Blank Labels (No Print) when attempting to print using a ZM/ZT Series Printer

Article ID: 52999396




• Print request always results in a blank label
• No print or image on the labels
• The printer looks like it is printing but the labels are blank

Note: This solution does not apply if the printer is producing an image on some of the labels. If this is the case, assure the printer is properly calibrated or verify your label size in your application or driver are set correctly.  Read More>> If there is a faded image of partial print then this is likely a print quality issue  Read More>>

Applies To 

ZM or ZT Series Printers that fail to print or produce an image as expected

Overview or Cause

The printer uses heating elements to heat ribbon (if used) for ink transfer or heat a direct thermal label to produce an image. A failure to produce an image can be a result of the following:

The printhead has debris or a stuck label preventing heat transfer

The Darkness or Burn Temperature is too low

The wrong media is used in a Direct Thermal application (non-ribbon)

The media and ribbon are not properly matched (if using ribbon)

The ribbon is inked on the wrong side (if using ribbon)

The label format is printing off the label


Common issues and Resolutions


Problem Corrective Action


Prints labels but then skips or issues blanks






No print on the labels

 Using Ribbon (Thermal Transfer)

  • Verify the printer is loaded correctly Read More>>
  • Check the ribbon is inked on the correct side Read More>>
  • Verify the ribbon and media are properly matched
Not using Ribbon (Direct Thermal) Application
  • Verify the labels are Direct Thermal by rubbing your nail across the label  See a video>>  The labels must have a heat sensitive coating to produce an image.


For all applications

  • Clean the printhead assuring there is nothing stuck to or blocking the heating elements Read More>> 
  • Try increasing the Darkness from the LCD Display (Not ZT220).  Read More>> 
    If selftest labels print but when printing from the application the problem reoccurs check the driver/software configurations.
  • Print a Pause Test label. Read More>>  If the printer prints the selftest labels verify your application and/or driver is properly configured for both the darkness and label size being used.
  • Default the printer and allow the printer to recalibrate 
    Defaulting the ZM Printer Read More>>
    Defaulting the ZT Printer Read More>>



Helpful Information

Media and Ribbon

Zebra recommends the use of Zebra media and ribbon but it is not a requirement. 

Thermal Transfer applications ribbon and media should be properly matched to allow acceptable print quality in the application without having to use excessive burn temperature and printhead pressure. In addition, the durability of the label image is impacted by the media and ribbon combination. Check with your supplier to assure your media and ribbons are properly matched.   

Direct Thermal application that do not use ribbon, require labels with a heat sensitive coating. Use only quality media that has been approved for Direct Thermal printing since these labels come in direct contact with the printhead. Improper media or the composition of flood coats can quickly damage a printhead requiring expensive replacement. 

Test Labels

The printer can produce test labels that will verify the printer is functional or provide printed copies of the printer settings.  Read More>> You can print these labels independent of your label application and driver helping to determine if the printer or application are the cause of the issue.



Print head cleaning  Read More>> When cleaning make sure there is nothing blocking the printhead heating elements. Labels have been known to peel off and become stuck to the printhead. 

How It Works

The printer uses a printhead that contains a row of small print elements that are heated as the labels (media) and ribbon (if used) pass the print line. When using ribbon (Thermal Transfer) the heated elements cause the ribbon ink to melt and transfer to the label surface. When ribbon is not used (Direct Thermal) heat sensitive labels are required and produce an image when heated.


+ Product Codes

  • Z Series Industrial Printers
  • ZM400
  • ZM600
  • ZT200 Series Industrial Printers
  • ZT210 Industrial Printer
  • ZT220 Industrial Printer
  • ZT230 Industrial Printer
  • ZT400 Series Industrial Printers
  • ZT410 Industrial Printer
  • ZT420 Industrial Printer