“Ribbon Out” – Zebra ZE500 Series Error

Target Audience: Basic User, Advanced User, IT Manager
Article #: 12666


Like most printers, the Zebra ZE500 series printers – including the ZE511 and ZE521 – have a sensor that keeps track of whether a thermal printing ribbon is installed in the printer. In addition to a “Ribbon Out” error message, the Ribbon light will turn on and the Error light will flash. The printer will also not print.

Printing in Thermal Printing Mode is the exceptioin. In this mode, the printer is directly interacting with the heat-sensitive label stock. To do so, the ribbon is removed. If the error occurs in this mode, follow the steps in this article.


The resolution to the issue depends upon the cause of the error:

In Thermal Transfer mode, the ribbon is not loaded or is loaded incorrectly.Load ribbon correctly.
In Thermal Transfer mode, the ribbon sensor is not detecting the ribbon.Load the ribbon correctly.
Calibrate the print engine.
In Thermal Transfer mode, media is blocking the ribbon sensor.Load media correctly.
Calibrate the print engine.
In Thermal Transfer mode, the print engine did not detect the ribbon even though it is loaded correctly.Print a sensor profile.
Calibrate the print engine.
If you are using direct thermal media, the print engine is incorrectly set for Thermal Transfer mode.Set the print engine for Direct Thermal mode.

For those issues in Thermal Transfer mode, please see the documentation available in this article for guidance on resolving the problem.

If you receive the error while trying to print onto direct thermal media, you will need to change the mode. You can find more information here and how to change modes is covered in the documentation here.

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