweight design and grippable handle make it comfortable to hold for long periods.
When compared to the competition, the Brady BMP21-PLUS is relatively reasonably priced (about $99). We were surprised the Brady BMP21-PLUS didn’t come with more accessories like a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, retractable stand, or a heavy-duty magnet attachment. All of those accessories are available at an additional cost. Even without the add-ons, it’s a high-performing and versatile printer and well worth the money.
Once we got the hang of it, we liked the look of the labels we made—they are clear, easy to read, and don’t smudge at all.
Be sure to factor in long-term costs: The BMP21-PLUS drains alkaline batteries quickly and frequently needs replacement. Purchasing a rechargeable battery will likely save you money in the long run. Label cartridges can be pricey ($21 and up), depending on the size and material you need.
Brady BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer vs. DYMO Rhino 5200 Industrial Label Maker
Retailing around $122, the DYMO Rhino 5200 Industrial Label Maker is another excellent option for electricians. It prints labels that are chemical heat and UV-resistant. Thanks to a hot-key feature, it can automatically create labels for cable flags, electrical panels, terminal blocks, and more. It has a few standout features to justify its higher price tag: It can print labels up to 77 percent faster than the competition. Like the Brady BMP21-PLUS, it can print heat shrink tubing, but users say DYMO’s heat shrink labels are significantly cheaper.
- Product Name BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer
- Product Brand Brady
- MPN BMP21-PLUS
- Price $99.00
- Weight 1.7 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 9.9 x 4.5 x 9.5 in.
- Material Rubber
- Batteries Required 6 AA