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 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 setting required to use other types of labels or if the configuration settings are altered by 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 proper top of form identification
  • Assure the Maximum length is longer that 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

  • Check Media and Ribbon Loading  Incorrect loading can result in media errors if the sensors are not seeing the media correctly.
    - Media Loading Read More>>
    - Ribbon Loading Read More>>
  • Verify the LCD Display  MAXIMUM LENGTH is set longer than labels used Read More>>
  • Try Defaulting the printer and allow it to run Auto Calibration Read More>>
  • Verify the correct sensor is selected for the media type 
  • Use the MARK Sensor for media with a black bar on the backing
  • Use the GAP/NOTCH (Transmissive) Sensor for gap, notch or hole media
  • Verify the moveable Transmissive Sensor is correctly positioned Read More>>
NOTE This only applies if you are not using black mark media
  • Perform Manual Calibration Read More>>
  • If the problem persist a Media Sensor Profile can be sent to Tech Support for analysis Read More>>
NOTE Press the FEED Button after calibrating. If one label feeds each time pressed then 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                                                      
  • Check Media Loading and assure the guides are keeping the media aligned Read More>>
  • Verify the printer is set to the correct Media Type. If set to Continuous the printer will not track Top-of-Form. Read More>>  
  • Verify the labels are compatible with the media specifications.
  • Press the FEED Button. If one label feed each time pressed, check your label format or Driver/Software for the source of the problem.
  • Try Defaulting and verify printer has calibrated correctly Read More>>
  • Check the Transmissive Sensor position Read More>>
  • Perform Manual Calibration Read More>>
  • If the problem persist a Media Sensor Profile can be sent to Tech Support for analysis Read More>>
NOTE If the printer fails after receiving a label request from your data source then there are likely commands 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 Read More>>  
Helpful Info - Media identification details
Print Method – Thermal Transfer (Using Ribbon) or Direct Thermal (No Ribbon) – Default - Thermal Transfer Read More>>

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 limited to the options you have installed. Read More>> 
Media Loading - The media must be properly loaded for the Print Mode you intend to use.

Click here to view video -> Media Loading Video


  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 Read More>>

Transmissive Sensor – This is adjustable position sensor that has a red light to helps you to position for proper sensor placement. It can be viewed when the printhead is opened and the printer is powered on. This sensor is used for sensing label Gaps, Holes, and Notches. See the Transmissive Sensor Read More>> 

Reflective  Sensor - This is a fixed position inter-label gap type media sensor used for Black Mark Media.  See the Reflective Sensor Read More>> 

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 form can be detected. This can be an inter-label gap, a hole or 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 it is seen as the labels feed. Here is more detail on positioning the moveable sensor Read More>>

  1. Media Feed Power up action.

The printer can be configured to position or calibrate the media after head closure or when powered on. These are configured using the LCD Display or can be configured from your utility/application. Read More>> 
These configurations are detailed as follows

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

For recommendations on these selections Read More>>

  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 then 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 inch 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 - ^XA^ML1421^XZ  Read More>> 

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

>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.
6. 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 calibrated successfully. 
  • If the printer fails to feed properly or there is a Media Out indication, perform the Manual Calibration.

Procedure

Click here to view video -> Manual Calibration Video

+ 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