“Error Condition Ribbon Out” While in Thermal Printer Mode – Zebra Error

Target Audience: Basic User, Advanced User, IT Manager
Article #: 12655


While printing with a Zebra ZE500 in direct thermal printing mode, the user receives an error message “Error Condition Ribbon Out”. This is despite a ribbon not being needed for this mode. This article explains the problem and offers the solution.


On the surface of it, the cause is simple. The printer’s ribbon sensor does not detect that a ribbon is loaded. However, as was mentioned above, this message appeared while the user was printing in Direct Thermal Printer Mode. In this mode, the printer is using heat-sensitive label stock, so no thermal ribbon is required.

Quick Fixes

If you did not intend to print in Direct Thermal Printer Mode, then check the printer and make sure that the ribbon is correctly loaded and installed into the printer.

On the other hand, if you are printing directly onto heat-sensitive label stock, the printer may be incorrectly set to Thermal Transfer Printing Mode. The printer will only check for a ribbon if it is set to Direct Thermal Printer Mode. Otherwise, it will not generate the “Error Condition Ribbon Out” message. Make sure the printer is set to the correct mode.


The most direct method to change the print mode is directly through the print engine. This is done by entering the IP address of the printer into a browser. However, this change can be easily overwritten by the settings in the print driver.

The printer driver settings will overwrite the settings at the time of print. The print job utilizes the driver settings and applies them on the printer. Those settings will remain on the printer until another job is run or if the printer is reset to defaults.

Managing printer settings in Windows can be a challenge. This article can guide you through the complexities.

Additional Comments

Issue found with Zebra ZE500 printer

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