ZT400 Series Printers -- Calibrating the Printer and correcting Media Errors

Article ID: 71379801

Issue / Question

Understanding the media configurations needed for the ZT400 Series printer for proper calibration and avoiding media errors.

  • Understanding printer calibration
  • Adjusting the Media Sensors
  • Correcting Paper Out Errors
  • Correcting image drift problems 
  • Labels stopping at random locations
  • Labels skipping or occasional blank label
  • Labels are not lining up or are not aligned

Applicable To

ZT410 and ZT420 Printers

Resolution / Answer

The ZT400 Series printer has an LCD Display for printer configuration but can use ZPL commands as well for printer configuration.

These are free utilities or applications that can be used to configure a connected printer.

Application or Utility Comment
Zebra Setup Utility 
Zebra Setup Utilities - Downloading ZSU & Configuring Printer Settings                                            
This is a free Windows-based utility that features a printer setup wizard for a simple printer or network setup.  
ZebraNet Bridge  
Setup or modifying a Zebra Printer Configuration using ZebraNet Bridge                                 
This is a Windows-based enterprise application for network printer management but is free to use for configuring a network or locally connected printer
ZebraNet Print Server Webpage 
Using the ZebraNet Print Server Web Page to configure the printer                               
The ZebraNet Print Server has a Webpage that is accessed from a browser when you enter the printer's IP Address.
Printer configurations can be viewed and altered.
ZebraDesigner Driver 
Configure or Modify Basic ZebraDesigner Driver Settings Information                                                                    
If you are using the ZebraDesigner Driver there is a Printing Preferences section that allows you to configure your printer.


The printer can be used for a variety of media and verifying the media-related settings is required when any problems are encountered.

By default, the printer will calibrate and function correctly with the most commonly used standard gap labels.
Problems can occur if there are specific settings required to use other types of labels or if the configuration settings are altered by the miss-configured driver or label printing applications, or incorrectly altering LCD configuration settings.

This procedure will help users understand printer setup and configuration for accurate calibration/registration of your labels.

This includes:

  • Identifying the media being used
  • Correctly configuring the printer for Black Mark or Gap media
  • Selecting the correct sensors for the media being used
  • Correctly positioning the movable sensor for the proper top of form identification
  • Assure the Maximum length is longer than the length of labels being used
  • Assuring the printer is correctly calibrated for the media
  • Troubleshooting suggestions for Paper Out or registration issues


NOTE Media refers to the labels, tags, card stock, and so on. In summary the supplies you use in the printer.


Common Issues and Resolutions:
Problem Resolution
Media Out - Load Media Error
Solid Red Supplies Light

NOTE This only applies if you are not using black mark media
NOTE Press the FEED Button after calibrating. If one label feeds each time it's pressed, the printer is properly calibrated. Verify Software/Driver settings are not changing the calibrated values or printer configurations.

Labels are skipping or 
the print image is wandering                                                      
NOTE If the printer fails after receiving a label request from your data source, likely commands are being sent from the host that are overwriting the printer configurations. Check your host driver or application settings and assure they match the printer settings.



  1. Understand 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

Media Type: Continuous, Gap/Notch, and Black Mark. Default is Gap/Notch. Refer to ZT410/420 User Guide: Print Settings > Media Type to learn more.
Print Method: Thermal Transfer (Using Ribbon) or Direct Thermal (No Ribbon). Thermal Transfer is the default. Refer to ZT410/420 User Guide: Print Settings > Print Method to learn more. 
Helpful Info: Refer to Media and Ribbon Identification for examples of different Media types. 

NOTE Print Method does not apply if your printer is Direct Thermal only. There are no ribbon spindles or settings.

Print Mode: Tear-Off, Cutter, Peel, Rewind
RFID:  Default is Tear-Off 

This is related to the label presentation after printing and is limited to the options you have installed. Please refer to ZT410/420 User Guide: Print Settings
Media Loading: The media must be properly loaded for the Print Mode you intend to use.

How To Load Ribbon and Media: 



  1. Understand the Media Sensors

The printer comes with two sensors for label tracking based on the Media Type used. The Media Sensor selection is under the LCD Display SENSOR Menu > SENSOR TYPE. To learn more about sensor type, please refer to ZT410/420 User Guide: Sensor Settings.

Transmissive Sensor: This is an adjustable position sensor that has a red light to help you position for proper sensor placement. You can see it when the printhead is opened and the printer is powered on. This sensor is used for sensing labels Gaps, Holes, and Notches.

Reflective Sensor: This is a fixed position inter-label gap type media sensor used for Black Mark Media.  

The black mark must be located on the inboard side of the label since this sensor is fixed in position and mounted against the inner wall.

  1. Position the moveable sensor

The moveable or adjustable position sensor must be placed so the top of the form can be detected. This can be an inter-label gap, a hole, or a notch. When using typical labels on a backing with an inter-label gap, the sensor can be positioned along the width of the label as long as it is not over the rounded edge. If using a hole or notch, position the sensor's red light directly under the hole or notch, so you can see it as the labels feed. For more details on positioning the moveable sensor, please refer to Positioning the ZT400 Gap Sensor for Unique Labels

  1. Media Feed Power-Up action

The printer can be configured to position or calibrate the media after head closure or when powered on. You can configure this using the LCD Display or from your utility or application. For details, refer to ZT410/420 User Guide: Calibration and Diagnostic Tools.

These configurations are detailed as follows:

  • Calibrate (Default)
  • Feed
  • Length
  • No Motion
  • Short Cal

For recommendations on these selections, refer to Media Feed (Power Up Action/Head Close Action)

  1. Maximum Label Length


NOTE You probably don't have to change this from the 39" default so ignore the Maximum Label Length discussion if you have defaulted the printer or are setting the printer up for the first time. If your printer is feeding less than a label length and experiencing a Media Out Error, you may want to see if this setting was incorrectly configured. 

Label Length Max setting: It should be noted that if the printer Maximum Length setting is changed from the default 39'' it should be set to a value 1'' longer than the longest label you intend to use.  For example, on a 203dpi printer using a 6'' label, set the Maximum Length value to 7''( 7x203 = 1421).
Here is the ZPL:
For more details, please refer to ZT410/420 User Guide: Print Settings.

To view the existing MAXIMUM LENGTH  setting on the printer print a configuration label or request a configuration from your host.

Setting the  Label Length Maximum

LCD Display: MAXIMUM LENGTH (Set to 1" longer than the actual length)

There are no settings in the Zebra Setup Utility so if required, create a ZPL file with the recommended Maximum Label Length.


^XA^MLxxxxx^XZ (Sets the length in dots)
^XA^JUS^XZ. (Saves the value)

Send the file using your utility or application.

  1. Calibrate the printer for the media

If the calibration process failed, perform ZT400 Media Sensor Cleaning and re-run the calibration again.

(This step assumes you have not changed the Media Feed Power Up Action from the default Calibrate setting.)

  • With media loaded power on the printer.
  • The printer should complete the power-on self-test and begin to feed labels.
  • The printer should stop feeding labels and be in the printer ready state 
  • Press the FEED button several times. A single label should feed and come to the same resting position each time. 
  • The printer has been successfully calibrated. 
  • If the printer fails to feed properly or there is a Media Out indication, perform the Manual Calibration.

To learn more about the procedure, please refer to ZT410/420 User Guide: Calibration and Diagnostic Tools.

For more detailed instructions, please refer to Video: Manual Calibration


+ Product Codes

  • All Surface RFID Label Solution
  • ZT400 Series Industrial Printers
  • ZT400 Series RFID Printers
  • ZT410 Industrial Printer
  • ZT410 RFID Industrial Printer
  • ZT420 Industrial Printer
  • ZT420 RFID Industrial Printer