Template Tuesday Presents...how your printer’s features, specifications, and settings can improve print alignment.
Printing Label Templates – Printer Specifications
It matters whether or not your printer was designed for printing self adhesive labels. This doesn’t mean that you need a “label printer” – i.e. a printer designed only for printing self adhesive labels. You simply need to know that self adhesive labels are ONE of the media types your printer can process.
Printers designed with self adhesive labels in mind will have specifications that suit the slightly different printing process required to print sheets of sticky labels compared to other print media – such as paper, card, envelopes, photograph paper etc.
you can find your printer’s specification in its manual or on the website of the manufacturer/supplier.
Printers designed to handle self adhesive labels and/or thicker print media will always produce higher quality print and alignment when printing label templates. Multifunction (e.g. “all-in-one”) and dedicated application printers (e.g. “photo printers”) that can only process paper or specific print media may not be able to print label templates accurately – if at all.
Ideally, you want a dedicated printer that lists self adhesive labels as a media type that it can print.
Printing Label Templates – Printer Special Features
Printers designed to print self adhesive labels will have various features that allow it to perform this particular function.
Perhaps the most important feature is the presence of a media bypass tray. This is a secondary tray that usually sits just above or below the main paper tray. The main paper tray is designed to handle standard sheets of paper. The media bypass tray is designed specifically to process thicker media – like self adhesive labels. It also offers a straighter path through the printer – by bypassing at least one set of rollers. This reduces the chances of sheets rotating as they are pulled through the printer.
To make the most of your media bypass tray, you should load your sheet labels carefully. First, fan them out to disperse any static build up. Next, tap them gently against a solid, level surface (like a desk) to make sure the sheets make a neat stack. Load them into the media bypass tray and make sure they are perfectly straight. Finally, position the tray guides firmly and levelly against the edges of your sheets. This helps to ensure that every sheet is drawn into the printer evenly, reducing the chances of your sheets rotating as they are printed.
Please note: you should also follow these steps even if your printers doesn’t have a media bypass tray!
Printing Label Templates – Print Settings
Finally, the print settings you choose also influence how well (or not) your designs align on your sticky labels.
First, make sure you don’t have any size or scaling options applied. Go into Printer Properties or Printing Preferences to check that:
- The Page Size is A4.
- No scaling options are selected (including a percentage less than 100% or “Fit To…” options, such as Fit To Sheet or Fit To Page).
- No options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Driver Settings”/“Use Default Settings” are selected.
Next, select an appropriate print setting for the media type you are printing. Some printers offer a specific “Labels” print setting. If your printer doesn’t offer this option, use the most suitable alternative – such as “Heavy Paper”.
In laser printers, these settings cause your printer to use more heat and run more slowly. This helps the toner to bond more effectively with your sticky labels and reduces the chances of sheet rotation and misalignment. Inkjet printers will also run differently to allow the inks to dry more efficiently in place.
Some printers will allow you to choose specific print settings for the print media AND the print weight/thickness, while others combine these settings together.
You may also have a print quality option, which determines the level of printer resolution. Generally, these settings have descriptive names, such as Fine, Best, Normal, Good, and Draft. Selecting a higher printer resolution will cause your printer to run more slowly, improving the accuracy of alignment you can achieve.
Next Week On Template Tuesday: How To? – How To Use Print Settings To Improve Print Quality & Alignment When Printing Label Templates