Poor Label Quality on a Toshiba Printer – Thermal Printer Problem

Target Audience: Basic User
Article #: 9186


This article explores the problem of poor label quality caused by the use of an incorrect ribbon type on a Toshiba thermal printer. The wrong combination of any of the following can cause quality issues:

  • Printer (printer features, printer type, print head failure, dirty print head and/or platen rollers, DPI, etc.)
  • Printer settings (e.g. heat settings, head pressure, label feed, etc.)
  • Ribbon (wax, wax/resin, resin, near edge vs. flat head formulation, etc.)
  • Label stock (paper, polyester, thermal paper, etc.)
  • Software (drivers, fonts, printer setting overrides, graphic image type, etc.)


Using the wrong ribbon type (i.e. wax, wax/resin, and resin) for the label stock is the most common cause of label quality problems. However, in this case, the client used the same label type (i.e. resin) on both old and new labels. We discovered the problem was a mismatch of ribbon to printer head type (i.e. near edge).

Near Edge Printer Using Wrong Ribbon

Situation and Symptoms

  • Using a Toshiba thermal printer – B-EX4T1.
  • Print quality significantly declines after changing ribbon
  • New ribbon formulation type same as old ribbon (resin)
  • New ribbon from a different supplier
  • Label stock, printer settings, labeling software, all remain the same before and after ribbon change


Although both resin type ribbons, the old ribbon and new ribbon consisted of different formulations of resin. The manufacturer of the old ribbon (which printed high-quality labels on the Toshiba) formulated it for use with near edge thermal printers. This special formulation allows the ribbon to more quickly release the ink.

The manufacturer of the new ribbon intended its use with flat head thermal printers (e.g. Zebra, Sato, Honeywell, etc.). Ribbons designed for flat head thermal printers release the ink only after the print head sufficiently softens the ink so it can adhere to the label. Essentially, the label stock pulls the ink off the ribbon.

Although both labels were resin, when the client switched the ‘flat head’ ribbon for the ‘near edge’ ribbon, the flat head ribbon could not release the ink quickly enough. Therefore, the images appeared incomplete or spotty. See the image above as an example.

Flat Head vs Near Edge Thermal Printing


When restocking, make sure that the newly-acquired ribbon not only matches the label material (i.e. wax, wax/resin, or resin) but also matches the type of thermal printing (i.e. flat head versus near edge).

Contact us for help with label quality issues.


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