Stand Alone Printing – Zebra KDU

We talk a lot about integrating printing and labeling systems into networks, with the cloud or with PLCs. Sometimes though, a more stand alone approach makes more sense – be able to easily set up equipment to print labels with no computer or server needed at all.

We’ve discussed Intermec’s SmartPrinting before, but our friends at Zebra also have a very simple solution to use with their printers and ZE500 print engines.

Stand alone printing - IDT 252 with Zebra KDU

Zebra KDU with IDT Label Printer Applicator

Zebra’s KDU is a simple keyboard unit with a 4 line display and 32 KB of memory for label formats (yes, I know it’s not too much, but you can always store images and other stuff in the printer’s memory).

ZPL files (these can be coded in ZPL if you can do that, or you can print to file from your favorite label software) are loaded into the KDU and the operator is prompted on the display to enter variable data. The KDU communicates with the printer via RS232 and it also has auxiliary RS232 ports to support devices such as scales or barcode scanners.

We have a number of customers using the KDU very successfully – it is a great solution for those times when simpler is better.

Oh, if you are really observant, you might have noticed that the printer in my photo is a Sato not a Zebra – I wonder if the KDU would work if the printer was set to ZPL emulation?

Do you need to improve your labeling operations? ID Technology can certainly help. Call us  toll free at: 888-438-3242 Option#3 or you can contact me directly at


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