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ZPL With The C7500

Recently, I had reason to practice printing ZPL to a C7500.

ZPL Datastream Printed With The C7500

Let me tell you more about to use this capability in the Epson C7500 printer.

Before I begin, you may be asking what is ZPL? Zebra Programming Language (ZPL) is the command language used by all ZPL compatible printers. It is a command-based language used by the printer as instructions for creating the images printed on the labels. Although I can’t find the history of ZPL, Zebra Technologies changed its name in 1982 to focus on thermal transfer printers; and was probably using a version of this language at that time: Sato claims to have invented thermal transfer technology with the launch in 1981: Before Windows, desktop printers used a print language. And many of Zebra’s competitors offer ZPL emulations or interpreters.

From my perspective, ZPL offers a few key benefits; primarily speed and legacy installed base. With ZPL, the application sends only the variable data to the printer; making time to first print very fast. By using a preprinted label or uploading a template, you can embed non-variable objects onto the label. In addition, developers have created applications for decades that use ZPL to print; and Zebra has sold millions of printers to customers who use these applications.

To print a Zebra ZPL print stream using the C7500, you have two options:

  • Use a Generic Text Driver
  • Use LPR from a command line

To use a Generic Text Driver, you need to add it to your system. I found the instructions here on how to add this driver:

Once added, you need to select it to replace the standard C7500 driver on the Advance Tab.

Generic Text Replacing C7500 Driver

Once the driver is installed, you need to change the resolution of the printer. For the ZPL print stream I had, I needed to change the Resolution in “Printer Setup 1” to 200 dpi. To make this change, go to Menu on the front panel, page down to select “Printer Setup 1”, page down to select “Resolution”, and then use the arrow keys to select 200 DPI. Be sure to remember to change this setting back to 600 dpi when finished as well as select C7500 on the Advanced tab in the Driver setting.

To print the ZPL stream, I then opened the ZPL code in Notepad:

ZPL Printstream in Notepad

And printed to the C7500 using the Generic Text Driver. Worked perfectly.

ZPL Printed Using The C7500

To print using LPR, I found this page seemingly straight forward on how to use this capability: (Full Disclosure: I never actually used this method to print). Experts with Linux should find these instructions easy to follow.

Actually, printing the ZPL is the easy part. I found the uploading and creating the correct image template much more difficult, but figured it out.

On page 98 of the C7500 Operators Manual, you’ll find the instructions on how to select a background image to print. Get the manual here:

C7500 Background Image Settings

One key aspect I missed was the last sentence in the initial paragraph: “This setting screen is not displayed if you started the Printer Setting Utility from the printer driver”. It took a call to Epson Advance Tech Support (562-276-1340) to figure out why I could not see the “Background Image Setting” option. Once I understood, I downloaded and installed the printer setting utility as a separate application. You can download this utility here:

Once installed as a separate application, I could select the “Use Shared Background Image”.

To create your background image, follow the instructions on page 99 of the C7500 Operators Manual:

How To Create Preset Image To Upload To A C7500

Key aspects are 1, must be a PNG format. And 2, you need to create the image using the correct X/Y settings based on the label media size you are printing. Once you have the correct image created, you can upload it following the instructions on page 98.

Upload Background Image To C7500

Once uploaded, the image prints in color whereas the ZPL code is printed black:

Color Image on ZPL Printed With The C7500

(FYI: I did not take the time to fix the image as the correct size or location. But it printed!)

Over the years, I had several individuals talk about the ZPL feature of the C7500. But I never had a company put this feature into operation until now. With legacy applications, the ability to print native ZPL is an interesting feature of the C7500; especially with the ability to upload images completely eliminating the need to purchase pre-printed labels.

If you are interested in using ZPL, contact us. We’ll help you get started printing quickly.

Posted at 4:30 PM
Guy Mikel

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