Label Is Blank, the Thermal Ribbon Will Not Transfer Wax or Resin Material to Label – Thermal Printer Problem


Thermal transfer technology uses heat from the print head to transfer a wax, resin, or combination material to the surface of the label. This article discusses the problem of when tht transfer does not occur. This applies to all thermal transfer printers.

Situation and Symptoms

  • Labels and ribbon loaded into printer
  • Printer set to thermal transfer mode (from software and/or drivers)
  • When a print job is run, the label is not marked (it is still blank)
  • Ribbon shows evidence that it is used (blank spots in the shape of the reverse image of label objects appear after it travels past the print head)


The mechanism where heat is applied to the ribbon pressed upon the label surface is not working properly. Two common situations:

  1. The ribbon is wound in reverse
  2. Print head is not generating enough heat to soften the ribbon material for the transfer


Perform the Tape Test

A common mistake is to load the ribbon backwards. Most ribbons can be loaded into the thermal printer either way. Some printers use the ribbon wound ‘face out’ and some ‘face in’. However, both sides of the ribbon typically look the same.

To verify which side need to touch the label, use a piece of clear tape and gently apply a corner of it to each side of the ribbon. If a residue of material is pulled off the label, that is the side that should touch the face of the label.

Check Heat / Darkness Settings

The heat settings (also called darkness settings) may need to be increased. Check the printer LCD panel (if available) and/or print drivers to see if the print head settings are low and need to be increased. Low print head heat settings often are a problem when using resin ribbons since resin requires much more heat to liquefy than wax.


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