Troubleshooting Common Barcode Label Printing Issues 

Barcode label printing is a quintessential part of the modern business landscape, facilitating efficient inventory management and effective tracking of goods. However, ensuring the optimal performance of barcode printers can often present challenges. We are here to discuss some of the most common barcode printer issues and offer practical solutions to overcome them, thus helping you maintain an efficient barcode printing system.

Understanding Barcode Printing

Before we delve into the troubleshooting process, it’s crucial to understand the basics of barcode printing. Barcode labels are printed using either Direct Thermal (DT) or Thermal  Transfer (TT) techniques. DT prints barcodes by directly applying heat to a thermally sensitive material, while TT uses heat to melt a wax or resin-based ink onto the label. The method depends on the application and durability requirements.

Common Barcode Printing Issues and Solutions Poor Print Quality

Barcode Printing Issues

One of the most common complaints in label printing is poor print quality, which can manifest as  faint, faded, or missing prints.

Potential Causes

  • Incorrect darkness setting for the material used
  • Uneven or insufficient printhead pressure
  • High print speed for the material used
  • Dirty print head or drive roller
  • Defective printhead
  • Damaged or pitted drive roller
  • Defective, old, dirty, or pitted label material
  • Ribbon loaded backward (for TT)


  • Increase your printer’s heat setting (printhead energy), but bear in mind that excessive  heat can cause print smearing and accelerate printhead wear.
  • Adjust the printhead pressure.
  • Slow down the print speed.
  • Clean the printhead and drive roller.
  • Replace the defective printhead.
  • Repair or replace the drive roller.
  • Replace the material.
  • Ensure the ribbon is loaded correctly.

Underburn and Overburn

Underburn and Overburn 

Underburn occurs when the dark bars of your barcode are printed too lightly. On the other hand, overburn results when heat settings are too high, causing the bars to appear too thick.

Potential Causes

  • Incorrect heat settings


  • For underburn, increase the heat settings until you achieve the proper contrast.
  • For overburn, reduce the heat settings.

Vertical and Horizontal Lines

Vertical and horizontal lines on your barcode labels could indicate potential issues with your printhead.

Potential Causes

  • Clogged or damaged printhead (vertical lines)
  • Ribbon creases or folds, excessive printhead pressure (horizontal lines)


  • Clean or replace the printhead.
  • Use a thicker ribbon (for horizontal lines)

Dead Spots or Voids in The Image

Dead Spots or Voids in The Image 

Dead spots or voids in the image can be indicative of a dirty printhead, a wrinkled ribbon, or a printhead with burned-out elements.

Potential Causes

  • Clogged printhead
  • Printhead with burned-out elements
  • Wrinkled ribbon


  • Regularly clean the printhead.
  • Replace the printhead if it has burned-out elements.
  • Adjust the tension in your ribbon and reduce printer speed if the ribbon always wrinkles.

Poor Edge Definition

Poor edge definition can result in barcode readers being unable to correctly distinguish between bars and spaces.

Potential Causes

  • Low-quality labels
  • Vertical orientations in printing
  • Incompatible ribbon and media


  • Use high-quality labels.
  • If possible, use horizontal printing.
  • Choose compatible ribbons and media.

Misalignment and Skewing Issues


Misalignment and skewing in barcode labels can result in scanning failures or inaccuracies. This issue occurs when labels are not properly aligned within the printer, leading to skewed or off-center barcodes.

Potential Causes

  • Improper label loading.
  • Misaligned sensor.
  • Printer mechanical issues.


  • Ensure proper alignment when loading labels.
  • Adjust the media sensor for correct detection.
  • Service the printer if mechanical problems are suspected.

Expert Support and Maintenance

Regular maintenance of your barcode printer is critical to ensuring its optimal performance. This includes regular cleaning, timely replacement of faulty parts, use of quality materials, and proper UPC label printing. Having a professional barcode solutions provider can be invaluable in this regard. They can offer specialized support, provide efficient barcode system solutions, and help choose suitable barcode label printers for your business needs.

Effective Label Storage Practices


Proper storage of label materials is vital to maintain their quality and ensure optimal printing results. Labels exposed to adverse conditions can lead to various printing issues. Store labels in a cool, dry environment, away from direct sunlight and moisture.

This prevents them from curling, fading, or becoming sticky, which can affect print quality and barcode readability. Additionally, labels are within their shelf life to avoid issues related to aged materials.

Software and Firmware Updates

Keeping your barcode printer’s software and firmware up-to-date is crucial. Manufacturers often release updates that enhance printer functionality, fix bugs, and improve compatibility with different printing materials and technologies.

Regularly check for software updates and apply them promptly. This not only ensures the printer operates efficiently but also helps prevent compatibility issues with newer types of labels or printing techniques.

Network and Connectivity Maintenance


Network and Connectivity Maintenance plays a pivotal role in ensuring the seamless operation of modern barcode printing systems, especially in environments where printers are integrated into larger networks or operated remotely. Regular checks of network connections and Wi-Fi stability are crucial to avoid disruptions in printing operations.

This involves ensuring that network cables are in good condition, Wi-Fi signals are strong and stable, and the printer’s network settings are correctly configured. Additionally, in the case of networked or wireless printers, it’s essential to secure them within your network to prevent unauthorized access.

Regular firmware updates can also enhance network compatibility and security. By maintaining robust network and connectivity standards, businesses can guarantee consistent communication between their barcode printers and other devices, ensuring efficient and uninterrupted printing workflows.


By understanding the common issues and their causes, you can take preventive measures to maintain the optimal performance of your barcode printer. Implementing the suggested solutions will help you avoid these problems and ensure consistent, high-quality barcode labels. Don’t let printing issues disrupt your workflow – take action today and keep your barcode label printer operating smoothly and efficiently.

Remember, an efficient barcode printing system is not a luxury but a necessity in today’s fast-paced business world. Regular maintenance, understanding the common issues, and knowing how to troubleshoot them are all integral to ensuring your barcode system operates at its best,  providing seamless business operations.