Cleaning A Thermal Transfer Printer

Cleaning a thermal transfer printer may be a mundane activity but it will save you money and downtime. We recommend that the print head is cleaned every time the thermal transfer ribbon or label roll is changed. The print head is the most expensive consumable on a printer and regular cleaning helps extend the operational life.

How To Clean A Printhead?

Step 1
The most obvious step, turn off the printer. So simple, but do not attempt to clean a thermal transfer printer, or any other electrical item for that matter when the power is still on, actually go ahead and unplug.

versawipe print head cleaning wipes

Step 2 – Release Print Head & Blow Off Dirt

Your owners manual will tell you where a lever is that will release the print head making the ribbon easy to remove. Open the print head carriage. Remove the ribbon and labels. This exposes the print head. Blow some air over the printhead and roller. This will remove any dry dust before applying a wipe.

Step 3 – Apply Wipe

The print head wipes that are conveniently stored next to your thermal printer make this really easy. Pop open the Versawipe tub and take one wipe, that’s all you need.

Using only your finger and the wipe – NEVER USE A SHARP IMPLEMENT – run the wipe firmly across the print head several times until you can see the build up or residue has gone. This residue is a carbon and dust mixture held in place with a little bit of moisture. It is important to remove this residue to help extend print head life.

At the same time wipe the platen roller.

Allow the print head to air dry for a minute or two.

Step 4 – Replace Ribbon and Label

Load your new ribbon. Press the print head unit in place and put the lever back to its original place.

Step 5 – Close Up & Test

Now close up and test the printer, with your new ribbon and freshly cleaned print head. Remember even if a printhead is designed to print a million labels it will burn out if not cleaned regularly. Get into good habits and clean it every time you change the ribbon.

General Tips For Cleaning Printers

Take great care not to scratch, scratching the surface means you will need a replacement. Remember gently but firmly wipe. Keeping a tub beside each printer with a reminder and some instructions is hugely beneficial.

For the ultra careful among you, removing jewellery and watches that could accidentally knock into any part of the printer is advisable.

Never use sharp, hard or abrasive tools to scrape, this will damage the print head, platen roller and cause premature failure.

If you have further questions, call 01440 712 273, or email