Print quality is a product of proper printer setup and use of compatible media for the application. When ribbon is used for Thermal Transfer printing, it must be compatible with the labels to ensure the printer meets the requirements expected by the users.
Proper matching of the labels or ribbon assures the pressure and darkness settings do not have to be at the extremes to print correctly. Direct Thermal (no ribbon) labels must be approved for thermal printing applications since it does come in direct contact with the printhead.
Printer setup includes adjusting the printhead pressure properly, setting the appropriate darkness level, and optimizing the print speed. In addition, regular maintenance assures the printer is operating at an optimal level.
IMPORTANT! All printer settings can be impacted by commands from a mismatched or misconfigured driver or software application. A printer that is functioning well 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. Ensure all settings match with the printer settings to avoid intermittent issues.
Problems and Resolutions
NOTE Use the printer Pause Test Label when performing initial print quality adjustments. This will eliminate any issues introduced by the application or driver configurations. Refer to: PAUSE KEY SELF TEST.
The print is faded or too light when printing self-test
NOTE If the problem occurs after printing from your application, verify your driver or software configurations.
NOTE If there is a flood coating or preprint on the label surface where the print issue is occurring, check with your supplier for corrective action.
Watch this video and learn how to clean the printhead and platen:
How the ZT400 Series Printers work
There are 2 thermal printing methods:
Each method uses a thermal printhead that applies heat to the surface being marked.
Uses a heated ribbon to produce a durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials.
No ribbon is used, creating the image directly on the printed material.
Sensitivity to light, heat and abrasion
Reduce the life of the printed materials
Less sensitive compared to Direct Thermal media.
The printer uses a single row of heating elements in a printhead assembly that is pressed against a rubber roller called a platen. The printhead elements are heated as the ribbon (if used) and labels pass as they are pressed together to produce the image. Any factors that affect the transfer of heat being applied by the elements will result in print image problems (assuming the labels and ribbon are properly matched for the application).
Printhead Maintenance – Failure to properly clean the printhead elements can result in an insulating build-up that prevents heat transfer. This can also lead to element failure.
Printhead Pressure – The pressure must be sufficient to maintain a constant pressing of the printing media while the element heat is transferred. This pressure must be evenly distributed across the width of the label, so the image transfer is at the same intensity.
Burn Temperature – The darkness must be set high enough to meet the print darkness needed for the image transfer but not so high as to result in image spreading or burning of the ribbon carrier. Barcodes require that the bars and spaces are of equal width and increasing the darkness beyond those required can result in space width reduction and barcode scan failures
Print Width - The Print Width value determines the maximum width the printer will print. Most often it is set to the full width and the label format determines the printed area based on the image location. Applications and drivers may set a print width and reduce the printable area based label size. This is not a problem unless one attempts to print outside the previously restricted area. Check the LCD Display if this occurs to see if the PRINT WIDTH was changed.