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How to Fix a Broken Printer Ribbon

17 Jan How to Fix a Broken Printer Ribbon
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If you use a plastic ID card printer, you’ll be familiar with the colour printer ribbon or film that goes inside. Now picture this scene.

  • You’re on-site at an event with a dye sublimation printer.
  • Your ID card printer is set up, and it’s working well, producing passes for this evening’s event.
  • Suddenly there’s a horrible noise, and your beloved dye sublimation printer stops!
  • The ‘printer ribbon broken’ error message pops up.

You open up the badge printer to see that the ribbon is broken. You don’t have any more printer ribbons and can’t get any delivered in time for your event.

broken printer ribbon

Is this an ID card printer ribbon disaster?

No – we have an easy fix for broken printer ribbons so that you can get back to printing your event passes, ID cards or membership cards. You just need sticky tape!

Remove the snapped printer ribbon from your ID card printer and lay it on a clean surface with the snapped ribbon lined up, ready to be taped. Make sure that the ribbon’s rollers are the correct way around so that the ribbon is in the right place for when you put it back into the printer.

Cut a piece of sticky tape the width of the ribbon and stick the snapped ribbon back together. Make sure the ribbon is straight and free of creases.

Roll the printer ribbon onto the take-up roller (for used ribbon) and keep on rolling until the taped section is no longer visible. Then put the ribbon back into the printer, clear the error and resume printing.

Why did my printer ribbon snap? Can I prevent it from happening again?

The most common reasons a printer ribbon snaps or tears are as follows:

  1. The print head or printer rollers may be dirty. Dirt can stick to the print head or plastic card and cause the ribbon to tears. Regularly clean your printer using the correct printer cleaning kit to prevent this. Always follow the printer’s cleaning cycle instructions to avoid causing damage. Failing to clean your plastic card printer could void the printer’s warranty, we have a cleaning kit to assist with this.
  2. The intensity of the print head might need adjusting. In your printer’s settings and preferences, there are options to increase or decrease the intensity of your printer’s print head. Increasing it too much could cause the print head to become too hot and stick to the ribbon, which could make it split.
  3. If your ribbon breaks frequently, do you have large blocks of solid colour in your card design? If you do, try reducing the intensity of your print head or the resin adjustment setting. Large areas of block print can also cause the ribbon to stick to the print head because it warms up too much.

Clearing a printhead

If you’re printing cards with a complex design with large block colour areas, have you considered purchasing a retransfer card printer?

Direct-To-Card (DTC) or dye-sublimation printers can’t print over the edge of cards or print block colours as well as a retransfer printer. Retransfer printers also give a smoother, crisper finish.

Contact us if you think your design may not suit a Direct-To-Card printer. An expert will guide you through the options available to you. We have years of experience in ID card printing and will always try to give you the best independent advice.

Magicard Ultima retransfer printer

So it’s as simple as that?

Fixing a broken printer ribbon wasn’t as hard as you thought, right? Well, now that’s done, it’s time to get back to printing event passes before your guests start to arrive!