2824 / 2844 / 3842 Series -- Resolving Print Quality Issues

Article ID: 58390746


Important: If you are using an LP2844 printer that is used for or supplied by a shipping vendor (i.e. UPS or FedEx for example) DO NOT try to load standard firmware or drivers from the Zebra Website. These printers are used exclusively with the shipping vendor's driver and label application. Read More>>


Topic or Information

Print Quality Adjustments and Configurations for the EPL Desktop Printers

Applies To



This information is useful for

  • Adjusting the quality of the printed image
  • Setting the print darkness
  • Setting the print speed


Symptoms addressed by this solution include 

  • Light print or blank labels
  • Faded image
  • Partially missing print
  • Broken bars, voids, or lines in a barcode


The desktop printers are configured using setting that reside in the Driver, Application, or in the EPL content of a label format you may create. Since the method used for printing is based on your individual application we are demonstrating a few methods using Zebra supplies utilities or drivers. Consult with your vendor or supplier if you are not using Zebra branded printing drivers or label software.

Important: All printer settings can be impacted by commands from a mis-matched or misconfigured driver or software application. A printer that is functioning fine after setup but fails or indicates an error after label requests are received are most likely affected by the host side misconfiguration of the driver or printer software settings. The host device that generates the printer commands for printing typically have setup configuration that send these as commands to the printer. Make sure all settings match the printer settings to avoid intermittent issues

Print Quality

There are five correctable factors that can affect print quality on the desktop printer. These are

  1. Printhead Maintenance
  2. Media (labels) and Ribbon if used)
  3. Darkness Setting
  4. Print Speed
  5. Using the wrong power supply. 
  6. Worn Platen


Other causes that would require corrective action include

  • Printhead element failure causing white lines or white voids. Printhead Replacement Read More>> 
  • Worn Platen or platen bearings affecting printhead pressure.


Platen and Bearing Replacement Read More>>   (105910-055 Platen Roller Replacement Kit)

1. Print Head Cleaning

A dirty print head can result in poor heat transfer and a poorly printed image:  Printhead cleaning details Read More>>

2. Media 

Your labels and ribbon (if used) must be matched to meet your application's printing needs. The type of labels and ribbon (if used) impacts the quality of the print. To make sure you are using the optimal Media and Ribbon combination for your application consult with your supplier. 

Media used in a Direct Thermal application (not using ribbon) must have a heat sensitive coating to produce an image. You can test your media using the scratch test. Read More>> 

3. Darkness

Adjusting printer darkness:

Darkness or Density Settings - Adjust the darkness to produce the appropriate intensity of the image but not so high that there is bar spread on the barcode lines or text. The darkness setting is controlled through software/driver settings or through the printer's native language EPL. These links provide darkness setting through Zebra solutions. Consult with your application provider if you are not using Zebra software or drivers. 

  • You can use the Zebra Setup Utility to configure the darkness setting. Read More>>
  • Printing through the Zebra Designer Driver Read More>>
  • If your application is printing through a 3rd party driver, contact that vendors technical support.
  • If you are using EPL code in your application Read More>>


The current printer darkness value ( D ) can be seen on the printer's configuration settings.  Read More>>

Note: If you not using ribbon and you increase the Darkness to maximum without seeing any image on the labels, perform the scratch test. Read More>>  This will verify you are using the correct type of label in the printer.

4. Print Speed

Print speed can have an impact on the darkness of the print. Typically slowing the speed improves the print quality but testing different speeds would be recommended. 

The printer operates at the selected speed in terms of inches/mm per second.  Because print quality is effected by print speed, media, ribbon ( if thermal transfer ), and printer operating modes, it is important to run tests for your application to choose the optimal print speed setting.  Slowing down the print speed can also help if the print is too light.

  • You can use the Zebra Setup Utility to configure the print speed setting. Read More>>
  • If your application is printing through the Zebra Designer Driver Read More>>
  • If your application is printing through a 3rd party driver, contact that vendors technical support.
  • If you are using EPL code in your application Read More>>


The current print speed value ( S ) can be seen on the printer's configuration settings.  Read More>>

5. Power Supply 

Intermittent light print or inconsistent print intensity using the wrong power supply

Assure you have the correct  power supply (20 VDC) connected to the printer. Use of the wrong supply can result in light bands or alternating light and dark print. There are four different power supplies that have been used for the these printer models.

Hitek Plus 220 - Read More>>

Hitek Plus 120 - Read More>>

PADA200 - Read More>>


EOS Branded Power Supply - We have no pictures at this time but the manufacturer's name EOS would appear on the power supply label. This power supply is physically smaller than the PLUS 220, PLUS 120, and PUDA200 power supplies.

+ Product Codes

  • 2824 Series Desktop Printers