Here are the 15 label printer maintenance tips: Thermal LabelPrinter Maintenance Tip #1 One of the greatest failures occurring in thermal label printers
is due to the printheads
not being cleaned regularly. A good rule of thumb is to clean the printhead
on each of your thermal label printers
every time you replace a ribbon
or roll of paper. It takes only about a minute and this action could save you thousands of dollars over the life of the printer.
Follow the instructions in your User’s Manual as to the type of cleaning solvent to be used for your specific model. Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #2 If you feel you are burning out printheads
too often on your thermal label printer
, you may want to check your User’s Manual for the recommended heat and darkness settings. An incorrect setting often will reduce the printhead
life and could cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the printer.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #3 Dust residing on the Media Sensor can cause major service issues. The Media Sensor is the mechanism that insures that the gap between the paper and the printhead
Most people purchase a bottle of "canned air" and simply give the Media Sensor a few quick blasts of air, which will usually clear out any dust residue left over from the roll paper. You should consider doing this regularly, every time you change the ribbon
or a roll of paper. It will only take a few seconds and it will ensure more up-time.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #4 If you are using a ribbon
in your thermal label printer
, be sure that it is a good quality ribbon
. Lower cost ribbons
are often not manufactured to the exact wax and/or resin specifications of your printer and could cause a wax build-up on the platen.
Wax build-up can cause poor print quality resulting in barcode reliability issues.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #5 If you are using a thermal label printer
that does not use a ribbon
(typically called a Direct Thermal printer vs. a Thermal Transfer printer that does use ribbons) and you are constantly having problems with defective printheads
, you may want to consider either changing your printer to a Thermal Transfer printer
or using a better quality paper.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #6 A good rule of thumb, when purchasing new ribbons
on thermal transfer printers
, is to purchase a ribbon
that is slightly wider than the actual labels
that you are using. For instance, if the label
that you are using is 4.1" in width, then you may want to consider purchasing ribbons
that are 4.33" in width.
This extra width will help keep more lubrication on the printhead
and help extend printhead
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #7 Are you wearing out printheads? If so, here is something you may want to check.
Be sure that you are not using low grade label
paper if you are using Direct Thermal printers
. Often bargain priced rolls of paper really are not a "bargain".
There may be situations where it looks like information is missing on your labels
and/or barcodes when they are being printed. There is always a chance that one or more of the print elements in your thermal label printerprinthead
may be burned out.
Before calling someone for a thermal label printer repair
, you may want to try this simple test that only takes a few moments to see if in fact it is your print elements. Keep in mind that most manufacturer's considers printheads
as consumables and they must be replaced from time to time. Typically this is performed by a qualified printer repair technician
2. Press and hold the Pause key while turning the Zebra printer
on. Hold the Pause key until the first control panel light turns off.
The initial test pattern will start printing 15 labels
at the Zebra printer's
slowest speed, and then it will automatically pause the printer. Each time the Pause key is pressed, the Zebra printer
will print another 15 labels
While the printer is paused, pressing the Cancel alters the self test. Each time the Pause key is pressed, 15 labels
print at 6 inches per second.
While the printer is paused, pressing the Cancel again alters the self test a second time. Each time the Pause key is pressed, 50 labels
are printed at the Zebra printer's
While the printer is paused, pressing the Cancel again alters the self test a third time. Each time the Pause key is pressed, 50 labels
are printed at the 6 inches per second.
While the printer is paused, pressing the Cancel again alters the self test a fourth time. Each time the Pause key is pressed, the printer will print 15 labels
at the printer's maximum speed.
3. To exit the self test at any time, press and hold Cancel.
The actual Pause Test label
will indicate on it if one of the print elements on the printhead
is defective as part of the test pattern. Part of the test pattern printed is total black, and if there is a defective printhead
, this portion of the test label will indicate white spots. This indicates that there is a bad print element and the printhead
will need replacing. At this point you may need to call a printer repair company
Thermal Printer Maintenance Tip #9 What are printer and print server alerts? Should you pay attention to them?
Alerts give you the ability to proactively manage your thermal label printer
and print server. If the printer or print server has an error, you would be sent an alert notifying you of the situation. Zebra provides ZebraNet Bridge that gives you control to monitor your bar code printers from anywhere, and documents the alerts to a log file.
A soon as ZebraNet Bridge receives an alert, the alert appears in the Events tab. If you have not viewed the alert yet in the Events tab, the box in the status bar at the bottom of the application shows:
Alert severity by color
You can configure ZebraNet Bridge to notify you by blinking the application tab in the task bar. Remember, ZebraNet Bridge only logs alerts that occur while the application is running.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #10 Clean the exterior and interior area of your thermal label printer
To keep your thermal label printer
running optimally, remember to clean the interior and exterior of the printer. When these areas are dirty, the chance of debris getting into the wrong area is increased.
To clean the exterior surfaces of the printer use a lint-free cloth. Do not use harsh or abrasive cleaning agents or solvents. If necessary, a mild detergent solution or desktop cleaner may be used sparingly.
You should inspect the interior area after every four rolls of media. Remove any dirt and lint from the interior of the printer using a soft bristle brush and/or vacuum cleaner.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #11 Don't forget to clean the Printhead
and Platen Roller!
To keep your thermal label printer
running at its optimum it is a good rule of thumb to clean it regularly. If you recognize inconsistent print quality, such as voids in the bar code or graphics, this may indicate a dirty printhead
. For best results, perform the following cleaning procedure after every roll of ribbon.
Note:You do not need to turn off the printer before cleaning the printhead
. If the power is turned off, all label
formats and images, as well as any temporarily saved parameter settings stored in the printer's internal memory, are lost. When the power is turned back on, you will need to reload these items.
Moisten an applicator tip with solvent and wipe along the print elements from end to end. (The print elements are on the brown strip just behind the chrome strip on the printhead .) Allow a few seconds for the solvent to evaporate.
Rotate the platen roller and clean thoroughly with solvent and an applicator.
Brush/vacuum any accumulated paper lint and dust away from the rollers.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #12 Extend the life of your printhead
and reduce consumable costs.
is the most critical component in your printer, and possibly the most delicate. It is a consumable item just like the brakes on your car, which eventually wears over time. However, with ongoing careful attention and maintenance, you can extend the life of the printhead!
Below are photographs of three printheads
. The first printhead
is brand new. The second has printed over 1 million linear inches of thermal transfer labels
and has been properly maintained. The third printhead
has printed far fewer labels , but without proper care and maintenance, signs of abrasion and contamination build-up are evident (see below).
The Media, Ribbon and Label
Available Sensors should be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure proper operation of your thermal label printer
. (To locate these sensors - see diagrams below).
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #14 Do you know what the Snap Plate is? You should and it should be regularly cleaned for optimal operation of your thermal label printer.
The Snap Plate should be cleaned to remove label
adhesive or a label
that has adhered to the underside of the Snap Plate (see below).
Insert a small-blade screwdriver or similar tool into the loop on the left side of the Snap Plate. Lift the Snap Plate. Caution: Take care not to bend, twist, or otherwise deform the loops!
Repeat step one on the right side of the Snap Plate.
Remove the Snap Plate from the printer.
Clean the Snap Plate with cleaning solvent and a soft cloth.
To reinstall the Snap Plate, insert the two tabs on the bottom of the Snap Plate into the two slots of the media pathway.
Slide the Snap Plate toward you.
Press down on the loops to lock the Snap Plate into place.
Thermal Label Printer Maintenance Tip #15 Does your thermal label printer
have the optional cutter module?
Be sure to clean this to ensure it is working optimally.
are not being cut properly or if the cutter jams with labels
, turn off the printer power and unplug the printer. Then, clean the stationary cutter blade with cleaning solvent removing label
adhesive and/or paper debris.