Label Printer Ribbon Troubleshooting

Are you having problems with your label printer? The problem might be your ribbon. In the chart below we've compiled a list of several common symptoms as well as potential causes. If you aren't able to solve the problem please reach out to us and we'll be glad to help.

SYMPTOM

POSSIBLE CAUSE

CORRECTIVE ACTION

Bar Growth

Print speed set too high

Reduce print speed

Old or inferior ribbon or media

Use fresh (not older than one year) ribbon; use premium grade consumables

Overburn/Underburn

Adjust printhead energy setting

Printhead energy setting too high or too low

Adjust to optimize average bar growth (visually or with verifier)

Insufficient Print Contrast

Printhead overheats

Reduce print speed or lower printhead energy setting

Signal (PCS) or Light Image

Faded image

Create new label on laminated, protective stock; increase or lower printhead energy setting

Ribbon and media incompatibility

Consult supplier for compatible ribbon/media combination

Printer set on direct thermal mode

Set printer to thermal transfer mode

Unable to Sustain Proper Wide/Narrow Ratio

Underburn (not enough ribbon transfer

Increase printhead energy setting or use a ribbon with a higher sensitivity (refers to ribbons requiring less energy)

Overburn (too much ribbon transfer)

Lower printhead energy setting or use a ribbon with a lower sensitivity (refers to ribbons requiring more energy)

Streaks or “Dead Spots” on labels

 

Wrinkled ribbon

Check ribbon path; increase tension; increase print speed; lower printhead energy setting

Vendor misapplied stock coating

Replace media

Elements have dirt on them

Clean or replace printhead

Pits and/or Voids, Inconsistent Image Quality

Dirty printhead

Clean printhead with Isopropyl Alcohol or specialty cleaning solution

Dots missing or worn on printhead

Replace printhead

Ink picking

Lower printhead energy setting

Poor Edge Definition

Printing too fast

Slow print speed; do not rotate symbol

Ribbon and media incompatible

Consult supplier for compatible ribbon/media combination

Printer Cannot Calibrate

Die-Cut Labels

Dirty sensor

Clean sensor with compressed air or IPA

Printer set in continuous mode

Change to labels mode

Die-cut label length under minimum length for specific printer model

Go to a “two-up” format

Sensor may not be aligned with gap in media

Move sensor

Printer doesn’t stop when out of ribbon

Dirty Sensor

Clean sensor with compressed air or IPA

Ribbon Breaking

Printhead energy set too high

Reduce printhead energy setting

Printhead pressure set too high

Lower printhead pressure

Printer set on direct thermal mode

Set printer to thermal transfer mode

Unwind tension set too high

Lower unwind tension

Backcoat not there- insufficient

Replace ribbon product

Ribbon Slippage

Ribbon moving slower than label due to incorrect ribbon wind, glossy stock, or unwind tension too high

Change label stock or ribbon, or adjust unwind tension

Rewind tension too low

Increase rewind tension

Printing Voids

Dust on label

Remove dust with compressed air or place static tinsel across label unwind

Uneven facestock surface

Select different stock-topcoat or print-treated

Incompatible combination

Select new ribbon or stock

Dirty printhead/ burned out elements

Clean printhead regularly

Printhead misalignment

Check for alignment related defects with a well-performing ribbon/receiver combo, realign if necessary

Ribbon Wrinkling

Printhead misaligned

Realign printhead

Guide bar misaligned

Realign guide bar

Incorrect printhead pressure

Adjust pressure

Incorrect printhead spring tension

Adjust unwind/rewind tension

Printhead energy setting too high

Lower printhead energy setting

Ribbon more narrow than label

Use ribbon at least as wide as label

Rewind tension is greater than unwind tension

Adjust tension (unwind tension should be greater than rewind)