Printers – General Setup For Use In RxWorks

Printers – General Setup For Use In RxWorks

Estimated reading time: 16 min

New technologies are bringing completely paperless communications closer to reality. However, printed materials are still a valuable resource in a veterinary environment. Troublesome printers can have a big impact on your practice workflow and efficiency, and can also impact the presentation of client communication materials.
Correct printer configuration is critical to ensuring you can access printed materials on demand, with the minimum of fuss. Read on through this article to learn more about how to correctly configure printers for use with RxWorks.

Key Points

  • This article contains general printer setup information that is applicable to RxWorks-supplied hardware and those from 3rd party vendors.
  • Due to the technical nature of this article, you may wish to consult with your IT technician if you are not confident with printer or hardware installation, or you do not perform regular IT administration tasks.
  • The combination of printer models and practice infrastructure means that it is impossible to cover every specific setup scenario.
  • RxWorks cannot offer any guarantee of successful printer operation where the printer is not an RxWorks approved/tested model.
  • RxWorks cannot offer any guarantee of successful printer operation where the server or client hardware is supplied by a 3rd party vendor.
  • Which Printer Is Right For My Practice?

    Choosing a printer for your practice can be a confusing exercise. Use the information below to help guide your research, and if you’re not sure, contact your Practice Advisor for a recommendation.

    Print Volume

    It is useful to estimate how many printed pages are required per month/week. Your practice’s print volume will affect consumables usage (toner, drum etc.), service intervals, & expected lifespan before replacement is required.
    A business grade printer is usually designed for higher usage and longer service life. Consumables and cost per page is typically lower than consumer/HOME office oriented products.

    Print Speed

    Start-up time and page per minute values may be important when printing invoices from your reception area, but may not be as important when printing a large batch report such as a reminder run or account run.

    Colour Or Black & White?

    The content of most RxWorks invoices and reports are in black & white. Some financial reports and laboratory results documents contain colour graphics. Colour elements may also be included in fonts and images inserted into customisable MS Word documents e.g. ‘Vaccination Certificate with Photo’.
    Your letterhead/logo is also a consideration when choosing a mono/colour printer. If you use a pre-printed letterhead, and colour graphics and forms are not a concern, then a mono laser printer is all that is required. If you choose to print your own colour logo/letterhead along with your invoices, you’ll need a colour printer.

    Operating System (OS) Compatibility

    A printer is typically only as good and reliable as its driver. A printer driver is a piece of software that instructs the printer as to how to process a print job, and how the printer behaves in your network. Drivers come in many forms with different attributes.
    Some drivers can only be used with specific Operating Systems (e.g. Windows), or a specific version of an operating system (e.g. Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit). It is not uncommon to find that a printer designed for a single-computer HOME office does not have drivers to make it work in a Terminal Server operating system.
    Features like ink monitors are often not designed for multi-user server systems, and as such can wreak havoc on your most critical piece of IT hardware – your server!
    Choose a printer that clearly states its compatibility with your server, and other network computers. Keep in mind that the printer driver used on your server may be different to the driver used to operate the printer from a PC or Laptop.

    How Many Printers Will I Need?

    You may require more than one printer in your practice.
    You may wish to consider some of the following:

  • Will you need multiple printers in different areas for convenience?
  • Would a medium sized mono printer suit your reception area, while a larger colour unit could be used for large print runs for reminders and account statements?
  • Do you require a basic printer for reporting activities in an office?
  • Is there a backup printer you can print to if the main printer fails or has an issue?
  • Does an all-in-one printer satisfy the most basic print volume & duty cycle requirements?
  • Do you require special printing features such as Duplex or large capacity paper trays?
  • Do you use multiple types of paper e.g. plain, letterhead, card stock, A5 etc. and will this mean switching paper in and out of paper trays?
  • Printer Physical Size

    Printers come in a range of shapes and sizes. You may wish to check the dimensions of a proposed printer to ensure that it will fit in its intended location.

    RxWorks Printing Guidelines

    Generally, most printers will print from RxWorks and will be able to utilise their standard features without issue. With the correct drivers installed and a consistent setup routine, printer installation for use in RxWorks is straight-forward.
    Read on to find out more about special requirements for RxWorks printing.

    Printer Names & Convention

  • RxWorks can only reference printers that are installed and visible on the computer that the application is running from.
  • RxWorks references Printer Names which are linked to documents via a Pagestyle.
  • A Pagestyle is a group of documents with the same print properties such as margins, inclusion of letterheads, and defines which printer and tray they should print to.
  • Example Printer Names

    Default printer names can be long and not very descriptive. For simplicity and ease of identification when printing, it is useful to rename printers with meaningful names.

    See some example names below:
    INVOICE:Main printer for invoices & receipts. Could be stocked with letterhead paper.
    Report:a second printer filled with plain paper for printing internal practice documents.
    Office:a small desktop printer that can only be printed to from a single office terminal.
    Label:practice drug label printer.
    Invoice_b2:main printer for invoices & receipts at a second branch location (b2).
    B2_Report_lh:a secondary printer with 2 feeder trays located at a branch practice. this tray is loaded with letterhead paper.
    B2_Report_plain: the second tray of the same report printer above, loaded with plain paper.

    regardless of the actual name given, printers must have identical names on each installation instance on your network. consistent printer names are critical to ensuring reliable printing results from RxWorks. This is critical in Peer 2 Peer networks.

    Multiple Paper Trays

    Many printers have more than one paper feed tray. Some have multiple dedicated cartridge trays, while others have a cartridge plus additional fold-out tray.

  • Where possible, we recommend installing One instanceof the printer Per available tray.
  • Usual naming convention applies to each tray as if it were an entirely different printer.
  • Each tray is configured as an independent printer with its own driver settings.
  • A5 Printing

    A5 document printing is not supported in RxWorks for the following reasons:

  • The typical content of an average invoice, including extra clinic information exceeds what will fit onto an A5 page.
  • Frequent paper jams due to the short page length. This is a common issue with numerous printer models with a longer paper path designed to handle A4/Letter sized paper.
  • Additional complexity in printer tray configuration. Some printers/drivers do not have adequate configuration options to direct printing to the desired tray and paper size.
  • Standard RxWorks Crystal Reports and MS Word documents are formatted for A4 paper. User customisable reports (e.g. MS Word documents) may be configured for A5 paper. However, no support assistance can be provided for printer jams or form-to-tray assignment issues.
    Where there is a need to ‘run out’ A5 paper stock before switching to A4, some legacy A5 options may be able to be implemented to assist. This may be done using A5 sized Crystal Reports & Word documents, or by using the printer driver paper resize options.

    Printer Connection Interfaces

    The way in which a printer connects to your network and other devices has evolved over time. The method of connection has an impact on how the device will be connected to your network and its ability to be used with RxWorks. See the different types of connection below in order of most recommended to least recommended.

    Network Connected – Wired / Wireless

    A built-in print server allows the printer to connect directly to a network without any direct connection to a PC. This is the preferred connection interface for use in all RxWorks networks.

    Poor print speed and lost connections can occur if signal strength is not adequate for wireless devices.
    Network Connected – Print Server

    A print server device can be attached to a non-networked printer to allow it to be connected directly to a network instead of to a PC.

  • Not all printers are compatible with print servers.
  • Print Servers for USB printers are more prone to compatibility issues than parallel port printers.
  • Shared Local Printer

    A shared local port printer is one that is connected to a PC via a USB cable or other connection. The printer is then shared on the network to other computers.
    When you send a document to print it must be processed on your computer before being sent to the remote ‘host’ PC for final processing and print. Any inconsistency of driver setup and operating system environment across the two computers can impact the speed and reliability of this printing configuration.

    This method of connection has the worst performance, is often unreliable, and is the most complex to setup and maintain. A better is option is to attach the printer to a print server instead of a PC so it can be connected directly to the
    network. RxWorks can offer only limited assistance for this type of installation.

    Install Guide – Terminal Server Environment

    In a Terminal Server environment, RxWorks runs from a single installation instance with multiple users connecting via Remote Desktop.
    RxWorks can reference printers that are Installed on the Server and are displayed in the list of printer devices.
    To successfully print from RxWorks in a terminal server environment:

  • The printer must be installed on the Terminal Server where the RxWorks application is hosted.
  • For general network and non-RxWorks printing, the printer may be installed on all network PCs and Laptop devices (except thin client terminals). It is advised that the printer names are kept consistent but this is not mandatory.
  • The diagram below shows where to install printers for use in a terminal server environment.

    session Printing Is Not Supported. A session printer is one that is physically connected to a terminal such as a PC or laptop, but is visible to the server when connected via a Remote Desktop Session. The name of a session printer changes due to an increasing session count being appended to the printer name upon each new remote connection e.g. “CLP4000 (in session 3)” “CLP4000 (in session 4)”.

    Install Guide – Peer-2-Peer Environment

    RxWorks can only reference printers that are Installed on the ‘main PC’ and are displayed in the list of printer devices.
    RxWorks has a separate installation instance on each peer device, but all instances reference the same database hosted on the server machine. Each instance will attempt to render print jobs On its own host machine.

    To successfully print from RxWorks in a Peer to Peer environment:

  • The printer must be installed on all peer PCs/Laptops that will be used as an RxWorks terminal.
  • It is critical to ensure identical printer names are used for each printer installed on all peer workstations.
  • The diagram below shows where to install printers for use in a Peer to Peer environment.

    Network Printer Installation

    A network printer is any printer that either has its own built-in network connection or one that is connected using an external print server device.

    Initial IP Address Setup

  • The printer will need an IP ADDRESS Configured before it can be seen on the network.
  • If a Print Server is to be used, all IP and other network settings are configured on the print server rather than the printer.
  • The network configuration steps will be specific to each make/model of printer/print server. Refer to the device installation manual for instructions.
  • Record the IP address information for use later.
  • Printer Installation

    To install a network printer (one connected directly to your network), follow the instructions outlined below:

    1. Open the print management section for your operating system.
    2. To do this in a typical MS Windows environment, go to:

      • start > Devices & PrintersOR
      • start > Control Panel > Devices & Printers
    3. Click Add A Printer.
    4. Select Add A Local Printer.
    5. Select the Create a New Port options & specify the port type as a standard TCP/IP Port & click next.
    6. Enter the IP Address of the printer as recorded in step one. Uncheck the query printer for driver selection option. Click next.
    7. Windows will attempt to detect the network port which may take a few moments. If the port cannot be found select the device type option: Standard – Generic Network Card.

    8. Select your printer manufacturer & model from the list. If your printer model is not shown, click the HAVE DISK Option to search for a driver on a CD or from a previously downloaded file on your computer. Click next.
    9. If the driver has already been installed you can either keep the existing driver or replace it – choose the default to keep the existing driver. Click next.

    10. Rename the printer using your preferred naming convention. Use a simple, easy to understand format. Click next.
    11. Select Do Not Share This Printer. Automatic printer sharing can create issues with driver compatibility across different computers and can make printer management more complicated.
    12. Choose if the printer is to be the default Printer For windows printing. RxWorks can reference the Windows Default Printer, but it usually superseded by defined pagestyles for documents.
    13. Print a test page to verify that the printer can print successfully from Windows. Click Finish.

    The new printer is now shown in the list of available printers.

    Local Port Printer Installation

    Shared Local Port printer installation is a ‘last resort’ where a better network printer option is unavailable. Shared local port printer installations are the Least desirable type of printer installation due to:

  • Complex setup
  • Driver compatibility issues
  • Speed of printing
  • RxWorks does not support this method of printer installation and can only provide limited technical assistance if issues arise. It is recommended that a print server be installed to allow the device to be connected directly to the network. The information in this section is provided as a guide only so that a reasonable level of functionality is achieved if this installation method is used.

    The diagram below shows an installation overview for shared local port printers.

    Setting up a local port printer has 2 stages – host setup & sharing, followed by local port setup on peer PCs. Use the guide below to configure a local port printer.

    Stage 1 – Printer Setup On Host PC

    The first stage of setup will allow the printer to be installed as a stand-alone printer attached to a PC or Laptop. The printer will then be shared on the network so other computers can ‘see’ it. You may need to enable network & printer sharing options, and create firewall exceptions to successfully share the device on the network.

    Sleep or power save modes can add a significant delay before a print job starts. It may be necessary to disable these if the printer has this option.
    1. Connect the printer to a computer using either a USB or printer cable & install as per the device installation instructions.
      • Avoid using the default printer name & use a simpler name such as ‘INVOICE’ or ‘OFFICE’ instead.
      • Complete the installation and print a test page to ensure all is working.
    2. Make sure you can see the new printer shown in the printer management window e.g. start > Control Panel > Devices & Printers
    3. If you did not share the printer during installation or need to change the shared name, Right click the new printer name & select Properties.
    4. Select the sharing tab.
    5. Select share This Printer.
    6. Set the share Name so it is identical to the printer name you entered when the printer was installed.
    7. This is Critical as this name is visible to all other network computers.

    8. If the option is available, enable Render Print Jobs On Client Computers.
    9. Click OK to finish.

    The printer should now be shared on the network and other computers should be able to connect to it. Read on to see how to configure the printer on the remaining computers on the network.

    Stage 2 – Local Port Setup

    The local port setup step allows a shared printer attached to a PC to be installed on subsequent devices as if the printer was physically attached to them. You will need to know the computer name (e.g. OFFICE01) or IP address that the shared printer is attached to complete the port setup.

    1. Open the print management section for your operating system.
    2. To do this in a typical MS Windows environment, go to:

      • start > Devices & Printers OR
      • start > Control Panel > Devices & Printers
    3. Click Add A Printer.
    4. Select Add A Local Printer.
    5. Select the Create a New Port options & specify the port type as a LOCAL PORt & click next.
    6. Enter the Port Name Using either the computer name or IP address, followed by the printer share name as per the examples below.
    7. ComputerNameShare Name

      IPAddressShareName

      Windows will attempt to detect the port across the network. If the share cannot be located at this point, a firewall or other network may be blocking it.

    8. Select your printer manufacturer & model from the list. If your printer model is not shown, click the HAVE DISK Option to search for a driver on a CD or from a previously downloaded file on your computer. Click next.
    9. If the driver has already been installed you can either keep the existing driver or replace it – choose the default to keep the existing driver. Click next.

      Rename the printer using your preferred naming convention. Use a simple, easy to understand format. Click next.

    10. Select Do Not Share This Printer. Automatic printer sharing can create issues with driver compatibility across different computers and can make printer management more complicated.
    11. Choose if the printer is to be the Default Printer For windows printing. RxWorks can reference the Windows Default Printer, but it usually superseded by defined pagestyles for documents.
    12. Print a test page to verify that the printer can print successfully from Windows. Click Finish.

    The new printer is now shown in the list of available printers. Repeat the Stage 2 setup steps for each additional computer that needs to access this printer.

    Tech Tips & Tricks

    You may find the information below useful when configuring printers for use in RxWorks. The functions listed below are not available on all printer models.
    For assistance with any of these configuration options, contact your practice IT technician.

    Crystal Reports

    RxWorks uses ‘Crystal Reports’ for documents such as invoices and receipts, as well as a large number of internal and external practice documents. Crystal Reports interact with printer drivers when previewing and printing documents which can impact the final printed result.
    It is not uncommon to need to test multiple driver variants e.g. PCL5e, PostScript (PS), in order to obtain a satisfactory print result.

    Disable Colour Printing

    Your printer may have a ‘greyscale only’ option to minimise colour toner use. This function is usually activated in the printer driver within windows.
    RxWorks recommends installing a separate instance of the same printer with full colour capability so that it is not necessary to change driver settings in order to print colour documents.

    A4 / Letter Resize

    Many printers are supplied with the default paper size set to ‘Letter’ (8.5 x 11 Inches). If you attempt to print to A4 paper, a warning light may flash and you need to hit a button on the printer to allow the job to print.
    You can resolve this issue by:

  • Setting the paper size on the printer device to A4. OR
  • Enable the A4/Letter resize option in the printer driver.
  • Form To Tray Assignment

    Many printers have multiple trays capable of handling different paper sizes. Form to tray assignment is used to direct print jobs to
    the correct tray and paper stock.
    Usually there are 2 locations where the paper size must be specified – on the printer device itself, and in the printer driver.
    Inconsistency between these settings can disrupt print jobs.
    If the paper size for a printer tray is likely to vary, set the printer paper size to ‘Any Size, Any Type’ or similar. If the paper size is always the same for a printer tray, it is best to set the printer paper size to match the paper sized you are using.
    Printer driver settings should always reflect the actual paper size being used. Additional printer instances are usually required for multiple trays/variable paper size.

    IP Address Ranges

    RxWorks recommends assigning fixed IP addresses to printers for easy maintenance and diagnostics. RxWorks typically assigns printers to a reserved IP range within one or more subnets as follows:

  • 192.168.1.20 – 192.168.1.29 (main branch or single site)
  • 192.168.2.20 – 192.168.2.29 (branch 2)
  • 192.168.3.20 – 192.168.3.29 (branch 3)
  • RxWorks recommends using a separate subnet for remote branches connected via a VPN. RxWorks can use IP subnet information to manage pagestyles (document print groups) which greatly simplifies the setup of branch printing.

    Access A Printer Web Interface

    Most network enabled printers and print servers have a built-in management interface that is accessible from any web browser.
    To open the web interface:

    1. Open your preferred web browser.
    2. Enter the IP address of the printer into the address bar & hit enter.
    3. You may be required to enter a username and password for some printers to be able to change settings.

    The above is an example only; specific capabilities of printers will vary depending on brand and model.

    Troubleshooting

    You may wish to explore some of the troubleshooting options below to assist with printing issues. This is not an exhaustive list of troubleshooting steps but may be useful to help get a printer up and running again.
    As with any troubleshooting, it is often a process of elimination. The more information that can be gathered about the problem, the easier it is to locate the cause.

    Check That The Printer Is Powered On

    This may seem silly but a number of devices do not resume to ‘ON’ after a power outage, or have built in power-saving sleep modes.

    Check For Error Lights/Messages

    Errors or warnings may give you information about what the issue is. If an error code is given, record it and pass it to your HW technician.

    Check That There Is Adequate Paper

    Printers may prematurely report an empty paper tray if only a few sheets are left. Top up the paper tray if it is running low.

    Have you tried turning it off and on again?

    A question made famous by the TV series ‘The IT Crowd’ is actually very useful! A network printer may have disconnected from the network. By power-cycling the printer it will force the printer to restart a dropped connection. This also works to clear internal printer errors.

    Reset Other Linked Devices e.g. Print Server

    The above method can be applied to other devices linked to the printer. If the printer is connected to a print server device, try resetting the print server as well.

    Check Network Cables and Points

    Ensure network cables are properly seated and that the small retaining clips have not broken off. You can try swapping a network cable from another device to check the cable. Connecting the cable to another wall/network point can also help identify cable issues.

    Restart Network Switches

    All network devices (PCs, Server, & Printers etc.) are connected by network switch. The switch may be a stand-alone device or may be part of an internet router/modem.
    Issues with a switch can leave network devices in a disconnected state. You may wish to restart (power-cycle) any network devices that the printer is connected to.

    Print Result Is Poor

    Poor quality printing can be the result of a number of factors and usually point to an issue with the printer device. Some common issues are:

  • Toner dust build-up in printer internals – Seek assistance from a printer repairer.
  • Faulty or low toner/drum cartridges – test with a known good cartridge or replace with new.
  • Poor quality paper can cause toner to not ‘adhere’ to the paper surface – try different paper.
  • Printer Paper Jam

    Paper jams result when there is an issue with the paper stock or the mechanical components of the printer.

  • Paper stock that is too thin or of poor quality is prone to curl due to the heat applied during printing. Try using a different type of printer paper.
  • Worn or dirty rollers can cause paper to stick or slip while being pushed through the paper path. Visually inspect and wipe down any visible mechanical rollers with a lint-free cloth.
  • Check your printer paper type settings and adjust for the paper you are using.
  • Lines On Paper

    A printed page with black marks or lines running through it, or lines of blank unprinted sections can indicate the following:

  • Faulty or dirty drum/toner cartridge. Remove accessible cartridges and wipe off any residual toner dust on the outside of the cartridge.
  • Faulty operation of the laser print head.
  • An issue with the print driver. A different driver may need to be applied.
  • If basic checks and clean do not resolve the issue, consult your IT or printer service technician.

    No Printers Are Visible On The Server

    If no printers are visible in the list of printer devices, then it is possible that the Print Spooler has failed to start correctly. This can occur after a server reboot or other system event.
    If you have access to the Run or Command function in windows, you can execute the following command to restart the print spooler:

    1. Click start > Run
    2. Type CMD & hit ENTER to open the command window.
    3. Type Net stop spooler & hit enter. This will stop the spooler if it is currently running. If not proceed to the next step.
    4. Type Net start spooler & hit enter. A confirmation of the spooler start should be displayed.
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