The Zebra ZT230 industrial printer offers an efficient way to print barcode labels. Its rugged design, speed, and print quality make it a suitable choice for printing in different kinds of settings and conditions. Although this Zebra printer is built to perform even in harsh environments, it can develop problems.

Errors with printing, ribbon and media, calibration or other problems can make this thermal printer difficult to use. Knowing how to troubleshoot common issues with the Zebra ZT 230 label printer can help ensure that it continues functioning at optimal print performance throughout its lifecycle. The following guide includes some of the most common issues with this Zebra label printer and what to do about them.

Common Zebra ZT230 Issues and Troubleshooting Steps

Whether you try to print labels and the printer doesn’t respond or the sensors aren’t working properly, these issues affect the performance and functionality of your Zebra ZT 230 printer. Knowing more about some of the common problems these printers can encounter and how to handle them can help restore your printer’s outstanding functionality promptly.

Issue: Blurred or misaligned text

If labels have blurred text or text that isn’t lining up correctly, this can happen for several reasons. From a dirty print head to damaged components, try the following troubleshooting steps to get your Zebra printer working again.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Check the printhead. A dirty printhead can lead to blurred or misaligned text. Try cleaning the printhead and trying to print again.
  2. Adjust print density. The density makes text lighter or darker as needed. Adjusting the print density might correct blurred text.
  3. Checking the alignment. Ensure that your media is properly aligned before trying to print again.
  4. Worn or damaged components. If none of the other troubleshooting steps solve this problem, your printer might need to have worn or damaged parts replaced.

Media or Ribbon Errors

Issue: Warning ribbon in

A “ribbon in” error occurs when the status light has a steady yellow light and the supplies light has a flashing yellow light. This might happen when the ribbon is loaded, but the Zebra printer is set up for direct thermal print. Go through the following steps to correct this problem.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Check that the ribbon is loaded correctly – Ensure it is properly loaded and perfectly threaded through the printer’s print head. Check that the ribbon is in the center of the print head and is not loose or wrinkled.
  1. Ensure that the ribbon type is correct – Use the right kind of ribbon for your Zebra ZT230 printer to avoid triggering a “Warning Ribbon In” error. An incompatible ribbon type can cause the printer to display the warning ribbon message. 

Zebra printers offer two printing methods: direct and thermal transfer printing. Direct thermal printing uses only a roll of direct thermal labels to produce prints. Thermal transfer mode requires direct thermal labels and a wax/resin ribbon to create an image.

  1. Replace the ribbon – If the printer ribbon has run out, replace it with a new one. Ensure the new ribbon is loaded correctly and threaded through the thermal printer.
  1. Clean the print head – If the printhead is dirty, ink can’t flow through the nozzles or the nozzles might clog. This can result in poor print quality, streaking, or even missing sections of text or images. A dirty printhead can also damage the printer over time if left unaddressed, leading to more significant issues that may require more extensive repairs or even a replacement printer. Use a lint-free cloth and a cleaning solution for thermal transfer printers to clean the print head.
  1. Check the ribbon sensor – Inspect the ribbon sensor on the printer to ensure it is clean and functioning correctly. The ribbon sensor detects the movement and position of the ribbon, which is necessary for the printer to apply the correct amount of ink to the paper. If the sensor is dirty, it may not accurately detect the ribbon, leading to misalignment of the ink and the paper, causing poor-quality prints or errors.
  1. Perform a printer calibration – Sometimes, performing a printer calibration can resolve the warning ribbon message. Refer to the printer’s user manual for instructions on how to perform a calibration.

Issue: Media out

When the ZT230 printer encounters a Media Out error, it means that there is a lack of media or the printer’s sensors cannot detect or properly sense the media (such as labels or tags) needed for printing.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Check Media and Ribbon Loading
    1. Refer to User Guide: Load the Media
    2. Refer to User Guide: Load the Ribbon
  2. Verify the correct sensor is selected. The Reflective Sensor is used for most media. 
  3. Verify the moveable Reflective Sensor is correctly positioned. Refer to Unique Label for more information.
  4. Try to default the printer and allow it to run auto-calibration. Refer to User Guide: Changing Printer Settings for more information.
  5. Perform Manual Calibration.
    1. Refer to: ZT230 Manual Calibration Procedure
  6. Verify the Maximum Length is set longer than the labels used. Refer to User Guide: Maximum Label Length for more information.

Issue: Incorrect label or ribbon size or type

The specific label and ribbon sizes you can use with the ZT230 depend on the maximum print width of the printer model you have. The ZT230 is available in different configurations with varying maximum print widths, such as 4.09 inches (ZT230-203dpi). Check the printer specs for more information. 

Troubleshooting Steps:

Here are the general guidelines to consider when selecting label and ribbon sizes for the Zebra ZT230:

  1. Label Size:
    • Ensure that the label width falls within the printer’s maximum print width specification.
    • The length of the label can vary based on your specific requirements, as the ZT230 supports continuous printing and can accommodate long labels.
  2. Ribbon Size:
    • The ribbon width should match the width of the labels you are using.
    • The length of the ribbon depends on the volume of printing you intend to perform. Choose a ribbon length that suits your needs and minimizes the frequency of ribbon changes.

Issue: Ribbon wrinkling

If the ribbon in your Zebra ZT230 printer is wrinkling, try the following steps to correct this problem.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Ribbon tension: Ensure that the ribbon is properly loaded and that the tension settings are correctly adjusted. If the tension is too loose, it can result in wrinkling. Follow the instructions in the printer’s user manual to load the ribbon and adjust the tension settings.
  2. Ribbon spindle alignment: Make sure that the ribbon spindle is properly aligned and seated securely. If it is misaligned or not positioned correctly, it can cause uneven tension and result in ribbon wrinkling. Adjust the spindle position as needed.
  3. Printhead pressure: Improper printhead pressure can also contribute to ribbon wrinkling. Verify that the printhead pressure is correctly set according to the recommended guidelines for your specific printer model. Adjust the printhead pressure if necessary.
  4. Check ribbon and media type: Using mismatched media and ribbon can result in the need for excessive pressure or darkness settings, which can contribute to wrinkling of the ribbon.

Calibration Errors

Issue: Sensor calibration error

Problems with media and ribbon sensor calibration can cause your Zebra ZT230 to not print. Check the following to correct calibration errors.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Manually calibrate the media and ribbon sensors.
    1. Press the Home key.
    2. Press the right arrow key to go to the Tools icon.
    3. Press OK.
    4. Press the right arrow key to go to Media Ribbon Calibration.
    5. Press Start.
    6. Pull the media or label material out. Remove around 6 inches of labels from the liner.
    7. Turn the gold printhead lever up to open the print head.
    8. Roll the media back to the printer until the backing is positioned between media sensors.
    9. Slide the ribbon to the right, so that it is away from the media sensors.
    10. Shut the printhead.
    11. Press Pause to start media calibration. The message “Calibrating, please wait” should show on the display.
    12. Wait for the display message to show “Reload All.”
    13. Open the printhead, then straighten the ribbon.
    14. Turn the spindle to the right, which removes ribbon slack.
    15. Move the media forward until the label is below the media sensor.
    16. Shut the printhead, then press the Pause button.
    17. Press the Home key twice.
    18. Press Pause to allow printing again.
  2. If manual calibration doesn’t work, try adjusting the label or ribbon feed.
  3. If the printer still won’t print after making label or ribbon feed adjustments, check the sensor alignment.

Printing Errors

Issue: Not printing

If your Zebra isn’t printing, the underlying problem might be connectivity issues, printer setting issues, firmware and driver issues, or damaged parts. Go through the following steps to get your printer to print again.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Check power and connectivity: Ensure that the printer is properly powered on and connected to the computer or network. Verify that all cables are securely connected. If using a network connection, confirm that the printer has a valid IP address.
  2. Verify print queue and settings: Check the print queue on your computer to ensure that the print jobs are not stuck or held. Verify that the Zebra ZT230 printer is selected as the default printer. Review the print settings to ensure they are correct, including paper size, orientation, and print quality.
  3. Updates to drivers or firmware might be needed in order to get your Zebra printer to print again. Check for available updates, and make updates to drivers and firmware as needed.
  4. Damaged or worn components might stop your printer from being able to print. If connectivity settings, printer settings, and firmware and driver updates have not solved the problem, have your printer checked for damaged or worn parts that need to be replaced.

How to Maintain Optimal Printer Performance

Keeping your Zebra ZT230 in good working condition involves several steps, from regular maintenance to access to support services. The following are steps to take in order to lower the risk of having issues with your Zebra ZT printer.


Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

All Zebra printers need regular maintenance and cleaning to remain in good condition and lower the risk of problems. Regular maintenance involves having these printers checked for issues and having parts tightened, replaced, or repaired as needed. Cleaning the print head and other parts on a regular basis also helps reduce the risk of having printing problems develop.


Proper Loading and Alignment

When placing media in your Zebra printer, make sure you load it properly. Improper loading can lead to print quality issues and print shifting. Ensure proper alignment so that one label is fed at a time. Keep in mind that you might need to calibrate your Zebra ZT230 printer if you encounter problems with alignment and print quality due to print shifting.


High-quality Media and Supplies

Using the right media and supplies, such as ribbon, can help keep your Zebra ZT230 from developing problems. Instead of using a generic driver, print head, or ribbon, choose high-quality supplies and parts. When it comes to the media you use in your Zebra printer, avoid low-quality label material. Choose high-quality media with the right label size for your printing needs.


Zebra Technical Support Resources

Being able to access Zebra technical support resources can help ensure timely troubleshooting for your printer. Consult the user guide for your thermal printer, which lists common issues and how to troubleshoot them. You can access the user guide online on Zebra’s website if you do not have a physical copy. Refer to this guide and Zebra’s other online resources for technical support.


Partnering with a Trusted Repair and Maintenance Provider

Having a reliable way to maintain your Zebra ZT230 industrial printer and ensure prompt repairs is highly important. Lexicon Tech Solutions is a repair and maintenance provider with expertise in Zebra printers, including the ZT230. Our expert technicians can quickly determine the problem with your Zebra printer and make repairs as soon as possible. We keep bulk parts in a warehouse, giving us easy access to replacement parts as needed. We also offer maintenance programs that can help extend the lifecycle of your Zebra thermal transfer printer. With a regular maintenance plan from Lexicon Tech Solutions, you can count on having reliable service for your Zebra printers.

From blurred print quality to failure to print, Zebra ZT printers can develop issues over time. With quick troubleshooting, these printers can become functional again, so that workers can print shipping labels, barcodes, and other labels without disruption. By using high-quality media and supplies, ensuring proper alignment, and having regular cleaning done, your Zebra printer can maintain optimal print performance. Partnering with a trusted repair and maintenance provider like Lexicon Tech Solutions offers the ideal way to ensure continued performance from your Zebra industrial printers. To learn more about our services, please contact us.