GK Series Initial Printer Setup Details and Information

Article ID: 88202058



GK Series Printer Setup Overview

 The Zebra Printer can be used in a wide variety of applications and must be properly configured to function with your media. (Labels, Tags, etc.) and ribbon (if used). In addition you will be required to set the label size, print darkness and print speed to optimize printing. The printer is typically configured from your host device using a driver, utility/software, or sending the printer's command language (EPL or ZPL). In summary, in most instances you will need connect the printer to your host device to setup and configure the printer.

The GX Series printer also allows for a button flash sequence to configure darkness, print width, set defaults, and calibrate the labels. It should be noted that these configurations will be overwritten by any driver or application settings when you send your label request. Feed Button configurations Read More>>

Driver Considerations

Important: If you are using a USB connection to the printer, install the driver before connecting the USB cable to the printer. 

Do you need the ZebraDesigner Driver? 

The ZebraDesigner Driver is used when a Windows Application requires a driver to print to the printer. (The driver converts the Windows Application output to the printer's language.) If you are using a label design software from a non-Zebra vendor check with that vendor to see if they provide their own driver before installing and using the Zebra Designer Driver.  In addition, if you are using an application that directly outputs the printer's command language (EPL/ZPL) then do not use a Zebra Printer Driver. For these applications either send the label files directly to the printer or use a Generic Text Driver. 

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.

Media Related Settings and Calibration 

A note regarding printer setup and configuration 

The GK-Series printer can be configured by your driver, host application, or a utility. In these examples we will use the Zebra Designer Driver to configure the printer. (The configurations are sent when printing using the driver or printing the driver test page) If you are using a non-Zebra application/driver/label software determine the methods used to set these configurations and be aware the terminology for each setting in your environment may be different. 

1. Understanding your media

The Zebra Printer supports the use of many types and shapes of label/tags and knowing your media detail is important for proper configuration.

Here are the details you should know for printer media setup and configuration. For our examples we are using the ZebraDesigner Driver to show the configuration selections for each topic discussed below.  Note: When using the ZebraDesigner Driver the configurations are sent to the printer when you request to print a label. (i.e. printing the Windows Test page will send the printer configurations)

Media Related Configurations

>Media Type (Tracking Mode) - Selections - Continuous, Web Sensing (gap), and Mark Sensing (Black Mark). Default is Web Sensing 

ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Advanced Setup - Tracking Mode) Read More>>

If you are using media with an inter-label gap or a center hole set the Tracking Mode for Web Sensing.
If you are using media with a black bar or mark set the Tracking Mode for Mark Sensing.

Helpful Info - Media identification details Read More>>

>Print Method (Media Type) - Selections - Thermal Transfer (Using Ribbon) or Direct Thermal (No Ribbon) – Default - Thermal Transfer

Note: Print Method does not apply if your printer is a GK420D Direct Thermal only. There are no ribbon spindles or settings. 

ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Advanced Setup - Media Type)   Read More>>

>Print Mode - Selections-  Tear off, Peel (Dispense)  – Default is Tear off  

This is related to the label presentation after printing and limited to the options you have installed. The GK Series Printer  supports Tear Off, and Peel (Dispense Option Required)  Read More>>

ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Advanced Setup - Operation Mode)   Read More>>

>Media Loading - The media must be properly loaded for the Print Mode you intend to use.


2Understanding the Media Sensors

The printer comes with sensors for label tracking based on the Media Type used. There is a reflective and transmissive sensor positioned slightly off centered in the media path. The sensor you will use requires configuration of the Tracking Mode (Mark/Web/Continuous) setting to function with the media you are using. A hole or black mark must pass over the media sensor's position to function correctly.

See the GK Series Printer Sensors. Read More>>


3. Media Feed Power up action

The first time you load media you should run the 2 flash calibration procedure described in step 4. The Media Feed setting then determines how the media is handled when the printer is powered on or when the printhead is opened and closed.

The printer defaults to feed one label after power up or when the printhead is opened and closed. This is intended to position an already calibrated label to its resting position to be ready for printing. This can be altered using the Media Feed setting to one of the following:

  • Calibrate 
  • Feed (Default)
  • Length
  • No Motion
  • Short Cal

If you wish to alter the default setting you can create a file using the ^MF command to change the values. If you don't want to alter the printer defaults you can use the two flash calibration each time you change label lengths See Calibration below.  

Setting the Media Feed (Power Up Action) on the printer requires sending the ^MF command to alter the Power Up Head Open value. Sending a file using the ZebraDesigner Tools feature. Read More>>

^MF (Media Feed command) Read More>>

Example of a ZPL Media Feed Command to Measure the Label Length when the head is closed.

^XA^MFN,L^XZ (Power Up = no motion, Head Close = Measure the length)
^XA^JUS^XZ (Saves the value)

For recommendations on these selections Read More>>


4. Calibrate the printer for the media.

The printer does not measure the label length unless the default Power Up or Head Close values are altered to either Length or Calibrate. There are two calibration methods to consider if the labels fail to calibrate properly.

- The 2 Flash sequence will find the label gap and measure the label.

Performing the Calibration Procedure (Two Flash sequence) Read More>>

- The 7 button flash will perform a deeper analysis of the gap or mark and will produce a media sensor profile. 

Performing the Manual Calibration Procedure (Seven Flash sequence) Read More>>


Ribbon Setup

This applies to the GK420t when using applications where the use of ribbon is required. This is referred to as Thermal Transfer printing where an inked ribbon is used to produce the image on the label.

Ribbon Basics This explains the ribbon types and typical darkness and speed selections Read More>>

Ribbon Loading - The ribbon must be on a core that has notches to assure the ribbon spindle hubs will move with the ribbon rotation. The printer uses a sensor to detect the Ribbon Out condition and depends on the reflective chrome trailer to sense the end of the ribbon. See the ribbon sensor Read More>>

Failure to see this reflective trailer will result in the printer continuing to attempt to print.  

Ribbon Loading

Ribbon Configuration - Selecting Thermal Transfer if you are using Ribbon, Direct Thermal if you are not using Ribbon. ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Advanced Setup - Media Type) Read More>>


Print Quality

Print quality is a product of proper printer setup and use of compatible media for the application.  The four impacting factors to consider are:

1. The Media and Ribbon (if used) capabilities. Not all media is the same when it comes to being compatible with your application or needs. Printing speed , durability of the image/media, environment are just a few factors to consider when determining the printer setup for the application. Trying to compensate for poor media compatibility by using high printhead pressure and/or darkness settings can impact your printer’s printhead life.

2. Printhead Pressure 

There are no printhead pressure adjustments on the G-Series printer. Assure the printhead properly latches and the platen is not worn as these are the impacting items when printhead pressure may be an issue. 

3. Print Speed

The printer is capable of printing at multiple print speeds. The speed selection take the media/ribbon (if used) compatibilities into consideration since if high Darkness settings are required to achieve acceptable print then slower rates should be used. If your application requires the highest print speeds available be sure your media supplier has recommended the correct media for your application. 

ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Options - Print Speed) Read More>>

4. Print Darkness

Print Darkness (also may be referred to as Density or Burn Temperature) is a user adjustable setting. Avoid over heating the ribbon as it can melt if set too high. Vary the darkness to produce the best print quality. Setting the darkness using the ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Options - Darkness) Read More>>


Communications Setup

USB - A Zebra compatible driver must be installed before connecting the printer. 

USB Details Read More>>


RS232 Null Modem is required and all parameters must be matched on the printer and host Read More>>


If the printer has a parallel port use an IEEE1284.4 compatible cable Read More>>

Wired Ethernet Network - Printers that include a ZebraNet Print Server option can be connected to an Ethernet Network. If your network supports DHCP the printer can obtain an IP Address when the cable is connected. Configuring a printer with the ZebraNet Option  Read More>>

You can use one of the following Utilities to set specific parameters or set a permanent IP address for your printer queue.

  • ZebraNet Bridge can be used to discover and assign the desired network settings. Read More>>
  • The Zebra Setup Utility has a network setup wizard that can be used to configure your printer for a wired or wireless network Read More>>


Printing App or Program

Zebra printers are command interpretation engines using printer commands to to define the printed images. The printer must receive the commands in the supported printer language such as ZPL, EPL, CPCL. The printer will not respond if the label format received does not contain the required programming commands for label printing. Programming commands can be entered into a file and communicated to the printer, received as an output through a driver from an application, or created using one of many Zebra Label Software packages on the market.

For a general overview of this information Read More>>


Utilities and Drivers

If you are not using the ZebraDesigner Driver for your printing application you can use one of the following utilities for printer configuration. If ou are using a non-Zebra application or driver consult with the vendor for details on printer setup and configuration.

Application or Utility Comment
Zebra Setup Utility Read More>>                                             This is a free Windows based utility that features a printer setup wizard for simple printer or network setup.  
ZebraNet Bridge  Read More>>                                  This is an enterprise application for network printer management but is free to use for configuring a network or locally connected printer
ZebraNet Print Server Webpage Read More>>                                The ZebraNet Print Server has a Webpage that is accessed from a browser when you enter the printer's IP Address. Printer configurations can be viewed and altered.
ZebraDesigner Driver Read More>>                                                                     If you are using the ZebraDesigner Driver there is a Printing Preferences section that allows you to configure your printer.

+ Product Codes

  • G-Series GK Desktop Printers
  • GK420 Healthcare Desktop Printers
  • GK420d Desktop Printer
  • GK420d Healthcare Desktop Printer
  • GK420t Desktop Printer
  • GK420t Healthcare Desktop Printer