We have a team here at Computype that specializes in barcode label printers, printer processes, and printer troubleshooting. They work with a variety of makes and models from multiple manufacturers giving them a solid knowledge-base of how a variety of printers perform in different environments and in comparison to one another. One of the many label printer series our team has worked with is the Zebra ZT series. As an authorized distributor of Zebra label printers, we actively promote and provide our customers with their equipment. We work with Zebra because after years of experience working with printers of all kinds, Zebra printers have consistently promised and delivered quality and high performance results that meet the needs of our customers. Let’s take an in depth look at the ZT series as a whole and the three subseries it’s comprised of. We’ll discuss the features, benefits, limitations, and cost of all three.
What is the Zebra ZT series?Zebra’s ZT series refers to their line of industrial printers. The “T” in ZT stands for tabletop, meaning compared to their desktop counterparts they are much larger and more robust. Though they are made with industrial environments in mind, these printers are extremely versatile and have proven useful in a diverse array of applications ranging from lab environments to manufacturing centers. Most notably the ZT series differs from smaller desktop models in its larger size and ability to accommodate much larger volume print jobs—if you’re looking for something more compact for smaller label batches check out the ZD Series. Within the ZT printer line are three sub-series: the ZT 200 series, the recently upgraded ZT 400 series and the ZT 600 series. All three are meant to serve facilities with different needs, so let’s take a look at each individually:
Zebra ZT 200 seriesThe ZT 200 Series models are the most basic models in the ZT series. With a 3-button, no-screen interface, standard dpi range and standard media capacity these printers keep it simple and serve as a great upgrade to a desktop solution if label printing volumes are on the rise. The only major difference between the ZT 210 and ZT 220 is the difference in ribbon capacity. With a 450m ribbon capacity, the ZT 220 requires less frequent refill stops than the 210.
Ideal for moderate volume print jobsIn comparison to smaller desktop models, this printer is prepared to handle significantly larger jobs and will serve as a great higher throughput upgrade from a desktop solution.
Simple design and featuresThe interface is simple and all the standard features are there. This might not sound like much of a compliment but, in this case the minimalistic interface provides a user friendly experience and the lack of extra features keeps the focus on printing barcodes and an easy-to-train and operate system.
Budget friendlyZebra is calling the printers in the ZT 200 series the ‘value models’. By keeping it simple they are able to offer all the most valuable features of an industrial printer at an economical price point.
Not for small scale printingWith the dpi options being 203 or 300 dpi this printer can provide clear crisp and scannable barcodes so long as they aren’t being printed at an extremely small scale. A great majority of print jobs look great at 203 or 300 dpi, but scanning issues can arise when extremely small barcodes need to be printed. Not intended for high volume print jobs Although it is an industrial printer and is intended for higher volume printing than its desktop counterparts, the ZT 200 series is limited in its printing capabilities. When it comes to higher volume label printing applications, these models are on the lower end of the throughput spectrum and would be best suited for moderate volume applications. These are not intended for 24/7 operation.
No screenAlthough the lack of a screen can be helpful when it comes to keeping things simple, a bright and colorful screen can allow for at-a-glance status updates from a distance. This is helpful when an operator might not be available to keep a close eye on the printer.
CostThe ZT 200 series is comprised of the industrial value models, due to their simplicity and economical price point. If your facility is looking for an easy to use upgrade to a desktop printer or a moderate volume solution without any complicated features, a ZT 200 series model might be suitable. The ZT 200 series starts around $980 (less than some desktop models) making it a budget friendly choice for any moderate volume application.
Zebra ZT 400 SeriesThe ZT 400 series is a long-time customer favorite, which is why Zebra decided to give it an upgrade. The familiar ZT 410 and 420 models are now the ZT 411 and 421. The 411 and 421 continue to offer high resolution, width and RFID options but with a new, easier to navigate touchscreen interface.
User friendly interfaceA colorful LCD touch display replaces the backlit screen and buttons on the previous ZT 400 series models for a more intuitive user experience and at-a-glance status recognition.
RFIDThe ZT 400 series is capable of encoding UHF RFID tags so you can get ahead in implementing a smarter label solution. Including RFID in your labeling solution can improve accuracy and efficiency by offering a faster scanning option and a back-up ID opportunity. Ideal for larger volume applications The 400 series is a great match for moderate to larger volume applications where they will be operating several hours each day. The high print speed options also let you print more in a limited span of time.
Wide printing capabilitiesThe main difference between the ZT 411 and the ZT 421 is the print width capacity. The ZT 421 is capable of print widths up to 6.6 inches! Most label applications don’t require widths larger than 4 inches which makes it difficult to find label printers capable of higher width capacities. For those who have more unique applications that require wider labels, the ZT 421 is a great fit.
High DPI will slow you downAlthough the option to purchase a 600 dpi model of the ZT 400 series (or 600 series) model is available, upgrading your print quality will lead to lower print speeds. Under most circumstances, this won’t be an issue since industrial printers aren’t often used to print at small scale. A 203 or 300 dpi model will suit most applications.
Can’t print 24/7The ZT 400 series is certainly intended for higher volume printing, however, it isn’t intended to print around the clock.
CostThe best part about the upgrades to the 400 series is that they didn’t drive up the cost. Zebra is offering these future-ready printers for the same economical price as their predecessors. You can expect to spend at least $1,700 on your ZT 400 series printer and a bit more for each additional feature or upgrade you choose.
Zebra ZT 600 seriesThe ZT 600 is a very high-powered printer for high volume printing applications. It’s customizable in many of the ways the 400 series is–with RFID capabilities and an extended width option–but it features a simpler interface and a more durable outer casing. This printer was built for harsh conditions and high demand making it ideal for fast-paced environments.
Ideal for 24/7 operationThe ZT 600 series features an extremely robust print engine suitable for around the clock operation. If your facility is struggling to find a printer capable of keeping up with your demand a 600 model is definitely worth checking out.
High speed printingThis printer was made with fast-paced environments in mind, so it only makes sense it would feature print speeds that can keep up with demand. However, we always recommend slowing down when you can to optimize the scannability of your barcodes and reduce printhead wear.
Super durableThe ZT 600 Series features a metal media covering to protect your media and inner mechanisms from damage. This is especially helpful in industrial environments where printers are prone to damage from dust and debris. A window on the side also allows for easy media monitoring even when the protective case is closed.
Best suited for applications where it will run constantlyVery robust print engines run best when they are used frequently, so if you don’t plan on taking full advantage of the extremely high throughput capabilities of this printer you should consider a model in the 200 or 400 series.
CostBeing the premium models in the ZT family they are priced for their performance. These are workhorses built to last through years of heavy use and the mechanics and engineering required to allow for this are valuable. Starting at $2,800, this piece of equipment should be considered a strategic investment. This printer is capable of handling extremely demanding situations, whether that be due to environmental conditions, constant operation or both. In environments where a printer of this caliber is necessary, you will find value.
ZT series applicationsJust like its desktop partner, the ZD, the ZT series is extremely versatile. We personally recommend it to our high production volume customers in every industry we work with, and many more industries find it useful as well. The combination of durability, versatility, and the ability to accommodate ranging volumes make this series a great match for high performing facilities in a range of environments from warehouses to hospitals. Here’s a list of printing applications we’ve seen customers utilize the ZT series printers to print labels on-demand for:
- Biological sample labels
- Blood bag labels
- Tire tread labels
- Dry cleaning tags
- Postage labels
- Warehouse inventory labels