Label, Printer, Setup & Troubleshooting FAQs

These FAQs are extracts from our Support Library and intended for BarTender users only. If you are using different software or cannot find the solution you are looking for click here.

Terminology FAQs

Q. What are die-cut labels?
A. Die-cut labels, supplied on a roll, are self-adhesive labels which may be peeled off the backing paper individually, the gaps between them being detected by a sensor in the printer to maintain registration during lengthy print runs.

Q. What is continuous label?
A. This is label roll with a continuously printable surface which may be used to print labels of variable length, also enabling banners and signs to be produced.

Q. What is a horticultural label?
A. Horticultural labels are used to make plant tags and "stick-in" labels for plant pots. Behaving much like die-cut labels, they have punched holes instead of gaps, which the printer detects to maintain registration during lengthy print runs. In horticultural labels the punched holes have various purposes but one column is always configured as the sensor hole to be detected by the printer"s gap sensor.

Q. What are "Black Line" labels (sometimes called black mark labels)?
A. These labels have black lines printed on the underside of the backing paper. Black lines are necessary when the label is of a configuration which does not allow for a gap or punched hole. Black lines are detected by the printer"s Black Line sensor, the position of which may be adjusted by hand.

Q. What is a selvedge?
A. On many types of label the backing paper extends beyond the left and right edges of the label, this overlap being called the selvedge. Labelling software like BarTender factors this measurement (usually about 1.3mm) into the label template, its label setup wizard referring to the selvedge as "Left" and "Right" margins.
Selvedge is not usually important in printers which centralise the label under the print-head, but models in which the label path is aligned to the left on the platen require the selvedge to be factored into the label design. LabelStation models Pro 200, Pro 300 and Pro XL centralise the label so a small selvedge may be ignored, whereas models Pro 240 and Industrial align the label left so the selvedge should be factored into the template.
When printing on multi-column labels like plug top PAT labels, the effect of the selvedge on layout measurements must be considered carefully.

Q. What is the difference between Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer printing?
A. Both methods of printing use heat to imprint the label. Thermal Transfer works by melting the wax/resin coating on the ribbon to deposit an image on the label. Direct Thermal requires no ribbon because the label (usually paper) is coated with a film which darkens when heated.

Q. What is the difference between General Purpose ribbon and Industrial ribbon?
A. All ribbons comprise a plastic film coated with a wax/resin composition. General Purpose ribbon is biased towards wax while Industrial ribbon is biased towards resin. General Purpose ribbon prints readily on most surfaces but is not as durable as Industrial Ribbon. Industrial ribbon is scratch resistant and weather-proof but will not print on all surfaces.

Q. What is Tear Off?
A. When the Removal Method is set to "Tear-off" each label printed (or, if a continuous batch is being printed, the last label) is advanced slightly so that it may be torn off easily against the printer"s exit bar. With the Removal Method set to "None" the last label will probably come to a halt partly inside the printer.
In certain circumstances, such as when printing very small labels, "Tear-off" mode can cause misalignment and should be avoided.

Q. What is Peel Off?
A. When the Removal Method is set to "Peel-Off", die-cut labels can be separated more conveniently from the backing paper because each label is paused, after printing, with its corner lifted from the backing paper. A Peeler Module must be fitted for this.

Setup FAQs

Q. How do I fit a ribbon in my LabelStation Pro 200 / Pro 300?
A. Open the viewing window in the top of the printer. Also raise the upper half of the printer and secure it on the internal support arm. Your printer is supplied with two black plastic spindles. Push one of these inside the roll of ribbon then fit this assembly in the upper half of the printer so that it occupies the rear pair of hubs. Make sure the rimmed end of the spindle is on the right-hand side and the loose end of the ribbon feeds off the top of the roll towards the rear of the printer.
Now push the second black spindle inside the spare cardboard tube and fit this assembly in the upper half of the printer so that it occupies the front pair of hubs. Once again, make sure the rimmed end of the spindle is on the right-hand side.
Finally, pull the loose end of the ribbon (from the rear spool) down and through the printer so that it passes between the upper and lower halves of the machine, then attach it to the front cardboard tube. Finally, wind the front tube forward a few turns to pull the ribbon tight. Make sure the ribbon passes around the entire upper half of the printer, so that when you close the printer it is pressed against the label (or rubber platen roller if no label is fitted.

Q. How do I fit labels in my Pro 200 / Pro 300
A. Your printer is supplied with a label spindle plus two associated paddle-shaped guides. Push the spindle inside the roll of label, then flank the roll with the guides, and finally fit this assembly inside the lower half of the printer so that it occupies the accommodation space at the rear. Slots are provided to "hang" the label roll clear of obstacles. Make sure the label roll is centred on the spindle and that the printable side is facing upwards.
Now pull the loose end of the label towards the front of the printer, passing it underneath the white roller bar and between (and slightly beneath) the co-acting label guides. Adjust the co-acting guides carefully so that they just touch the edges of the label. Leave the loose end of the label roll resting on the rubber platen roller, slightly protruding from the printer, then close the machine.
NOTE: Horticultural labels and heat-shrink tube do not fit inside the printer. These must be "hung" on an external roll holder which attaches to the rear of the printer, allowing the labels to enter the machine via a slot.

Troubleshooting FAQs

Q. Why are my die-cut labels being printed across the gaps?
A. The first label to be printed is often out of register, but if subsequent labels continue to be printed across the gaps, especially if the printer produces no error message, then your label template is probably set to "Continuous" or "None" instead of "Gap".
A. If the printer is producing an error message, and especially if the label previews correctly on your PC yet is printing out of alignment (horizontally or vertically) then you may not have adjusted the co-acting label guides close to the edges of the label material.
A. Also check that you have not set the gap size to zero in the label template. The gap size is generally 3mm.
A. Try recalibrating the gap sensor.
A. If the labels are small, an offset does not necessarily indicate a fault. Small distance discrepancies between software and printer can be cancelled out using the offset controls in the labelling software. In BarTender, these controls are "Gap Offset", "Feed Offset", "Horizontal Offset" and "Vertical Offset". Feed Offset is the least likely to need adjusting in this situation. This is used with the "Tear-Off" setting to adjust the point at which a label comes to rest when printed.

Q. Why does my label preview correctly but print too small or too big?
A. You might be using the wrong driver for your model of printer. E.g. you are using a 200 dpi printer with a 300 dpi driver or vice versa.

Q. Why does my label preview correctly but print the layout wrongly?
A. Maybe font substitution is taking place. Two types of font are available to the label designer - printer fonts and Windows fonts. When a printer font is chosen, while you are designing the template, font substitution matches this font to a Windows font of similar appearance on the screen. In some cases, this results in a preview which differs from the printed label. Conversely, at print time, BarTender will notice if you have used a Windows font and suggest a similar Printer font (because printer fonts transfer faster) but, again, this can alter the template layout slightly. At print time, specify "Don"t allow font substitution".

Q. Why is the green "Ready" light not illuminating on my desk-top LabelStation?
A. Check that the printer is not out of ribbon or label stock. A LabelStation can go off-line if no labels are present, or if the ribbon has expired. However, it is okay to have no ribbon fitted if you are printing in Direct Thermal mode.
A. If using die-cut labels, check there are no labels missing off the label roll. If labels are missing, make sure they have not lodged inside the printer.
A. If the light is not shining in any colour at all, check the power adaptor, all leads and connectors, and mains plug fuse.

Q. My printer continues to show error condition even though the problem that caused it has been fixed. How do I clear this?
A. Press the Feed button. This may clear the fault and resume printing.
A. If the above fails, initialise the printer. For Pro 200/Pro 300 & CN models, switch the printer off for a few seconds. For Industrial and Pro XL models, do likewise or use the LCD and keypad. Refer to the user manual.

Q. Why does my printer go to error state before starting to print?
A. If you are printing in Thermal Transfer mode, make sure you have fitted the ribbon correctly.
A. If you have just fitted a new ribbon, make sure you have advanced the leader foil sufficiently to clear the ribbon sensor. To do this, use the Feed button or rotate the spent ribbon rewind spindle (front spindle) by hand until the silver foil is no longer visible.
A. If you are using colour ribbon you might need to recalibrate the sensors.

Q. Why does my desk-top LabelStation go to error state or slow down then stop during printing?
A. You might not be using the correct power adaptor. The printer must be used with a LabelStation adaptor.
A. If the adaptor is of the correct type and working, similar sluggishness can be caused by a ribbon roll rubbing against the lid when closed. Make sure the ribbon spindles are orientated with the rims (flanges) on the right-hand side.

Q. Why does an error condition arise after printing one label, sometimes after only part of a label?
A. You might have entered your dimensions in the wrong units. E.g. you have measured the label in inches but the software is set to millimetres, or vice versa.
A. Maybe you have set your template "Post Print Action" to 'Cut' when there is no cutter fitted to the printer, or you have your template set to "Peel-off" when there is no Peeler unit fitted.
A. The "Gap" sensor may have failed. To check this possibility, recalibrate this sensor (see the manual). A failed sensor makes the printer calibrate as if loaded with continuous label, which causes an unusually large number of labels to feed out before stopping, yet still with a green light. To cross-check this diagnosis, print some die-cut labels with "Sensor Type" set to "None" instead of "Gap". If the labels print without stalling the printer (ignore any misalignment in the print-out) then either the sensor has failed or the lens needs cleaning.
A. In the case of bench-top models (larger machines incorporating keypad and LCD display) you can test the Gap Sensor in real-time by doing as follows:
1. Open the printer andleave the print-head carriage closed so that the display reads 'Ready'.
2. Using the "Left", "Right", and "Select" keys on the keypad,work through the menuas follows:
3. Menu > Setup > Sensor > Calibration > Gap Mode > Manual.
4.At this point you will see 'Paper Len.' with a number against it. Ignore this and open the print-head carriage.
5. Press "Select" and you will see 'Gap Size'
6. Press "Select" again and theprinter will ask you to'Scan Backing Intensity'. This is asking youto pulllabelsthrough the printer by hand. As the labels pass the sensor you should see the'Ref. Level'number changing as the sensor reads thedensity difference betweenthe label andthe backing paper. If this number remains static then the sensor is not working.
7. When finished, press the "Menu" key repeatedly until backat 'Ready'.
To arrange an uplift of the printer for inspection by Advanced Labelling, call 01202 683212 or email support@labelzone.co.uk.

Q. Why does my printer produce one correct label followed by blanks then stall in error state?
A. You may have set your label template to 'Gap' for labels that are of the 'Black Line' type or vice versa.

Q. Why does my desk-top LabelStation have a permanently illuminated red light from the moment I switch it on?
A. The Head Up (lid) sensor switch might have failed. To test this possibility use the Diagnostic Tool to override the sensor. The Diagnostic Tool is located in the Utilities folder of the CD that came with your printer and can be run by double-clicking it. With the Diagnostic Tool running, do as follows:
1. Set 'Interface' to 'USB' or "Ethernet" as appropriate. For Ethernet connection you will have to click 'Discover Device'
2. Click 'Read' to establish a connection with the printer.
c. Set "Head-up Sensor" to "OFF" then click "Set".
d. Close the Diagnostic Tool and re-test the printer.
If the printer now works it means either that the 'Head-Up' sensor has failed or the plastic stud which operates it is has broken off. Contact Advanced Labelling to arrange repair.

Q. I am having strange problems with my LabelStation and have checked everything. Why does the error state keep returning?
A. Your printer probably needs a Reset. Consult the user manual.
A. Your printer might need a full Factory Reset. Consult the Diagnostic Tool instructions on the CD that came with your printer.
A. The firmware in your printer may be corrupted. To arrange an uplift of the printer for inspection by Advanced Labelling, call 01202 683212 or email support@labelzone.co.uk.

Q. My printer produces one correct label followed by blank space then stalls in error condition. How can I correct this?
A. You might be printing on continuous label-stock with your template set to 'Gap' or 'Black Line'.

Q. Why does my printer produce one good label, then blanks, then stall in error state, even when only one label is to be printed?
A. Perhaps the labels are not passing under the Gap Sensor. Check the label strip is not merely resting on top of the guides, and that the guides are adjusted closely to the label edges.
A. The Gap Sensor lens could be contaminated. Try cleaning the sensor with a cotton bud dipped in IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol).
A. The Gap Sensor might have failed. To check this possibility, print some die-cut labels with "Sensor Type" set to "None" instead of "Gap". If labels print without stalling the printer (ignore any misalignment in the print-out) then either the sensor has failed or the lens needs cleaning. If you have a bench-top model, which incorporates a keypad and display, you can test the Gap Sensor in real-time by doing as follows:
1. Open the printer andleave the print-head carriage closed so that the display reads 'Ready'.
2. Using the "Left", "Right", and "Select" keys on the keypad,work through the menuas follows:
3. Menu > Setup > Sensor > Calibration > Gap Mode > Manual.
4. At this point you will see 'Paper Len.' with a number against it. Ignore this and open the print-head carriage.
5. Press "Select" and you will see 'Gap Size'
6. Press "Select" again and theprinter will ask you to'Scan Backing Intensity'. This is asking youto pulllabelsthrough the printer by hand. As the labels pass the sensor you should see the'Ref. Level'number changing as the sensor is reads thedensity difference betweenthe label andthe backing paper. If this number remains static then the sensor is not working.
7. When finished, press the "Menu" key repeatedly until backat 'Ready'.

To arrange an uplift of the printer for inspection by Advanced Labelling, call 01202 683212 or email support@labelzone.co.uk.

Q. When printing on continuous label, why does my printer go to error condition before printing anything?
A. Even when printing on continuous label the Gap Sensor needs to be within calibration. Try recalibrating the Gap sensor using the Diagnostic Tool. The Diagnostic Tool (along with instructions) can be found on the CD that came with your printer. If necessary you can recalibrate your printer independently of the PC. Consult the manual.

Q. Why does the ribbon motor on my Pro 200 (same applies to Pro 300) strain to turn, causing the printer to stall in error state?
A. Press the "Feed" button on the printer. If this produces an error state then run the Diagnostic Tool and click the "Get Status" button. If this returns the message: "Ribbon Encoder Err." then try clicking the "Factory Default" button to clear the problem. If this fails, clean the ribbon sensor lens with a cotton bud dipped in IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol).

Q. Why does my LabelStation produce the "Out of Paper" message even with a correctly fitted label?
A. If the printer is a Pro 240, Industrial or Pro XL printing multi-column labels of a type which have perforated separation lines (e.g. horticultural tags with vertical tear-off lines) this error message can occur if the gap sensor is positioned directly above the perforations. Generally this causes no problem but sometimes the perforations leak enough light to activate the optical sensor. When setting up the printer for such labels, align the sensor slightly offset from the line of perforations.
A. When designing a horticultural label template, make sure the "Gap Size" is set to slightly less than the diameter of the punched hole (10mm is usually about right) rather than greatly less. Otherwise, if the label comes to a halt with a punched hole under the sensor, the printer might think there is no label fitted.

Q. Why does my printer go through the motions of printing (I can even hear the print head buzzing) but nothing is printed?
A. Check that the ribbon is loaded correctly (waxy side facing down).

Q. Alternate labels are coming out blank. How can I correct this?
A. Make sure the label height set in your template corresponds to the physical height of the label. Likewise, make sure the vertical gap corresponds correctly. If in doubt about the exact measurement, enter a slightly lower figure.

Q. Why is my printer producing occasional blank labels when I print die-cuts?
A. Check the calibration of the gap sensor, especially if you have just changed the label roll.
A. Try reducing the gap size setting in the label template by 1mm.
A. Check that the labels are not physically damaged or flawed.
A. Check that no labels are missing from the roll. Look for detached labels inside the printer.
A. If the blanks are random, a marginal setting in the template could be causing the trouble. In other words, if the label height you have entered in the template is exactly equal to the physical height of the label, likewise the vertical gap setting, then it takes only a tiny variation from one label to the next to cause skipping. When designing a template it is best to round numbers downwards to the nearest millimetre. For example, if the gap measures 3mm then enter 2mm in the template.
A. Maybe your label stock is of the Black Line type but the template is set to "Gap" or vice versa.

Q. Why does my printer produce one correct label followed by blanks then stall in error?
A. For die-cut labels, make sure the label template is set to "Gap" or "Black Mark" as appropriate.

Q. Not all the objects on my label are printing even though they appear on screen. What"s happening?
A. A text box left forgotten in a corner of the screen during development of a label can cause the label to print blank. Select any object on the label then use the Tab key on your keyboard to rotate through all the other objects. You might be surprised by what you find!
A. Make sure no object on the label has a boundary box (when selected) that overlaps the boundary of the label.

Q. Why is the right-hand side of a character in a text box cut off?
A. If you have recently adjusted the value in X-axis (horizontal) offset to overcome an alignment problem then exaggerating the width of the label in Page Setup might help. E.g. if the label is 50mm wide then set the label width in the template to 55mm.

Q. Why does my very long label (banner) only print partially or cause errors?
A. The maximum length of a banner is as follows:
Pro 200: nominally 2000 mm. (exact value depends on labelling software in use)
Pro 300: nominally 1000 mm. (exact value depends on labelling software in use)

Q. Why does my printer lay down the first row of pixels then stall in error?
A. The print-head connector might be loose. Contact Advanced Labelling for assistance.

Q. Why is a vertical black line printed through all my labels?
A. This is caused by either a faulty print head or a faulty PCB. Return the printer for repair.

Q. I am using an Industrial (also applies to Pro XL) LabelStation. Why are there gaps in the print which look like dead pixels?
A. Industrial and Pro XL printers can print with what appear (wrongly) to be dead pixels. If the location of the pixels shifts with different print density settings then try printing at a slower speed.

Q. Why do my labels have a line of missing print running horizontally through them?
A. If you are using an electric cutter, try reducing the print darkness (temperature).

Q. Why are my labels patchy with faded print or random streaks of unprinted area?
A. Random streaks: Print density (temperature) is set too high. Ribbon expands under the print-head and forms creases. Decrease the print density setting or increase the print speed.
A. Faint fabric appearance: Print density (temperature) is set too low. Increase the print density or reduce the print speed.
A. "Orange peel" or ripples: Decrease print density substantially or increase print speed.
A. All of the above, Industrial or XL LabelStations only: Increase/decrease the print-head pressure.

Q. Why are 300 micron horticultural labels printing faint on one side using my Pro 240 (also applies to the Industrial model)?
A. Try increasing the print-head pressure (both screws equally at first) to about 4. Note that 300 micron stick-in labels can be wider than the print-head and so must be inserted in the printer with the non-printable portion on right-hand side.

Q. Why are my labels generally poor now that I have started a new roll?
A. Check that your labels (and ribbon) are not past their shelf life or of poor quality generic origin.
A. Check that your ribbon and label stock are compatible.
A. Make sure your label roll was not contaminated during handling. Likewise your ribbon roll.

Q. Why have my labels gradually become poor?
A. The print-head possibly needs cleaning. This should be done with IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol). Apply sparingly with a soft, lint free cloth or untreated (balm free) tissue paper. Don"t use abrasive materials or aggressive techniques.
A. Check that you are using a LabelStation mains adaptor. If the adaptor is underpowered the printer may continue to work but produce faint print.

Q. Why are my labels not printing since changing the ribbon?
A. Maybe you have fitted the ribbon upside-down. The shiny side of the ribbon should be facing upwards at the point where it passes under the print-head.

Q. Why are my labels printing with one side good and the other faint and patchy?
A. Pro 200/Pro 300: One of the catches which locks down the print head (main lid) is broken.
A. The print-head pressure spring is broken or dislocated. Remove ribbon and inspect.
A. There might be a contaminant stuck to the white plastic roller that is located beneath the rubber platen roller (drive roller). Remnants of label stuck to the white roller can tilt the platen roller.
A. Pro 240, Industrial & ProXL: The print-head pressure springs might need adjusting or equalising. Refer to the appropriate manual.
A. In any model, this problem can be caused by a worn out print-head.

Q. Why are my labels printing with diagonal streaks across them where the ribbon is creasing?
A. You have not aligned the front ribbon spool with the rear ribbon spool. If the ribbon spools are misaligned, the ribbon is forced to travel sideways under the print-head.
A. If you have streaks (missing print) biased towards the leading edge of the label, you may have the label template set to Cut while the printer has no cutter. Newer machines do not go to error state when there is no cutter fitted but do still retract the label, this reversal of direction causing creases to form in the ribbon. This effect has been observed in an Industrial model.

Q. I am using a Pro 300 and my barcode printed blotchy after I rotated it 90 degrees. Why?
A. Try using a very low print density (aka: temperature, aka darkness) with a faster print speed

Q. I am using General Purpose ribbon on a LabelStation Industrial and it creases while printing, causing short streaks. Why is this?
A. If this cannot be overcome by changing the print temperature and speed settings, and/or head pressure settings, try printing with wax/resin ribbon type: 92-BLK-PR443A.

Q. Why does my reversed print area (white font on black background) not appear as it should?
A. You are probably using a printer font. Printer fonts cannot be inversed. For white-on-black printing use a Windows font or, if the entire label is to be inversed, use appropriately coloured label and ribbon.