Topic or Information
Setting up printer pooling for Zebra P600 Series Printers
Zebra P640i and P630i Card Printers
Before you begin: It is worth noting the fact that Zebra printers store a great deal of their configuration in the printer, which is somewhat contrary to Microsoft’s printer model. This can create problems with pooled printers, since if one tries to make a change to any pooled printer, the change is made to ALL pooled printers. This can cause adverse results. The method below helps to eliminate this problem.
1. Set up the Printers individually
Install the printers as per the installation instructions. For the purposes of this document, I will assume that the printers are named “Zebra P640i 1”, “Zebra P640i 2”, and “Zebra P640i 3”, and are attached to ports “ATLUSB001”, “ATLUSB002”, and “ATLUSB003”, respectively. At this point, it is probably prudent to test each printer, though not necessary. You also need to be sure that the printers are configured similarly. Things to be sure are the same are:
- Ribbon panel configuration (both type and what prints on what side of the card)
- Mag encoding configuration
- Black extraction configuration (if applicable)
2. Create the pool
a.) Go to Start -> Printers and Faxes -> Add a Printer
b.) Click “Next” on the Add Printer Wizard welcome screen.
c.) Select “Local Printer” and make sure that “Automatically Detect My Plug and Play Printer” is unchecked and click “Next”
d.) Select “Use the following port” and choose the port that the first printer is on (the above case, I’ll choose ATLUSB001)
e.) In the printer list, choose “Zebra Technologies” for the manufacturer and choose the correct model printer. I choose “Zebra P640i”, because that is what I have. Click “Next”.
f.) On the next screen, choose “Keep Existing Driver” then click “Next”.
g.) For printer name, choose something meaningful. I chose “Pool”. It is up to you if you want this printer to be the default printer. Click “Next”.
h.) It is up to you if you want to share the printer. I chose “Do not share this printer”. Click “Next”
g.) It is up to you if you want to print a test page. I chose “No”. Click “Next”
i.) Click “Finish”
j.) In “Printers and Faxes”, there should now be a printer called “Pool” (or whatever you named it).
k.) Right click on the printer and click “Properties”
l.) Click the “Ports” tab
m.) Check the “Enable Printer Pooling” box
n.) In the list of ports, select the other ports that have printers connected to them (remember, one port was selected on initial install). In my case, I check the “ATLUSB002” and “ATLUSB003” ports for my setup.
o.) Click “OK”
p.) Go to your “pool” printer and make sure printing preference choices are identical to the other printers in your “pool”.
3.) Now, what we have is:
- 3 printers (Zebra P640i 1, 2, and 3)
- one “pool” which is all of them
4.) How to use it:
- Jobs should be sent to “Pool”. They will start printing to one printer. When that printer has taken as many jobs as it can (2 – one actively printing, and one waiting to be printed), the jobs will “spill over” to the next printer, and then to the last printer. Note that if you are only printing two jobs, they would all go to the first printer. Pooling is not a load-balancing methodology, it is a spill-over methodology.
- Any needed configuration and maintenance should be done by accessing menus through the individual printers (ex. Zebra P640i 1). This allows direct control over that specific printer. Attempting to do this through the pooled printer (“Pool”) will often produce undesirable results, since it will attempt to apply the change to ALL printers in the pool. Also note that one can print cards directly to the single printers, allowing for testing of any changes or maintenance performed.
IMPORTANT: When making changes to individual printers, make sure to uncheck the port it uses in the pooled printer’s property page.