How to Fix a Broken ID Card Printer Ribbon

How to Fix a Broken ID Card Printer Ribbon

The first thing you need to know if you encounter a broken ID card printer ribbon is DON’T throw it away. Even if it’s torn and wrapped around the main card roller that’s under the print head, it can be salvaged and repaired so you can continue printing with it.

Here’s what you need to do if your ribbon breaks:

  1. Pause your printing job (if you have something in the queue).
  2. Turn off your printer.
  3. Open the cover and unlatch the print head.
  4. Remove the cartridge containing the ribbon. There will be 2 spools, the ribbon supply on the right side and the take-up spool on the left side. Make sure to note which side is which so that you can reinsert them in the proper place.
  5. If the ribbon is stuck to the main card roller or stuck to a card, pull the card and the ribbon out. Make sure you clear your printer completely of cards and torn ribbon.
  6. Lie the spools on a flat, clean surface with the torn ends facing each other.
  7. Trim the torn ends so that you get a fairly straight edge.
  8. Overlap the two edges, and using only scotch tape (no duct tape or electrical tape), tape the ends together. You can tape directly over used ribbon, if that’s what is available on the take-up spool.
  9. Reinsert your print ribbon cartridge in its proper position, latch the print head, and close the cover.
  10. Turn the printer back on. Your printer should automatically recalibrate itself to position the ribbon at the color position you need to continue printing.

You should be clear to resume your printing session. If you continue to have ribbon breaking problems, here are a few tips to check before calling our Technical Support team:

  • Design Issues. Check your design. If you’re using a direct-to-card printer, they’re not designed to print anything over the edge of the card. You may need to move or resize your images to keep your design away from the edge.
  • Driver Issues. Reset your driver to the default setting. This may have been changed, causing the temperature to increase, making it too hot for your ribbon.
  • Debris Issues. Checks for rough edges on your cards, especially if you pre-punch cards with a slot punch before printing. This can cause burrs that can tear your ribbon. You should always print your cards first and then slot punch them.
  • Intensity Issues. Sometimes when you’re using 100% of a color at the edge of your cards, it can burn your ribbon if the card doesn’t fully absorb the heat. Make sure your printing intensity isn’t too dark.
  • Cleaning Issues. Clean your printer using the cleaning kit designed specifically for your model. You can find cleaning kits on the IDSecurityOnline website here. We also have a wonderful blog post on cleaning your ID card printer here.

If your ID card printer ribbons continue to break, it may be time to schedule a maintenance appointment. IDSecurityOnline has expert technicians who are specifically trained to work on your printer model. You can increase your card printer’s lifetime output exponentially by having our technicians perform routine deep cleaning, calibrate the sensors, and replace your printer’s roll.

Since calibration tools and factory training are required, it’s best to contact our experts today to have your ID card printer professionally serviced if you continue to have problems.