How to Change the Ribbon on a Zebra Printer

By Mark Ritchie

Replacing a Zebra printer ribbon is not hard.
i bar code/ id of a product image by L. Shat from

Zebra printers are a line of specialty thermal printers including bar code, mobile bar code, RFID, kiosk and card models. Unlike traditional printers, Zebra printers print with a ribbon instead of an ink/toner cartridge. Zebra ribbons are available in wax, wax/resin and resin models. Wax ribbons are ideal for standard printing on paper material. Wax/resin ribbons are extremely durable against wear of chemicals on paper. Resin ribbons provide superior durability against chemicals and heat on synthetics. Zebra printers are equipped with Zebra's patented Load-N-Go feature. With this feature, changing the ribbon is partially automated and takes under two minutes. Changing the ribbon is a similar process for most Zebra models.

Turn the printer on before changing the ribbon. This allows the ribbon to synchronize correctly. Open the lid and push the blue release arrow forward. The release arrow is found above the print head carriage. The print head carriage houses the print spools.

Lift up the print head carriage (the blue release arrow is attached to it) and remove the used ribbon by pulling it toward you.

Hold the ribbon spool in your right hand with the white end facing the printer. In your left hand, hold the empty spool. Leave the blue tape on the new ribbon spool.

Place the ribbon on the spindle located directly under the print head carriage, and place the empty spool on the take-up spindle to the left of the carriage (this is the smaller spindle). The spindles are cone-shaped cylinders that fit neatly into the ribbon spool.

Press down on the print head carriage until it clicks back into position. The printer will automatically adjust the ribbon. After 20 seconds, the LCD screen will display "Ready."