This Solution is useful for:
- Configuring multiple printers to support volume printing
- Creating an overflow printer pool
All Performance and Value Class Card Printers
- A USB or Network printer driver Read More>>
- May need to have administrator rights to install or configure drivers
Printer Pooling is the act of distributing large quantities of print jobs among similar printers. In an environment where several printers are available, the user can pool the printers together to tackle large print requests. Instead of the user manually assigning certain print jobs to certain available printers, all of the jobs can be sent to one pool and automatically distributed. This solution explains how to set up a printer pool for Zebra card printers. It is standard option in Windows that is applicable to many types of printers, but here we describe the recommended method for Zebra card printers.
Before you begin it is worth noting that:
- Zebra printers store most of their configuration in the printer's memory and is somewhat contrary to the Microsoft printer configuration model. This can create problems with pooled printers since if one tries to make a change to any single printer the change is made to ALL pooled printers. This can cause adverse results. The method below helps to eliminate this problem.
- Printer pooling does not accommodate for single print jobs with many pages. It only distributes jobs, not individual pages, to the available printers.
- Printer pooling does not perform load balancing. A pool will always send the print job to the default printer in the pool if it is available.
Configure each printer individually
- Install the printers per the installation instructions. For the purposes of this document we will assume that the printers are attached to ports named “USB001”, “USB002”, and “USB003”, etc. If connecting the printers on the network, we will assume the same naming scheme with "Zebra Network Card Printer". At this point, it is prudent to test each printer. All printers must be configured similarly. These are some of the items that are to be set to the same values:
- Ribbon panel configuration (both type and what prints on what side of the card)
- Mag encoding configuration
- Black extraction configuration (if applicable)
Create the pool
We begin by collecting the port names or IP addresses for all of the printers to be added into our pool.
- Go to Start -> Printers and Faxes or Devices and Printers-> Right click on any one of the printers to be added to the pool -> Ports tab -> Take note of all the port names of the printers that will be added to the pool. If a USB printer, the port name may be of the form 'USB001'. If a network printer, it may be of the form 'IP_ 255.255.0.1' or 'ZPRT001'.
Next we create a printer that will represent our pool.
- Go to Start -> Printers and Faxes or Devices and Printers -> Add a Printer
- Click Next on the Add Printer Wizard welcome screen.
- Select Local Printer and make sure that Automatically Detect My Plug and Play Printer is unchecked and click Next
- Select "Use the following port" and choose the port that the first printer is on (i.e. USB001 or for Ethernet ZPRT001)
- In the printer list, choose Zebra Technologies for the manufacturer and choose the correct model printer (i.e. Zebra USB Card Printer, etc.). Click Next.
- On the next screen, choose “Keep Existing Driver” then click Next.
- For printer name, choose something meaningful, such as “Pool”. It is up to you if you want this printer to be the default printer. Click “Next”.
- Decide if you wish to share this pool with other computers on the network.
- Decide if you wish to print a test card.
- Click Finish
- In Printers and Faxes, there should now be a printer called “Pool” (or whatever you named it).
- Right click on the printer and click Properties
- Click the Ports tab
- Check the Enable Printer Pooling box
- In the list of ports, select the other ports that have printers connected to them (remember, one port was selected on initial install). In this example case, we check the “USB002” and “USB003”.
- Click OK
- Go to your Pool and make sure printing preference choices are identical to the other printers in your Pool
Now, we have 3 printers configured, Zebra USB Card Printer, Zebra USB Card Printer (Copy 1), and Zebra USB Card Printer (Copy 2) all assigned to "Pool".
How to use it:
- Jobs should be sent to “Pool” and results in printing to one printer. When that printer has taken as many jobs as it can (one printer actively printing, and more jobs queued), the queued jobs will spill over to the next printer, and then to the last printer. Note that if you are only printing a few small jobs they would all go to the first printer since Pooling is not load-balancing but an overflow methodology.
- Any needed configuration and maintenance should be done by accessing menus through the individual printers (i.e. Zebra USB Card Printer). 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.