Archive for September, 2021

How to Print LTO Labels on an Epson SureColor P10000

(AKA “How to gum up the inside of your $7000 printer with labels”)

NOTE: This is how I print LTO labels, provided to you for informational use. I am not responsible if you have a label come off inside your printer or for any other damage following this procedure may cause – you perform these steps at your own risk!

If you have an LTO tape library or autoloader with a media robot, you know that you need to label all of your LTO tapes with a unique barcode which both identifies the tape and tells the library what generation of media it is. You can purchase pre-printed labels such as the HP Q2013A which contains 110 labels with a random starting sequence number (you might get WZT653 through WZT752), for the incredibly low price (hah!) of only $92 (list price, street price is between $52 and $100). If you want a custom start sequence on your labels, you will find out that they are VERY expensive – once you find a web site that sells them, you’ll likely end up with a “Request for a Quote” button, and like they say “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”.

Fortunately there is a very inexpensive solution to this problem. You will need 3 things:

  • OL173WX labels in “Standard White Matte” from https://www.onlinelabels.com – if you buy the 250 sheet package for $39.87, you’ll get 8000 labels (32 per sheet) which should last you a lifetime, and still costs less than half of what a package of 100 preprinted HP labels costs.
  • Free LTO label generating utility at https://tapelabel.de.
  • An Epson SureColor P10000 printer (or any other printer that exhibits the problem described below).

Using the free LTO label generating utility, create a sheet of labels with your desired settings. I use Library Type: IBM, Tape Type: LTO6, Label Type: OL173, Color Scheme: full colors. I specify the 3-character alphabetic prefix I want and the starting sequence number (usually 0 for the first set of labels). Leave all of the other options at their defaults. Cick the “Generate my labels” button and open the PDF file it generates. Make sure it looks like the labels you were expecting. Be sure to check the “fine print” – the small “L6” (or whatever generation you are using) on the right side of the label.

Now, if you go and print these on your P10000, you’ll get wonderful-looking labels, EXCEPT that the barcode is cut off on the bottom of the page. The P10000 doesn’t want to print close to the trailing edge of a sheet of paper, and just discards the remaining part of the image without telling you. You need a trick or two:

  • Get a sheet of 8.5 x 11 plain paper and make a mark exactly 3″ from the long end.
  • Line up the 2 sheets of paper (OL173 label and plain) with the plain paper on the BACK of the OL173, so the plain sheet sticks out 3″ (use the mark from the first step) beyond the OL173.
  • Use a a small piece of Scotch tape (maybe 2″ long) to tape the two sheets together where they overlap on the back. Put the tape in the center of the overlap after making sure the two sheets are aligned. DON’T overdo the tape – one piece, just enough to hold the sheets together without skewing.
  • Load the paper into the printer with the OL173 face up and the blank sheet at the trailing edge (in other words, labels first). Have the printer load the paper as “Cut sheet / Plain paper”.
  • Go to the Adobe Acrobat Print dialog and select the P10000. Click on Properties to open the print driver menu. Make sure Media Type is set to Plain Paper, Color is set to Color, and Print Quality is set to speed (any of the higher-quality modes put too much ink on the paper, causing the labels to wrinkle). Make sure Paper Source is set to Sheet. For Size, select “User Defined” and then click on the “User Defined…” button and select Paper Width of 8.5″ and a Paper Height of 14″. Click OK to exit that menu and OK again to exit the printer menu.
  • Back in Acrobat’s print dialog box, make sure you have the “Actual size” button selected. Set the Orientation button to Portrait. The print preview window should show you “Document: 8.5 x 11.0in” and “8.5 x 14.0 Inches” for the paper size. The labels should be up at the top of the preview box, not centered.
  • Click “Print”. The printer should begin printing the labels from the top edge and work its way down to the bottom edge of the label sheet, correctly printing all 32 labels. It should not print anything on the plain paper. When the printer asks you to eject the paper, press the OK button and remove the printed page from the printer. Check the print for proper alignment on the labels – there shouldn’t be any bleed from the bottom of one label’s barcode to the color boxes on the next label. Bleeding downward generally indicates that you pushed the labels too far into the printer during the paper loading sequence. Left-to-right misalignment is a user error in not lining up the edge of the labels with the edge marker on the printer roll feed housing, but there is a fair amount of left / right tolerance on the labels. As long as the print isn’t off the edge of a label, you should be OK.

Remove the plain backing paper and tape from the finished labels and let the labels sit somewhere to dry out before stacking them. You can re-use the plain backing paper and its tape a few times, as long as the paper is not crinkled or torn and the tape still sticks down securely. When in doubt, replace the paper and tape – that is a lot cheaper than fishing bits of paper and tape out of the printer.

NOTE: I suppose it is possible for a label to come off and get stuck inside the printer (which could turn into a VERY expensive service call). However, the paper hold-down in this printer is mainly vacuum from the back side – as the printer is designed to print on expensive, delicate papers with fragile coatings, it does make an effort to not touch the front side of the paper.