Star Micronics TSP650 printer

One of the more popular type of posts on this blog, I note by my stats, are those dealing with the practical use of printers.

So, let it be known that today I completed the manual and installation of a new printer at our primary Circulation workstation.

We’d been using a Star SP542 dot-matrix receipt printer, as at the time we needed to get one, we were hoping to eventually get permission to print money receipts for fines (instead of expensive 19th century receipt books).  State auditors insist on sequentially-numbered receipts (it’s a rule, period, no debate permitted, so no use telling me reasons not to do it).  Thermal printing doesn’t hold up over time, so we needed receipts that would last if we did them for fines, etc.

Frankly, we’ve found the dot matrix to have cleaning problems — lots of cut paper scraps get into the works, and you have to remove the ribbon, then remove a plate and vacuum it out weekly to keep it from jamming up.

Anyway, since the money receipt printing has fallen through (don’t ask), we don’t need long-term printing.  We switched to a Star TSP650 (aka 654 the cutter model) printer, which uses only thermal paper, no ribbon.

The manual is at http://libcat.uafortsmith.edu/screens/man_starTSP650printer.html and it covers the setup for use with Millennium Circulation.

Now, the printer driver either lets you do very short slips with no graphics, or — as we selected — 200mm long slips with a big logo at the top, that are actually easier for everyone to handle.  Also, if somebody sticks them in the book pocket, it makes them easy to fish out.

Using 8 point font for legibility means the last digit of the year is cut off on each line.  A smaller font becomes too hard to read.  The actual date is printed in full at the top just under the logo, anyway, so the year should be obvious.

Since it doesn’t completely cut (“partial cut” meaning one little bit in the middle is left, so one tug will free it), the paper doesn’t leave little scraps, which should avoid a lot of cleaning problems.  No ribbon.

The “receipt” selection (instead of 200mm length) just runs out paper forever, until you turn it off.  Since the 200mm works well for us, we’ll stick with that for the time being.

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Zebra TLP2844 printer manual is up

The manual for our new Zebra TLP2844 thermal transfer printer is up.

We needed a one-up label printer for our serials, that could also print the routing list as part of the process.

The TLP2844 is a thermal transfer printer, which means that instead of using thermally -sensitive labels (which fade over a short time, we’ve found to our dismay), the TLP2844 uses a thermal process to tranfer ink from a ribbon to the plain label. This should last for years.

For books, you can get spine/pocket label combinations, and those can be printed with a more durable resin ribbon.

For the serials, however, I went a little cheaper and got paper labels, and printed on them with a wax ribbon directly from the Innovative Interfaces Millennium Serials module. The setup info for all that is on the manual page. These will work for in-house circulation until we bind the serial.

Unfortunately, MilSer does not recognize the particular size of label (3×2) we use from the Zebra, so I have to tell it that we’re using 4×4 labels instead of 3×2, and the spacing is a bit wonky after the serials label prints if we have a routing list. If there is no routing list, the next label comes out blank. Still, it does the job, quickly and neatly.  We stick on the serial label, and staple the routing list labels (still on the backing) and pull them off later after routing is completed.

We had been using a standard dot matrix printer (remember those?) but had a continuing problem with the label feed. I insisted they “waste” the first label, leaving it blank, and feed it through into the guide bar so the remaining labels would go through properly. Often somebody decided to “save” that label (and avoid the extra task of detaching it) by not feeding it into the guide bar, so when the printed label came out, it jammed in the guide bar.  Then they took the guide bar off the printer to avoid that, and so the labels kept jamming because they didn’t feed properly through the ribbon guide without the guide bar holding them flat against the platen.  On top of that, they had to feed out the printed label, and doing that by using the platen knob on the side stripped the gears (because people forgot to disengage the gears first) and made it even harder for labels to go through properly.

They needed a “black box” kind of printer that didn’t need any adjustments (or have removable parts).  The standard dot matrix printers were designed for batches, not one-at-a-time labels, but that increased the chance of mismatching labels to issues.

I’m hoping that the new customizing of III’s labels in Release 2007 (due out RSN: Real Soon Now) will allow me to print a barcode on the labels. We use a barcode for counting circulation of a serial within the library, but right now, with no barcode on the issues, we have to go to a rolodex full of cards with the barcodes for each serial title.

While I created a barcoded label using our Wasp Barcode Labeler software, which pulled the right title and barcode for it from an Excel file, it’s an extra step and shifting back and forth between softwares, and it was decided not to do it.

Wasp will let me do book labels (I got a roll of spine/pocket labels and tested), and once I see how the new Release 2007 (or the next version) allows me to customize, we might see about getting another Zebra for Tech Services. I’m also looking at the option to print book bands for ILL.