105SL Plus Ribbon Overview

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Understanding the Ribbon on your Zebra 105SL Plus

Ribbon Overview

Ribbon is a thin film that is coated on one side with wax, resin or wax resin, which is transferred to the media during the thermal transfer process. The media determines whether you need to use ribbon and how wide the ribbon must be.

When ribbon is used, it must be as wide or wider than the media being used. If the ribbon is narrower than the media, areas of the printhead are unprotected and subject to premature wear.

When to use Ribbon

Thermal Transfer media requires ribbon for printing while Direct Thermal media does not. To determine is ribbon must be used with a particular media, perform a media scratch test.

To perform a media scratch test, complete these steps.

  1. Scratch the print surface of the media rapidly with your fingernail.
  2. Did a black mark appear on the media?
If a black mark… Then the media is…
Does not appear on the media Thermal transfer. A ribbon is required.
Appears on the media Direct thermal. No ribbon is required.

Coated Side of Ribbon

Ribbon can be wound with the coated side on the inside or outside.

This printer can only use ribbon that is coated on the outside. If you are unsure which side of a particular roll of ribbon is coated, perform and adhesive test or a ribbon scratch test to determine which side is coated.

Adhesive Test

If you have labels available, perform the adhesive test to determine which side is coated. This method works well for ribbon that is already installed.

  1. Peel a label from its liner.
  2. Press a corner of the sticky side of the label to the outer surface of the ribbon.
  3. Peel the label off the ribbon.
  4. Did flakes or particles of ink from the ribbon adhere to the label?
If ink from the ribbon… Then…
Adhere to the label The ribbon is coated on the outside and can be used on this printer.
Did not adhere to the label The ribbon is coated on the inside and cannot be used in this printer.

Ribbon Scratch Test

Perform a ribbon scratch test when labels are not available.

  1. Unroll a short length of ribbon.
  2. Place the unrolled section of the ribbon on a piece of paper with the outer surface of the ribbon in contact with the paper.
  3. Scratch the inner surface of the unrolled ribbon with your fingernail.
  4. List the ribbon from the paper.
  5. Did the ribbon leave a mark on the paper?
If the ribbon… Then…
Left a mark on the paper The ribbon is coated on the outside and can be used in this printer.
Did not leave a mark on the paper The ribbon is coated on the inside and cannot be used in this printer.

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