Monthly Archive: April 2016

Print Quality: What is DPI?

DPI has been mentioned in tens of our blog posts. I’ve nearly always highlighted it so you can click to see what the letters stand for. But telling you what the letters stand for is one thing, now it’s time to tell you what DPI means.

Pre-Print vs. Post-Print

Before we get onto the main subject, I want to first talk about the print quality from software to printer.

Thermal transfer and direct thermal printers can’t intentionally produce half colours. What I mean by this is if the ribbon is black and the label is white, the printer can’t produce grey.

Let’s look at some examples.

Here I’ve typed DPI in a curvy font. In each of the examples, I’ve highlighted an area of the letter P, which we’ll look closely at. The zoomed section is to the right of the letters.
In the software, everything looks okay on the screen. We zoom in and we can see greys and other colours filling in the edges to make the black arc look as smooth as possible at its original size.
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Silver on Silver – An Unusual Yet Satisfying Combination

There I was, sat at my desk writing up training information for my colleagues, going through the LabelStation supplies list, and I find the mirrored gold and silver ribbons. I thought to myself, “would they retain their gloss, mirror-like finish if they were printed onto a matt label”. This called for some testing.

I grabbed a silver ribbon and a roll of matt silver labels we had open in our sample cabinet, loaded them in a LabelStation and printed a label. I know what to expect when printing these ribbons onto a gloss vinyl, but I didn’t expect this quality on a matt finish.
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Teardown: LabelStation Pro200 / Pro300

This is the first of a series of teardowns I’m looking to document. These are both for educational purposes (such as doing repairs yourself) and also for entertainment as I for one find teardowns very interesting. Since a young age I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart to see how they work, and it seems I haven’t grown out of that.

Here we’ll look at what tools you’d need to take apart a LabelStation Pro200, how easy it is, and why you’d need to take it to pieces in the first place.

The Pro200 is more or less the same as the Pro300 and their network attached equivalents. I’ll point out any differences as I go along.

The tools you’d need and a couple I would recommend to take the printer apart and put it back together again:

  • Medium cross head screwdriver
  • Large cross head screwdriver
  • Medium flat head screwdriver
  • Small wire cutters
  • Long tweezers
  • Anti-static wrist strap and a ground source
  • Some small pots (to keep the screws in groups)

I’d like to make a recommendation that it’s only worth opening and attempting to repair any or all of this printer if you absolutely have to. Attempting to repair your printer yourself will void your warranty of it and we cannot accept any responsibility for injury, damage and/or loss of assets. Please proceed with caution.

Here’s a list of parts that are replaceable with their “how easy is it for a first timer” rating.

  • Roller (super easy)
  • Printhead (very very easy)
  • Cutter (moderate)
  • Peeler (moderate)
  • Main board (moderate to difficult)
  • Black mark sensor (difficult)
  • Label guide gap sensor (difficult)
  • Ribbon assembly (best leave it to us)

Don’t be put off of buying a printer by looking at the above list, we’re more than happy to do any and all repairs for you at a very reasonable price, but the likeliness of needing any replacements is very low as they are very low maintenance. The worst we see is one company who needs a new printhead and complete clean up every 6 months (the printer turns up fully coated inside and outside in a fine glass-like powder), and another company needs their cutter cleaning every 6 months or so because it’s gundged up with adhesive from printing and cutting continuous media all day every day.

The Teardown

The printer photographed below is used by myself and my colleagues in our office for testing and for samples. This exact one is not for sale.

tdlsp2c (1)
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2016 Zebra GC GK GX Compare

Features GC420d/t GK420d/t GX420d/t GX430t
Resolution 203 DPI 203 DPI 203 DPI 300 DPI
Max. print width 103mm / 4.09″ 103mm / 4.09″ 103mm / 4.09″ 103mm / 4.09″
Max. print length 990mm / 39″ 990mm / 39″ 990mm / 39″ 990mm / 39″
Max. print speed 102mm / 4″ per second 127mm / 5″ per second 152mm / 6″ per second 102mm / 4″ per second
Label sensors Gap & black line Gap & black line Gap & black line Gap & black line
OS compatibility Win 7, 8.1 & 10 Win 7, 8.1 & 10 Win 7, 8.1 & 10 Win 7, 8.1 & 10
Print methods Direct & transfer Direct & transfer Direct & transfer Thermal transfer
Other options Peeler Peeler Peeler or cutter Peeler or cutter
Connectivity USB & Parallel USB & Parallel USB & Parallel USB & Parallel
Network built-in No Optional Optional Optional

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LabelStation BarTender Video Tutorial of the Month

This month’s most popular video tutorial for BarTender users shows how to overcome the problems of small variable text values not being centred in the middle of the design and large variable text values overflowing outside the design.

Click here to play the video

  1. Double click on the textbox border to open its properties
  2. Click “Position”
  3. Change the “Object Reference Point” to “Centre”
  4. Under “Data Sources” open the “Transforms” tab
  5. Click the “Number of Characters” button
  6. Tick the “Require minimum number of characters” checkbox
  7. Tick the “Limit maximum number of characters” checkbox
  8. Enter the maximum number of characters and click “OK”
  9. Click “Close” to close the properties
  10. Centre the textbox in the middle of the label template
  11. You will now be warned if the variable data entered exceeds the maximum character limit.

Click here for more LabelStation BarTender videos.