Loading Transfer Ribbon
Loading Transfer Ribbon

Loading Transfer Ribbon

Your printer uses ribbon to print. Transfer ribbons come in several varieties and in some cases colors to match your application needs. Use the information provided here to purchase compatible ribbon supplies and load ribbon in your printer.
Your printer requires certified Zebra ribbons for optimal printing performance and operation.
Transfer ribbons available from Zebra are:
  • Specifically designed to work with your printer and with Zebra-brand media.
  • Include a ribbon-out trailer (reflector). When the printer senses this trailer, it recognizes that the transfer ribbon roll has been used up and stops printing, to prevent damage to the printhead.
  • Ribbons and ribbon cores manufactured by Zebra have notches which help maintain ribbon-roll engagement and drive (without slipping) while printing.
Using non-Zebra media or ribbons—not approved for use in your Zebra printer—may damage your printer or its printhead.
To purchase ribbon and supplies that are compatible with your printer, go to zebra.com/supplies. These color-coded ribbon types are available for your printer:
  • Blue—Performance Wax
  • Silver—Premium Wax/Resin
  • Gold—Performance Resin for synthetics (6 ips max. speed) and coated paper (4 ips max. speed)
  • Red—Premium Resin for synthetics (4 ips max. speed)
For more information on using ribbons with your printer, see Ribbon Overview and Use.
For optimal results and to prevent damage to the printer:
  • Match the media and ribbon types you plan to use.
  • Use ribbon that is wider than the media to protect the printhead from wear.
    If the ribbon used is not as wide as the media loaded, areas of the printhead that are NOT protected by ribbon may wear out prematurely and damage the printhead.
  • Do NOT load ribbon in the printer if you are printing on direct thermal media. To determine the type of media you are using, see Determining Thermal Media Types.
  • Make sure the notches on the ribbon core are square. The notches must be in good condition to lock on the spindle.
    DO NOT use any ribbon cores with damaged notches (rounded, frayed, smashed, etc.). Cores with damaged notches may slip and cause ribbon wrinkle, poor end-of-ribbon sensing, or potentially other intermittent failures.
If the printer runs out of ribbon while printing and you need to replace ribbon without losing your print job, see Ribbon Overview and Use.
  1. Prepare the ribbon by removing its wrapping and pulling its adhesive strip free.
    Right side (printer and roll)
    Adhesive strip
    Notch (required on left side of ribbon)
    Do NOT use early model desktop printer ribbon cores! Older ribbon cores have notches on only one side of the ribbon core. They are too large and will cause take-up spool to bind.
  2. Open the printer and place a new ribbon roll on printer’s lower ribbon supply spindles.
  3. Rotate the roll until the notches align and lock into the left side of the supply hub.
    Your first ribbon take-up core shipped in the box with your printer. During subsequent ribbon replacements, you can use the empty supply core to take-up the next roll of ribbon.
  4. Pull the transfer ribbon’s leader off the roll and attach it with the adhesive strip on the leader to the empty ribbon core on the supply spindle. Center the ribbon on the ribbon core.
  5. Rotate the thumb wheel on the left side of the supply spindle towards the rear of the printer, until the ribbon is pulled tight across the printhead.
  6. Verify that media—matched for use with this ribbon—is loaded and the printer is ready to print, then close the printer cover.
  7. Press
    to make the printer feed a minimum of 10 cm (4 in.) of media to remove slack and ribbon wrinkle, and to align the ribbon on the spindles.
  8. Use your printer driver, application software such as Zebra Setup Utilities, or printer programming commands to change the print mode setting from Direct Thermal printing to Thermal Transfer printing. This will set the printer’s temperature profiles for thermal transfer media.
    If using ZPL programming...
    Send the printer the
    (Media Type) ZPL II command. See the instructions for this command in the ZPL Programming Guide.
    If using EPL programming in Page Mode (the default for your printer)...
    Refer to the
    (Hardware Options)  command. See the instructions for this command in the EPL Programming Guide.
  9. Verify the mode change from Direct Thermal printing to Thermal Transfer printing by printing a Printer Configuration label. See Printing a Test (Printer Configuration) Label.
    entry on the label should read