This section applies only to printers that have the Thermal Transfer option installed.
Do I need to use ribbon?
The media itself determines if you will need to use ribbon.
  • Thermal Transfer media—Requires ribbon.
  • Direct Thermal media—Does NOT require ribbon.
How can I tell if media is Direct Thermal or Thermal Transfer?
(See direct thermal and thermal transfer for definitions.)
The easiest way to find out is to scratch the surface of the media rapidly with your fingernail. If a black mark appears where you scratched, the media is Direct Thermal, so you do NOT need ribbon.
What kind of ribbon can I use?
This printer can only use ribbon that is coated on the outside unless you purchase and install the optional spindle that allows ribbon that is coated on the inside. Contact your authorized Zebra reseller for ordering information.
How can I tell which side of the ribbon is coated?
Use one of these two methods to identify the coated side:
  • Method 1: Adhesive Test
    1. Press a corner of the sticky side of a label to the outer surface of the ribbon roll.
    2. Peel the label off the ribbon.
    If ink particles adhere to the label, the outer side of the roll is coated. Repeat this test with the inner surface if needed to confirm which side is coated.
  • Method 2: Ribbon Scratch Test
    1. Unroll a short length of ribbon and place the outer surface against a piece of paper.
    2. Scratch the inner surface of the ribbon with your fingernail.
    3. Lift the ribbon and check for marks on the paper.
    If the ribbon left a mark, the outer side is coated.