Your Guide to Zebra Printer Troubleshooting

By: Marco
August 26, 2022

Zebra printers have a solid reputation for reliability even in harsh conditions. But even printers known for their reliability need a little TLC now and then. Printers have a difficult job and aren’t always given the same respect and care as other smart devices.

If your Zebra label printer isn’t performing like it used to, your first step is to see whether you can resolve the issue yourself or if it needs professional repair. Fortunately, Zebra has a simple test — a pause test — that can either help you avoid the cost of a professional repair or get a technician on the road sooner.

How To Run a Pause Test on Zebra Label Printers

Is your printer producing faded-looking labels, not printing the full label, or producing labels with black or white lines through them? Depending on what’s wrong, you may be able to solve the problem yourself.

Here’s how to perform a basic pause test:

  1. Turn the printer off
  2. Hold down the pause button while turning the printer back on
  3. Keep the pause button pressed until you see the lights flash
  4. Release the pause button
If your labels are now being printed perfectly, you’re good to go. If the labels are still faded or have white lines running through them, your next step is to try cleaning your printer.

How To Clean Zebra Barcode Printers

Adhesive residue and dust are common causes of poor performance. Clean your printhead, sensors, and rollers with 99.7% isopropyl alcohol. Then check the roller under the printhead to make sure it’s in good condition. If you see cuts, it will need to be replaced.

Pro tip: make sure your staff keeps the cover down when they’re using a Zebra label printer. The cover is designed to help keep it clean longer.

Additional Fixes for Poor Print Quality

If your images are printing too light, try slowing down your print speed. If your labels still look faded, try boosting the heat or darkness setting. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re using the right ribbon for your label materials, and that your labels are loaded correctly.

Fixes for Label Skipping

If you notice paper or ribbon out errors, or if your printer is routinely skipping labels, make sure your ribbon and labels are feeding correctly. If they are, hit pause and select calibrate. If you don’t see this option, you can find calibration instructions for your model on Zebra’s website.

Your printer will then recalibrate its sensors and run through a few labels. If it stops printing precisely at the peel edge, the calibration was successful. If a label is sticking halfway out or you get an error message, try cleaning the sensors. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to call a pro.

Fixes If Your Settings Won’t Save

This issue can be caused by your labeling software or a print driver. Check your label properties in your software to make sure they’re set correctly. You can also try navigating to your printer settings in your driver, and then selecting “advanced setup” and “use printer settings.” This setting should stop your software or driver from reverting to earlier settings.

How To Keep Your Zebra Printers Running Like New

Printers are often the cause of workplace frustration, but they really aren’t out to ruin your life. In many ways, they are expected to do more than a laptop but are rarely given the maintenance and care they need. When they aren’t maintained on a proper schedule, you’re going to see more disruptions and issues with print quality.

If you have Managed Print Services (MPS) for your other workplace printers, you likely already know how much a little maintenance can do to head off problems before they happen. MPS provides a large number of additional benefits for businesses, but if your current provider doesn’t include your industrial printers, it might be time to shop around.

How Marco’s Managed Print Services Offer More

One of many reasons we love Zebra printers is that their current lineup is designed to integrate with more systems and can be easily managed remotely by the right provider.

At Marco, we can provide MPS on every printer, regardless of its manufacturer, and we also include print security as part of our regular offering. Our print software is top-of-the-line, so we know when something’s about to happen before it causes a disruption, and can send a technician out to address it quickly. Finally, as a Premier Zebra Business Partner, we know Zebra’s product line inside and out so we can always provide best-in-class support.

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