QL Plus Series Printer Setup Overview
The Zebra QL Plus series printer can be used in a wide variety of applications using many different media types (direct thermal only) to suit your printing needs. This flexibility is due to the printer's ability to be configured and adjusted for all the variability an application may introduce. Understanding the printer configurations will enhance your ability to optimize your printer to meet your printing needs and also understand the limitations of the printer.
The printer comes from the factory set to tear-off mode with black mark media and adjusted for full width paper label stock. Many printing applications will function with these factory settings and require no additional adjustments beyond the communications setup and minor darkness adjustment. However, depending on the media being used and application requirements, some setup may be required to allow for optimal performance.
Media Related Settings - Media refers to the labels, tags, stock, used in the printer.
Print Quality - Modifying Print Speed, Darkness, etc., to achieve quality print.
Communications Setup - USB, Serial, Wireless, and Bluetooth.
Printing App, Driver, or Program
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
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.
Media Related Configurations
Note: As mentioned above, it is important to ensure all driver and applications settings match what you are setting the printer up for to ensure that the printer does not encounter errors due to improper settings being applied.
>Media Type – Continuous, Gap/Notch, and Black Mark. Default is Black Mark (Bar).
Helpful Info - Media identification details Read More>>
Helpful Info - Setting Media Type in the Driver (Termed as "Tracking Mode" in driver) Read More>>
>Print Method – QL Plus Series Mobile Printers are Direct Thermal only. They do not support Thermal Transfer printing or the use of ribbon.
>Print Mode – Tear off and Peel and Present are the two supported Print Modes – Default is Tear off, Read More below for additional detail on Peel-off mode
This is related to the label presentation after printing and limited to the options you have installed. Read More>>
Helpful Info - Setting Driver for proper Print Mode ("Operation Mode") Read More>>
>Media Loading - The media must be properly loaded for the Print Mode you intend to use.
2. Understanding the Media Sensors
The printer comes with two fixed sensors for label tracking based on the Media Type used (Black Mark or Gap/Notch). Black mark is the default setting for QL Plus Series Printers. There are requirements that need to be met by the media in order to be within specifications for the sensors to properly detect and calibrate. Any sensing marking on the media (Black Mark, Gap, Notch, etc.) should be located in the break between each label/tag. The following link includes printer specifications (media specs are listed as well). Read More>>
Transmissive/Reflective Sensor – The Transmissive Sensor is used for sensing label Gaps, Holes, and Notches while the Reflective Sensor is used for Mark Media. The Sensors are located in the center of the media path as shown here. The following link shows a photo of the Gap Sensor location and bar/mark sensor. Read More>>
3. Calibrate the printer for the media.
Important: This may be the most crucial and beneficial step in properly configuring the printer.
If you are receiving media out errors or the printer is not properly feeding your media. This does require a file to be sent to the printer and the file needed is dependent on the media that you are using. By default the printer will be set to use the Black Mark (reflective) sensor and Label media (media that does have a separation, or non-continuous). Read More>>
Print quality is a product of proper printer setup and use of compatible media for the application. In most cases, the default settings of the printer will yield quality print. However, you can modify certain settings to improve quality if needed. The three impacting factors to consider are:
1. The Media capabilities. The QL Plus Series printers only support Direct Thermal media. If you are not getting any print on the label, please ensure you have direct thermal media and that it is loaded properly. Read More>>
Not all media is the same when it comes to being compatible with your application or needs. Printing speed, durability of the image/media, and environment are just a few factors to consider when determining the printer setup for the application.
2. Print Speed
The printer is capable of printing at multiple print speeds. The speed selection works in tandem with your darkness setting. Typically the slower the print speeds used the lower your darkness setting can be. The higher the print speed, the higher your darkness will need to be set. In general, slower print speeds yield better print quality.
See the CPCL Programming Guide for information on the "SPEED" CPCL Command Read More>>
Setting the Print Speed using ZPL Commands Read More>>
3. Print Darkness
Print Darkness (also may be referred to as Density or Burn Temperature) is a user adjustable setting. You can also use a setup utility or the printer driver if available to set the print darkness. Darkness being set too low will yield poor quality print, while it being set to high can cause blotchy print or bleeding of the ink within the print. Trying to compensate for poor media compatibility by using high darkness settings can impact your printer’s printhead life. Vary the darkness to produce the best print quality.
Setting Darkness Using CPCL (if CPCL is used for printing) Read More>>
Setting the Darkness using the ZPL commands Read More>>
Note: The printjob itself can also contribute to the quality of print that you receive. If a third party application is being used such as a web application, .pdf file, or any other design application, the file may be converted to a graphic so that the printer can properly interpret and print the data. Graphics will typically print with lower quality than if you were to send direct CPCL/ZPL code and this can cause barcode scanning issues or poorly printed text on the media.
A Zebra compatible driver must be installed before connecting the printer.
USB Details Read More>>
The serial communication port on the printer is RS-232C, all parameters must be matched on the printer and host. See the spec sheet below serial port information:
QL Plus Series Specs Read More>>
Wireless Network Setup
Wireless network setup requires you to first establish communication to a Windows PC via USB (recommended). You then have to use either our Zebra Setup Utilities or ZebraNet Bridge Enterprise software to configure the printer for your network.
- ZebraNet Bridge can be used to 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 wireless network. This is the recommended software to use. Read More>>
- Supported Wireless Securities Read More>>
Additional Setup Detail:
Loading Root Certificate to Zebra Mobile Printer Read More>>
Zebra bluetooth printers are 'slave' devices and the 'master' device must initiate the connection. The printers by default should be set to discoverable and without a PIN. If you have issues pairing with the device or wish to set a PIN or friendly name for the device you can do so using our Zebra Setup Utilities. Read More>>
When connecting to a Windows PC, you must first add (or discover) the bluetooth device and then install a driver for the printer so you can specify the appropriate COM port to allow for communication.
Windows 7 Bluetooth Configuration and Driver Install Read More>>
Windows 8 Bluetooth Configuration and Driver Install Read More>>
Android Bluetooth Setup Read More>>
Note: If printing from Android devices a custom application will be needed you can use our Zebralink Multiplatform SDK for assistance. Read More>>
We do offer a demo app from the PlayStore, "Zebra Utilities", but it is not a full functioning application and is not intended for use in production.
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, CPCL, EPL, or Line Print. The printer will not respond if the label format received does not contain the required programming commands for label printing. To print, 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>>
Zebra offers ZebraDesigner Version 2 Software for Label Creation Read More>>
Utilities and Drivers
|Application or Utility
|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
|ZPL Programmers Guide Read More>>
||The ZPL Programming Guide contains useful commands to control the printer's settings as well as the print that it produces.
|ZDesigner Driver Read More>>
||If you are using the ZDesigner Driver there is a Printing Preferences section that allows you to configure your printer.