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Dot Matrix Printing Headaches in XP

Posted on 2007-03-18
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Last Modified: 2010-04-12
Working with a developer on a program our industry has and we need to be able to
print to a dot matrix printer for labels ... well we are having some issues with how to
make this work with Windows XP ...

The program's print control pops up a doumnet window with the list of records, but
to get it to keep the line spacing was extremely difficult, but we did get it ...

Then when we tested for multiple pages (more than 9 labels) the print control caused a page break that throws the labels off ... We have worked days on how to stop this with not success.

Also to stop wasting a lot of labels after the printng is complete, we had to set up a print document on the workstation of a 4" length (the shortes the printer will allow).

We just want to send a list of labels to a traction feed printer like the old days .... but it does not seem to be possible ... the program is written in C++ ...

Is there an easy way to make this work ? I looked for pinter controls and nothing seems to be designed to do a dot matrix as before ? I know the programmer downloaded some code and a dll from a site he found but it did not work ...

No we have a way to print but the user has to print 9 labels at a time so the page break does not throw off the alignment.
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Question by:AEII
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7 Comments
 
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:lherrou
ID: 18744975
AEII,

I'll leave it to others with the technical expertise to answer your specific question, if possible. However, my first thought when looking at it was, why are you printing labels with a dot-matrix printer at all, why not go to a designated label printer like the Brother QL-500, Informatics Wasp WPL305, or  DYMO Labelwriter series?

Cheers,
LHerrou
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:KCTS
ID: 18745230
...or sheets of laser labels
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:lherrou
ID: 18745271
If I'm reading the question right, the problem with sheets is that you can't send through part of a sheet. Even if you use only a few labels, you can only send through that one sheet a couple of times.
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Author Comment

by:AEII
ID: 18745688
The reason the dotmatrix printer is being used in this industry is cost of labels and speed. The thermo lables are too expensive since the shops will generally go through 1000+ labels a month ... Dot matrix labels are cheap and on draft mode the printer screems through 20 - 30 labels at a time.

The labels are the standard 15/16" x 3 1/2" that we print 4 lines on each.
We print 1 column labels not multiple column sheets.

The component when in print preview shows a whole page which is defaulting
to 8.5 x 11" ... we can suppress the print preview and the custom paper size we can set up in the default printer is 4" x 4" ... this is smallest page size the new dot matrix printer can use ...

This print job needs to be like they used to work ... but I think Windows prohibits the old ways and uses the printer setup trying to send pages as if it is an inkjet or laser printer ... it would be way cool if we could just send one label to the printer and not have the printer advance to the full 4" ... then we could simply push the "page Advance" on the printer ... take the label ... push it again and we are ready for the next job ... I think this is way too much to hope Windows will allow anymore ...
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LVL 38

Accepted Solution

by:
hdhondt earned 500 total points
ID: 18746104
A dot-matrix understands plain old ASCII. Since you're doing this in C++, you can just take the data and send it line by line. For blank lines just send a CR/LF sequence. As long as you never send a formfeed you'll be fine. That way you do not waste a single label. It means bypassing the printer driver, but with C++ that should not be all that difficult: just send the data straight to the port.

This only depends on the distance from one label to the next being an exact number of lines, at the printer's current setting.

If you do want to use a printer driver, the Generic/Text Only driver lets you select form length. Set the Paper source to "Cont. Feed - No Break", and from printer Properties > Device Settings set the paper size for this to the distance between folds on your labels.
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Author Comment

by:AEII
ID: 18917013
The solution I used was to set up a generic printer as per the suggestion. There were several other items which caused issues such as the printer can only accept a minimum of 4" length so the paper size had to be set to 4" or it would not work.

Then the printer need to not be set as the default printer or some crashing took place. If I used a standard printer as the default the printer control in the program would display the list of labels correctly and print them while only wasting a few labels due to the line feed needed to tear the labels off at the end of the tractor feed ...

It sure does not seem as easy as it used to be back in the day ...

Thanks
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