Issue / Question
How can I communicate with this printer?
How can I print from an app or program?
How can I set up the printer driver?
How can I improve the print quality?
How can I set up this printer to use the labels and ribbon I have?
Resolution / Answer
ZD420 Series Printer Setup Overview
This in-depth information is provided should you have any questions or problems initially setting up and using your printer. Most applications do not require in-depth knowledge of thermal transfer printing to be properly setup for acceptable printer function.
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 if using a Zebra driver.
The printer is typically configured from your host device using a driver, utility/software, or sending the printer's command language (ZPL Only).
Test Print without Data
To test the printer without connecting to a data source (stand alone mode) you can perform the following actions.
- Load Printer with Media.
- Loading Ribbon (if used). For more details, watch Video: ZD420 Changing Ribbon.
- Power on the Printer.
- Run Smart Calibration. For more information, watch Video: ZD420 Media Calibration.
- Print a Configuration Report. Watch Video: ZD420 Printing a Configuration Report for more information.
Button Press Setup
The ZD420 printers are different from older Zebra Desktop Model Printers as they do not utilize the feed button flash sequences to modify settings since they use the new Link-OS firmware. They differ by having a three button front panel that supports configuration in standard and an Advanced Mode.
In the Advanced Mode you can perform several setup functions including calibration, print width adjustments, and darkness. For more information, refer to ZD420: Advanced Mode Details.
The Front Panel is described here: Operator Controls.
See Video: Getting Started to view a typical printer installation procedure.
||NOTE Any setup configurations performed using the printer buttons can be overwritten by a driver or application that sends configuration commands.
||IMPORTANT! If you are using a USB connection to the printer, install the Zebra Driver (or Zebra Setup Utility) before connecting the USB cable to the printer to ensure Windows properly detects and installs 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 (ZPL) then do not use a Zebra Printer Driver as when direct ZPL code is sent through the ZDesigner driver it acts as a pass-through tool and simply prints the code sent on the label. 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 mismatched 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 has printing specifications that are sent as commands to the printer. Make sure all settings match the printer settings to avoid intermittent issues.
Media Related Settings and Calibration
The ZD420 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 you will need to determine the methods used to set these configurations in that application and be aware that the terminology for each setting in your environment may be different.
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. For more information refer to Media and Ribbon Identification.
Here are the details you should know for printer media setup and configuration. The ZebraDesigner Driver or Zebra Setup Utility can be used to generate the configuration commands in the examples below (the configurations are sent when printing to the printer using the driver or using the print test page button when setting up the driver for your printer).
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)
- 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.
- If you are using media that has no break similar to receipt paper set the Tracking Mode for Continuous.
- The printer by default will have the sensor centered under the media and being used as a gap/notch sensor while located within the alignment key.
- The sensor is adjustable and can be moved off center to change the sensor type being used to black mark sensing and allow for you to position the sensor wherever the black mark separator may be located on your label/tag: ZD420C: Using the Movable Sensor.
- Print Method (Media Type) - Selections - Thermal Transfer (Using Ribbon) or Direct Thermal (No Ribbon)
ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Advanced Setup - Media Type)
- Print Mode - Selections- Tear off, Peel (Dispense Mode), or Cutter
ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Advanced Setup - Operation Mode)
This is related to the label presentation after printing and limited to the options you have installed.
The ZD420 Series supports all print modes listed above, but must be configured with the proper hardware and media. Again, your drivers and software/application must also match these settings to ensure no errors are encountered when printing.
- Media Loading - The media must be properly loaded for the Print Mode you intend to use.
Understanding the Media Sensors
The printer comes with sensors for label tracking based on the Media Type used. There is both a reflective and transmissive built into the printer and both are located within the same assembly (reflective is used for media with a black mark separator and transmissive is used for media with a gap or hole/notch as the separator). Either positioning of this module or drivers/utilities/software can be used to set the sensor properly for the media installed.
The sensor you will use requires configuration of the Tracking Mode (Mark/Web/Continuous) setting to be properly set in order to function with the media you are using.
A gap/hole or black mark must pass over the media sensor's position for the printer to properly detect and calibrate to the installed media.
For more information, refer to ZD420 Sensors.
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.
If the printer is properly calibrated, it should feed one label properly each time the feed button is pressed.
This is referred to as Thermal Transfer printing where an inked ribbon is used to produce the image on the label.
- Ribbon Basics Information explains the ribbon types and typical darkness and speed selections
- Ribbon Loading Information explains on how to insert ribbon cartridges.
- Ribbon Configuration - Select Thermal Transfer if you are using Ribbon, Direct Thermal if you are not using Ribbon.
Make sure to set this in the ZebraDesigner Driver (Printing Preferences - Advanced Setup - Media Type) or your printing application
Print quality is a product of proper printer setup and use of compatible media for the application. The three 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 darkness settings can impact your printer’s printhead life.
It is possible to receive poor quality print due to a mismatch of ribbon and media (certain ribbon matches certain media better than other media), but adjusting settings and checking all other variables is recommended before that conclusion is reached.
2. Print Speed
The printer is capable of printing at multiple print speeds.
The speed selection takes the media compatibility into consideration and works in tandem with your darkness setting (lower print speeds typically require lower darkness settings and vice versa).
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)
3. 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)
||NOTE The Driver or Software will overwrite the Printer Darkness setting so assure you match the values set with Advanced Mode to prevent unwanted changes.
There is an additional Darkness Setting Information that is additive to the printer setting.
USB - A Zebra compatible driver must be installed before connecting the printer. USB Details.
Serial - RS232 Null Modem, all parameters must be matched on the printer and host Serial Details.
Wired/Wireless Network - Printers that include a ZebraNet Print Server option can be connected to an Ethernet Network.
If your network supports DHCP the printer should be assigned an IP Address when the cable is connected.
If a DHCP address is acquired, you can use the ZebraNet Web Interface to configure you network settings using the path of typing the DHCP assigned IP address into a browser and then clicking Print Server Settings > Print Server (Username: admin Password: 1234) > TCP/IP Configuration > and modify your settings, and click submit so you can reset the network card to apply settings. This is the easiest way of configuring the network settings of the printer.
If this is not an option or does not properly apply your settings, you can move to the procedures below for configuring your printer for your network.
Using the ZebraNet Print Server Web Page to configure the printer
Unlike a Wired network connection, Wireless setup has to be done using one of our utilities. The printer can't discover a wireless network on its own. You will have to apply the appropriate settings to the printer for the network that you are attempting to connect to. You can use one of the following Utilities to set specific parameters or set a permanent IP address for your printer queue.
Setting up and Troubleshooting a Printer for a Wireless Network
- ZebraNet Bridge can be used to discover and assign the desired network settings.
- The Zebra Setup Utility has a network setup wizard that can be used to configure your printer for a wired or wireless network
The ZD400 Series Printers have the option of having Bluetooth installed (factory only). This can be configured for use with other Bluetooth devices and acts as a 'peripheral' device in the connection. For more information, refer to ZD410D: Bluetooth Option Configuration.
For Zebra Setup Utilities Bluetooth configuration, refer to Bluetooth Setup using the Zebra Setup Utility
The printer support a Bluetooth Low Energy feature included with Bluetooth 4.0.
There are no knows applications for this at this time and given its limited data length capabilities it is not used for printing.
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 (ZPL).
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 Label Format Creation Information.
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 you are using a non-Zebra application or driver consult with the vendor for details on printer setup and configuration.
ZD420D User Guide