United Ad Label

Thermal Transfer Printing Problems & Solutions

What happens when the printer doesn’t work? Printer technology has advanced to the point where we expect perfect output after we push print. But sometimes the printout isn’t what we expect. So, before you try kicking the printer, or some other creative method to solve your problem, consider these steps instead!

Pro Tip - Properly matching the heat and speed settings to the media, as well as the media itself are the sources of most problems. The vast majority of printer problems will center around these areas.

Problem - The bars within the barcode expand or grow beyond their normal length

bar code error

Possible Causes and Solutions

Bar expansion is typically a print speed problem. Try reducing the speed one setting and then test a few labels to determine if that step resolves the problem. If not, adjust the setting one more level and try again. Another possible cause is the ribbon media. An old or inferior ribbon can cause bar expansion as well. Try changing the ribbon. For optimal printing anytime, make sure the ribbons are less than one year old.


Problem - Image is light or washed out creating an insufficient print contrast signal (PSC) and poor scanning read rates

bar code error

Possible Causes and Solutions

The darkness setting may be the cause for a light or washed out image. So, try increasing the printer heat setting. This problem is also associated with print speed. Try reducing the speed setting. Lastly, a light image is also caused when exposure to light causes it to fade. If so, using laminated or protected label stock will ensure that the image maintains its print quality. Pro Tip: Different substrates print differently. If you change out materials you may require more frequent printer adjustments to ensure the output is appropriate.


Problem - There are streaks or dead spots in the barcode

bar code error

Possible Causes and Solutions

A wrinkled or incorrectly installed ribbon will cause streaks and dead spots. The wrinkling may be from an inferior product or you may just need to increase the ribbon tension by tightening it.


Problem - Inconsistent image quality or images that contain pits and or voids

bar code error

Possible Causes and Solutions

A dirty or worn printhead is the most common cause of poor image quality. Clean the printhead and test the image quality. If this doesn’t work, replacing the printhead is the likely next step.


Problem - Poor edge definition

bar code error

Possible Causes and Solutions

Poor edge definition is almost always the result of a print speed that’s too fast. Slowing down a level or two should solve the problem.

 


Problem - Ghosting or faint replicas of printed images in undesirable places

bar code error

Possible Causes and Solutions

The image is picked up and transferred elsewhere on the substrate often because the printhead temperature is excessive. Try reducing the heat factor, one level at a time. Another solution is increasing the speed slightly.

 


Problem - Excessive noise occurs during printing

bar code error

Possible Causes and Solutions

A noisy printer can result from the printhead energy setting and the position of the strip plate. First, reduce the energy setting. If the noise persists, adjust the the strip plate into a lower position. Pro Tip: There are only two mechanical components that may cause print quality problems, the print head and the drive roller.

United Ad Label provides high quality thermal labels that make the printing and scanning process trouble free. Click here  to review our complete selection. 

 

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