Getting the ribbon torn on your ID and badges printer can be frustrating. Doubly so if it keeps on happening. There is a temporary solution that people often do like taping together the torn ends and advancing the ribbon forward; however, this is risky for two reasons. One, the taped section is not 100% secure and is very likely to tear apart again, and, two, improper ribbon use may lead to more problems with your printer, prompting you to repair or replace the equipment prematurely.
Before you dive in on how to avoid tearing issues with your printer ribbon, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the most common reasons why this problem happens in the first place.
Why Ribbons Break
A lot of things can cause a printer ribbon to break. Some of them are things that you might not even know affects the quality and performance of your printer. The following are what our experts typically deem the root cause of this problem.
Your ID card printers, especially its interior components, are sensitive to dust and dirt. Oil and grease from your fingertips as you operate the printer can also muck up its processes. In small amounts, they can cause little issues, but over time, they can build up, resulting in serious problems like ribbon tearing. It’s recommended that you clean your card printer every time you change your ribbons. Make sure you use genuine cleaning kits from its manufacturer to avoid further damaging your unit.
Direct-to-card printers have limited ability to print images full-bleed, that is, over the edge of the printing medium. Bleeding prints are usually only done by retransfer printers. If you try to print full-bleed on your direct-to-card printer, it could cause the ribbon to break and tear.
The ribbons on many card printers can handle certain levels of temperature, especially when applying colors to a card. However, if you have recently made changes to your color intensity, it could heat up the ribbon too much, pushing it over its limit and causing it to tear. Color intensity can be controlled in your settings, but the exact location of these settings depends on your manufacturer. Always consult with your printer technician before you change any color setting on your printer.
Regular wear and tear is a problem for almost all types of equipment, and card printers are no exception. Even printers who are not used often or have stood unused for extended periods can still be prone to common wear and tear issues. It’s necessary to recalibrate ribbon sensors regularly, according to the specifications of your manufacturer. You can find this information in the manual or by calling their technical support.
Avoiding Ribbon Problems
It’s incredibly inconvenient to have the ribbons on your ID card and badges printer tear, especially when you’re in the middle of a printing project. Unfortunately, it’s a very common problem, and printer technical support call centers are often inundated with plenty of calls about this issue. Luckily, ribbon tearing is as avoidable as it is common. Following the recommendations below can help save your project from printer delays and eliminate a lot of time and headaches on dealing with ribbon problems.
Now that you know how printer ribbons can break, it’s easy to know what steps you can take to avoid the issue.
Check your user manual about how to properly clean and calibrate your printer. Cleaning and calibration should be done regularly. In fact, you should do it every time you change your ribbons. If your printer has stayed unused for some time, always clean it first before using it again. Make sure your cleaning kit is approved by your printer’s manufacturer. Using general cleaning kits can harm the internal mechanisms so make sure your kit is genuine.
After cleaning your card printers, take the time to calibrate its sensors. The way to do this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so check the manual for the correct calibration method. Calibration is needed for both the hardware and the software of your printer. Always make sure you’re updated to its latest firmware version to prevent compatibility issues that could cause hardware trouble like ribbon tearing.
Next, double-check what kind of printer you have. Retransfer printers, or reverse transfer printers as they are sometimes called, are the only ones that can print to the very edge or even over the edge of cards. If you have a direct-to-card printer, make sure your printer template is adjusted to the correct print settings. You can check this on the interface of your printing software. If you’re thinking about doing a full-bleed print on a direct-to-card printer, you can either use a bigger template or adjust the size settings on the software accordingly. Forcing a direct-to-card printer to do this job will break your printer ribbon.
Overheated ribbons can be avoided by making sure you don’t change the color intensity on your printers. If you are unsure if these settings have been changed, you can always reset your printer to its factory settings. The way this is done is also different from manufacturer to manufacturer, so check your user manual for the correct way to restore its original settings. Note, however, that whatever presets and preprogrammed settings you made will be deleted and “forgotten” by your printer if you decide to reset it to its factory settings. It will be as if your printer is brand new out of the box.
Good Printer Maintenance
Routine maintenance is the best way to ensure your ID card printers are always in good working condition every time you have a large print project you need to finish. Cleaning, calibration and, sometimes, resetting, are just some of the ways you can maintain your printer and avoid its ribbons from tearing, along with a number of other common problems.
Another good printer practice is to avoid printing over an ID card that has already been printed. These cards are designed to only have one print on them. Printing over the card will not give you more vivid colors. It will only overheat the card, cause the colors to run and potentially tear your printer ribbons.
However, sometimes, even with good maintenance and regular cleaning, your printer ribbons can still break from other unknown reasons. In these situations, it’s best to contact your printer technician to fully determine the cause of the problem. In older models and older printers, ribbon breaks can become very common, and the whole unit might be due for a complete overhaul or replacement. If this is the case, then you should go ahead and order new printers to avoid further delays in your project.
For all your ID card printing needs, our helpful professionals at Solutions ID Online are more than happy to help you out. Give us a call at (888) 804-3227, or fill out our contact form and request a free estimate on new card printers and other related equipment today.