ZXP Series 1 and ZXP Series 3 Initial Printer Setup Details and Information

Article ID: 77684339

Issue / Question

How to solve the print quality issues?

How to set up communications for the printer?

Applicable To

ZXP1 Series and ZXP3 Series

Resolution / Answer

ZXP Series 1 and ZXP Series 3 Printer Setup Overview

The Zebra ZXP Series 1 and ZXP Series 3 Card Printers can be used in a wide variety of applications using many different media types to suit your printing needs.

There are 4 sections in this article:

Media Related Settings

Understanding your media

Zebra ZXP Series 1 and ZXP Series 3 Card Printers support PVC and PVC Composite cards. It is recommended that these cards are 15mil-40mil in thickness. Only Zebra ribbon is supported in the printer for printing. The specs within the link below provide more detail on what the printer will support as far as media is related.

Media Related Information

Card Type 
ZXP1 and ZXP3 Card Printers support many different card types, but it is required to stay within the specs of what the printer can handle to ensure proper operation.

Refer to the table below for the card specifications:

Types PVC and PVC Composite
Card Width/Length ISO CR-80-ISO 7810: 2.125" x 3.375" (54mm x 86mm)
Card Thickness 015" to .040" (For optimum performance, use standard .030" cards)
Magnetic Stripe Spec ISO 7811
Smart Card Contact (ZXP3 only) ISO7816-1,2,3,4
Smart Card Contactless MIFARE (ZXP3 only) ISO14443A/B

Ribbon Information

ZXP Series 1: ZXP Series 3:
The ZXP Series 1 is designed to work only with Zebra True Colours ix-Series ZXP Series 1 ribbon. The options available are full-colour YMCKO ribbon, half YMCKO, black monochrome, and white monochrome ribbons.   The ZXP Series 3 is designed to work with i-Series intelligent media technology.  It supports YMCKO, YMCKOK, Half Panel YMC/Full KO, KdO, KrO, as well as black, blue, green, gold, red, silver, or white monochrome ribbons.

For information on how to purchase Zebra Card and Ribbon or to verify that you have the correct media, refer to Where to Buy Zebra Card Printers and Supplies.

Media Loading 
The media must be properly loaded to ensure jams do not occur and media errors do not display on the printer.
Below are the links to the PDF guides:

Setting the appropriate Print Driver
Double-Sided Printing
When accessing the printer's properties, enter the Printing Preferences to configure specific settings. The driver should automatically detect the installed ribbon type in the printer properties section. For more information, refer to the article 
Setting ZXP Series 3 for Doublesided Printing.

NOTE This attempt can only be done by the ZXP3 that has the double-sided printing function.
Ensure that the appropriate ribbon combination is selected.

Single Card Feeding
For printers equipped with the single card feed kit, configurations to the driver and printer can be made by feeding individual cards. For those without the kit equipped, the kit is available for upgrade. For more information, refer to the article 
Using the ZXP1 and ZXP3 for a Single Card Feed Application.

Print Quality

When using Zebra Card Printers, Zebra branded ribbons should be used so that the printer can detect the ribbon and color panels to provide the appropriate color prints. In addition, it is recommended to use Zebra branded cards so that the card materials do not cause issues with the printing or adhering ink onto the cards. If there are issues found regarding the print quality, below are the steps to correct or optimize output:

  • Ensure that the most current driver and firmware is used 
Zebra Card Printer driver and firmware updates contain fixes for ribbon sensing issues and print quality issues. Before attempting troubleshooting, it is recommended to check the driver and firmware's latest available patch. For more information, refer to the article Checking Driver and Firmware Version for Zebra Card Printers.
  • Attempt Calibration to the Printer's Ribbon Sensors
Zebra Card Printers use RFID technology to detect the ribbon type installed so to ensure proper printing occurs based on the color panel. If incorrect colors are printed, attempt recalibrating the unit. For more information, refer to the article Calibrating the Ribbon Sensor on the Value Class and ZXP Series Printers.
  • Print Darkness/Black Print Optimization
The driver settings for the printer can be modified to optimize black printing or barcode quality. For more information, refer to the article Black Color Not Printing Dark Enough on Zebra Card Printer.
  • Cleaning the Printer
A new printer should not require cleaning. However, if specs are seen within the printing or overall quality issues are seen that have not been corrected following the steps above, attempt a printer cleaning. For more information, refer to the article Cleaning the ZXP Series 1 and ZXP Series 3 Printer.

Communications Setup

  • USB
A Zebra-compatible driver must be installed before connecting the printer. This will allow Windows plug-and-play to properly detect the device and install the driver for the printer. For more information, refer to the article Installing a Card Printer Driver on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8.
  • Network Setup
To set up the printer onto a network or installing a network driver for your printer if it has an ethernet option, refer to the article Assigning IP Address and Installing Network Driver Zebra ZXP Series 1 and ZXP Series 3.

To verify the communication setup with a Test Card, refer to the article Printing a Test Card on a ZXP Series 1 and ZXP Series 3 Printer Using the Tools Option.

Printing App or Program

The ZXP Series 1, ZXP Series 3, ZXP Series 7, and ZXP Series 8 do not have a supported native printer language. This differs from the legacy printers such as the Performance and Value Class Card Printers which support EPCL. The newer card printers rely on a set of support utilities to communicate with the printer. In addition, programmers have a robust SDK that can be used for application development for both models. For more information, refer to the article Printer Language Supported on the ZXP Series Printers.

Utilities and Drivers

Application or Utility Comment
CardStudio's ID Card Design Software This is a licensed card design software that Zebra offers.  It can be used to develop card designs for printing.
Read Card Software Development Kit This is a software development kit containing information developing applications for printing to Zebra card printers.
ZXP Series 1 Support Page The Support page contains How-to videos for the printer as well as manuals, driver downloads, and firmware downloads.
ZXP Series 3 Support Page The Support page contains How-to videos for the printer as well as manuals, driver downloads, and firmware downloads.


IMPORTANT! The commands from the driver and software may impact the printer's setting. Misconfigurations may result in failure during the printing process. Ensure all settings match the printer settings to avoid intermittent issues.

Helpful Information:

+ Product Codes

  • ZXP Series 1 Standard Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 1 Standard Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 3 Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 3 Professional Card Printers
  • ZXP Series 3 with Security Enclosures
  • ZXP Series 3C Card Printers (China Only)