Problems You May Encounter With Thermal Transfer Printers And How To Fix Them

Posted on: 8 January 2018

Pound for pound, you should have fewer issues with a thermal transfer printer than a direct transfer printer. However, that does not mean that your thermal transfer printer may not act up over time. These machines operate similarly to copy machines of twenty years ago. They require heat and a binder substance to make the ink print stick and not smear. That said, the following examples are just a sample of the problems you may encounter with your thermal transfer printers, and how to fix them.

Smeared Print

Smeared print is a good indicator that the wax used for the thermal transfer process is low or lacking. The wax helps the ink stay put and prevents smearing. There are special wax print heads inside the machine that should be replaced as soon as you notice that your labels and printed materials are not coming out right. 

Look for the door on your thermal transfer printer that covers the print heads. Open it to check your print heads. If it appears as though you have almost no wax left on the print head spindles, it is time to change the wax print heads. You can buy extra print heads from the same place that you bought your thermal transfer print heads. After you switch out the print heads, attempt to print something. If the print is clear and does not smear, you have done this minor repair correctly.

Crunched and Jammed Materials

It does not matter what kind of printer you use; it will always find a way to crunch the printed material or get jammed. Just open the machine up and pull the jammed or crunched materials out of the print feed. Manually roll or feed the top of the clean and blank materials through. Then try to print as before. 

If this does not work, check to make sure that you have loaded the paper product correctly. Sometimes something as simple as an incorrect load can mess up the feed and jam up everything. Some printing machines require that you load the paper product under the print feed rollers, while other machines require that you load over the print feed rollers. Check your owner's manual if you are not sure.

No Print at All

If your machine begins spitting out labels or other materials with a waxy film over the top but absolutely no print of any kind, your machine is probably out of ink. These machines require ink cartridges, just like any other printer. Their ink cartridges are very unique, however, so you cannot use just any printing ink cartridges. (Many of these machines may use print ribbons instead, much like the old typewriters your grandparents used.) Order extra cartridges (or ribbons) when you initially buy your thermal transfer printers. That way, you should have enough ink for a while.

No Heat

Because heat is necessary to melt the wax and make the print stick, a thermal printer without heat is useless. This is very unusual. If your printer is printing, and the print is present but can be brushed off easily, check the printer heads. When you know that the wax printer heads are brand-new, pick the printer up. Touch the back, bottom, and sides of the printer. These areas should feel quite warm to the touch, if not downright hot. 

If you feel no heat at all, there is something wrong with the printer. What produces the necessary heat inside the printer is either broken, or needs to be replaced. In a situation like this, you have probably purchased a refurbished printer, or you have had this one so long that it no longer functions properly. It may be time to replace the printer.

For more troubleshooting tips, contact companies like Informs, Inc.