Zebra ZT230 Not Printing: Causes & Troubleshooting

The Zebra ZT230 printer is a part of the affordable Zebra ZT series of industrial printers, making it widely accessible. Designed in response to extensive customer feedback, this Zebra printer is user-friendly, requires minimal setup, and is easily serviced and maintained. Its small footprint makes it the right fit for any business. 

The ZT230 is the ideal printer for a variety of applications, including manufacturing, transportation, logistics, healthcare, and retail. It works well in environments that require frequent format or printer setting changes. This innovative printer model in the ZT200 series boasts durable design and requires minimal operator training.

You can expect top-notch performance, simplified remote management (perfect for slim or centralized IT staff), and easy integration from this popular printer. 

But every printer can encounter errors, and when your Zebra ZT230 won’t print, workflows grind to a halt.

Common Causes of Zebra ZT230 Not Printing

If your Zebra ZT230 won’t print, these are the 7 most common reasons why.

1. Wrong Media or Ribbon

Installing the wrong media or wrong ribbon type will result in print errors. Make sure both the media and ribbon are compatible with your printer before installing or attempting to print. 

Usable media options include continuous and non-continuous media and either direct thermal mode (no ribbon) or thermal transfer mode (using thermal transfer media and ribbon). Be certain to choose the right combination before printing.

If you choose to use continuous media, you must include a label length in your label formatting. If you are using gap/notch or mark for non-continuous media, the printer feeds media to calculate the label length. Specifying direct thermal mode or thermal transfer mode before beginning to print is key.

2. Print Settings

Incorrect print settings can cause printing issues, and certain settings could prevent the machine from printing altogether. 

Follow these print settings tips:

  • Make sure the print settings match the label size and type you’ve chosen. 
  • Set the print darkness to the lowest level possible to achieve a clear image and avoid barcodes that won’t scan correctly.
  • Print speed should be set to match the print job appropriately. Too fast of a print speed will cause printing malfunctions. A lower speed typically results in a clearer print job.

Label length and width settings are key as well. Setting the width too narrow will result in the image not being printed fully on the label. Set the maximum label length to at least one inch longer than the actual label length plus the interlabel gap. If you set the value to less than the label length, the printer will assume continuous media is in use and the printer will not be able to calibrate.

3. Print Queue Issues

Print jobs getting stuck in the print queue or disappearing altogether can be frustrating, but these issues can usually be resolved quickly.

4. Printer Connection Issues

Your printer must be properly connected to its power source and to your interface of choice, whether USB, wired ethernet printer server, RS-232 Serial, 8-bit parallel data interface, or  wireless printer server. 

5. Dirty, Damaged or Misaligned Print Head

A dirty, damaged, or misaligned print head is a common reason for printing errors in the ZT230 printer. Adhesive and residue can build up on the printhead and rollers, and dust and particles can inhibit the ability of sensors to work correctly. It may be necessary to replace a damaged printhead if it’s causing a printing error.

6. Misaligned Sensors

Printing cannot proceed when the printer’s sensors are misaligned. Inaccurate driver settings can cause this misalignment, or the printer may just need to be recalibrated. And remember to ensure all sensors are accurately positioned and ready for the specific label type you’re using.

7. Out-of-Date Firmware or Printer Drivers

It’s important to keep your firmware and printer drivers up to date. If you don’t, you’ll likely experience printing issues up to and including the inability to print.


Now that you know the top possible reasons why your Zebra ZT230 is not printing, it’s time to start troubleshooting. These 7 steps will resolve most printing problems on the ZT230.

1. Check media and ribbon.

Start by checking both the media and ribbon. 

  • If you use continuous media, you must include a label length in your label format. 
  • If you’re using gap/notch or mark for non-continuous media, the printer feeds media to calculate the label length. 
  • Specify direct thermal mode or thermal transfer mode before beginning to print. 
  • Direct thermal mode doesn’t require the use of ribbon, but thermal transfer mode does. 

Next, verify the media is installed correctly. To load media, lift the media door. To open the printhead, rotate the gold lever up then slide out the gold outer media guide. Flip down the outer media supply guide and slide it out. Place the roll of media on the hanger and push it back. Flip up the media supply guide and slide it in. Make sure the media runs inside the gap sensor and under the inner media guide. Slide the media under the gray damper and the print mechanism. Push the gold outer media guide in, being sure it touches the edge of the media. 

Next, place an empty ribbon core on the ribbon takeup spindle and push the core back as far as it will go. Place a roll of ribbon on the ribbon supply spindle with the open end falling down the right side. Slide the ribbon under the black ribbon guide and under the print mechanism. Wind the ribbon over the top of the core. Turn the spindle to the right to remove any ribbon slack. Rotate the gold printhead lever down and close the printhead. Press the pause button to calibrate the printer. Once you close the media door, you’re ready to print.

2. Test with a different application.

When a printing issue arises, take a break from your current print job and test the printer by running a sample of a different project. Change the label type and printer settings accordingly to determine if the issue arises with every print job or only with one specific type.

3. Clear pending print jobs.

Clearing your print queue is an easy place to begin your troubleshooting process. Doing so helps reset your printer so it can deliver a successful print job. 

4. Update printer drivers.

Keeping your printer drivers up to date is vital to print jobs running well. Updated drivers and driver installation instructions can be found at Zebra’s ZT230 printer support page.

5. Reset the printer.

To reset your Zebra ZT230 printer to its factory default settings, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the printer.
  • Press and hold FEED + PAUSE while turning on the printer.
  • Hold FEED + PAUSE until the first panel control light turns off. 

6. Calibrate the printer.

Calibrating the printer involves resetting media and ribbon sensors so they can accurately read the labels and provide an accurate print job. It is important to follow the calibration steps exactly. This video will help visually guide you in the process. 

7. Clean the printhead.

Inconsistent print quality or the inability to print can result from a dirty printhead. Consistently maintaining a clean printhead is a key part of printer upkeep. 

Note: allow the printhead to cool completely before cleaning. It may be hot and touching it could cause severe burns. 

When you’re ready to clean the printhead, follow these steps: 

  1. Open the media door.
  2. Rotate the printhead lever upward to release the print mechanism.
  3. Remove the ribbon (if using) and the media.
  4. Using a swab from your Zebra Prevention Maintenance Kit, wipe from end to end along the brown strip on the printhead assembly. If you do not have access to a Prevention Maintenance Kit, you may dip a clean swab in a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and deionized water. 
  5. Manually rotate the platen roller and clean it carefully with the swab.
  6. After cleaning, allow the solvent to dry and reload the media and ribbon (if using).

Anytime you’re performing tasks near the printhead, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety protocol. Remove all rings, watches, hanging necklaces, identification badges, and any other metallic objects that could touch the printhead. Though not necessary, Zebra recommends turning off the printer power when working near an open printhead.

Get Support from Lexicon Tech Solutions

If the troubleshooting steps above didn’t do the trick, it’s time to call in the pros. Lexicon Tech Solutions can help you resolve your ZT230 issues in several ways.

1. Maintenance & Repair

Lexicon Tech Solutions is ready to assist you with any and every Zebra ZT230 maintenance or repair need. Our expert technicians provide outstanding service to their customers and each is specifically certified to work on every device model they support.

2. Refurbish

Lexicon Tech can transform well-used equipment back to like-new standards of quality. Our highly-trained team of certified technicians will return your printer looking as good as new, without the full cost of new printers.Lexicon Tech Solutions is trusted by businesses nationwide. Our hassle-free and reliable services will make your job easier. Find out more about how we can help at Lexicon Tech Solutions.

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