Here are some general troubleshooting tips (in order of the first to last steps) that we recommend if you encounter issues with your Zebra printer when printing badges.
Troubleshooting Your Zebra Printer
Steps for calibrating ZD620 or ZD420 using SmartCal Media Calibration:
Ensure media is loaded correctly, the printer cover is closed, and the printer power is ON.
Press and hold PAUSE + CANCEL buttons for two seconds.
The printer will FEED and measure several labels. When done, the printer will return to READY status.
Note: if the printer fails to recognize and correctly calibrate to the media, please refer to the Manual Media Calibration procedure
Steps for calibrating ZD620 or ZD420 using Manual Media Calibration:
Activate Advanced Mode by pressing PAUSE for 2 seconds. Press PAUSE while the Status indicator is illuminated yellow to start Manual Media Calibration.
The Media indicator will flash yellow then the Pause indicator will flash. Open the printer and verify the media sensor is in the center position for label gap (transmissive) sensing.
Remove 3 inches or 80mm of labels from the liner. Place the label-less area of the liner over the platen (drive) roller with the leading edge of the first label under the media guides.
Close the printer and press PAUSE once. The Media indicator will flash as the media liner is measured. When complete, the Pause indicator will begin flashing.
Open the printer and reposition the media so that a label is located directly above the movable sensor. Close the printer.
Press PAUSE once. The printer will FEED and measure several labels. If the printer is able to determine the correct media type (gap, black mark or notch) and measure the media length, the printer will return to the READY state.
Steps for calibrating ZD500:
Press the select button under the HOME icon then use the navigation buttons to highlight the TOOLS icon.
Press select (✔️) then navigate to MANUAL CALIBRATION.
Press the select button under START.
The printer will report LOAD BACKING - PRINTER PAUSED.
Press the PAUSE button to continue and the printer will calibrate the media sensor.
When the printer reports RELOAD ALL - CONTINUE, press the PAUSE button to continue.
The printer will feed and measure several labels then the display READY when done.
2. Align the Sensor
If you're using badges with a hole in the backing, ensure the yellow sensor is positioned, so the gaps pass over it. Otherwise, position the yellow sensor in the middle of the printer.
Note: if your badges have punch-out sections for lanyards, position the sensor to the side of the center punch-out for the best results
3. Check the Media Type
Ensure that the correct media type is selected:
Press HOME, then select (✔️) SETTINGS.
Navigate to MEDIA TYPE.
If your badges have a black bar on the back, select MARK. Otherwise, select GAP/NOTCH.
4. Check the Sensor Type
Ensure that the correct sensor type is selected:
Press HOME, then navigate to the SENSORS menu.
If you're using badges with a hole in the backing, choose TRANSMISSIVE. If you're using any other type, choose REFLECTIVE.
How to Troubleshoot Specific Errors
1. Media Out
Do a calibration and ensure the yellow media guides fit closely but not tightly against either side of the badges.
Note: Sometimes a label may be missing somewhere in the middle of your roll of labels (not at the end of media). This will also cause a ‘Media Out” condition. To recover, just pull the media past the missing label until the next label is over the platen roller. Close the printer.
2. Cutter Error
Open the printer by pulling the release levers forward.
Remove the badge stock from the printer and check the slot at the front for any debris that could be obstructing the cutting area.
Reinsert the badge stock, making sure it’s inserted correctly with the black bar on the back of the badges facing down and the FEED DIRECTION arrows pointing toward the front of the printer.
As you insert the badge stock, double-check for debris in the slot at the front of the printer that could obstruct the cutting area, then firmly close the printer.
If the screen shows 'HEAD OPEN', simply open the printer again, and then close it firmly. The error should disappear.
Press the pause button. The cutter will activate, and a badge will feed forward. If the cutter is still jammed, repeat these steps until you see 'PRINTER READY'.
3. Badges are Cut at the Wrong Place
Do a calibration. If it is still cutting at the wrong place, try to adjust its TEAR OFF settings.
Adjusting TEAR OFF settings:
Press HOME then navigate to TEAR OFF menu.
This setting defaults to 0, set your desired settings (you may encounter several rounds of trial and error) For fanfold badges, a setting of 65 is recommended.
Note: Lower numbers move the media into the printer by the specified number of dots (the tear line moves closer to the edge of the label just printed). Higher numbers move the media out of the printer (the tear line moves closer to the leading edge of the next label).
Press the HOME button twice to save your settings.
4. Printer Feeds Out Blank Badges Before Printing a Badge
This is likely because the media type selection is wrong or the badges are facing the wrong direction.
If the media type is already set correctly, double-check that you loaded badges in the right orientation. The "FEED DIRECTION" indicator on the back of the badges should face down toward the table, and the arrows should point toward the front of the printer.
5. Print is Too Light
The darkness settings can be adjusted. Press HOME then navigate to DARKNESS menu.
Set the darkness to the lowest setting that provides good print quality. If you set the darkness too high, the label image may print unclearly, bar codes may not scan correctly, the ribbon may burn through, or the printhead may wear prematurely.
6. Print is Crooked
Ensure that your badge stock is aligned correctly. If roll stock is used, ensure the yellow guides aren't too tight against the badge. If fanfold stock is used, carefully align the stack of badges with the printer so they enter the printer as straight as possible.
7. Print is Too Close to One Edge
If the print is too close to one edge of the badge, you can adjust the position of the print to center it. This involves two settings: Label Top and Left Position.
Adjusting LABEL TOP settings:
Press HOME then navigate to LABEL TOP menu.
Adjust settings to shift the position of the image vertically on the label if necessary.
Note: Negative numbers move the image higher on the label (toward the printhead). Positive numbers move the image farther down on the label (away from the printhead) by the specified number of dots.
Adjusting LEFT POSITION settings:
Press HOME then navigate to LEFT POSITION menu.
Adjust settings to shift the position of the image horizontally on the label, if necessary.
Note: Negative numbers move the left edge of the image toward the left edge of the label by the number of dots selected. Positive numbers move the edge of the image toward the right edge of the label.