How To Replace a Printer Ribbon

Even in the twenty first century, the dot matrix printer is still a very useful device for a number of people and a number of situations. For older companies whose databases are connected to operating systems that can only work with dot matrix printers or for those who need specialized printers that can handle carbon paper, the dot matrix is still a viable option. One of the frequent problems encountered, however, is replacing the printer ribbon.

  1. Determine the ribbon type. To replace the printer ribbon for a dot matrix printer, one of the first things that you should do is to determine the type of ribbon that your printer uses. In the past, before laser and ink jet printers rose to fame, there were a wide variety of dot matrix printers that were used in many offices around the country. Because of this, there are also a number ribbons that were used for different types of printers, such as the Hypercom ribbon, the okidata ribbon, the tally ribbon, and labels ribbon.
  2. Remove the cover. Once you have identified the correct ribbon for use, simply remove the cover of the printer to reveal the print head. There are gears and pins near the print head that connect that spool of ribbon. Just like on typewriters, you will need to remove the ink ribbon from the pins and loops that hold the ribbon in place. Only when the ribbon has been disentangled from the gears can you begin to remove the spool from the printer. There are several pins and tacks that keep the spool in place. Gently unlatch these parts and slide the spool from the larger needles that keep it in place. Replace this with a new ink ribbon.
  3. Reattach ribbon. Re-threading the ribbon to the holes and loops inside the printer is slightly more difficult, but you will only need to retrace the steps you had taken in removing the ribbon earlier. Once this is done, you can put the printer cover back on, and restart the printer. Try to run a test page on the printer to see if the printer ribbon was connected properly. If the machine does not work, open the printer cover again and make sure that the ribbon has been fitted into all of the loops, in the proper order.  If the ribbon has missed some of the loops, it will not function properly and may restrain the print head from moving.
  4. Keep stock. While dot matrix printers are relatively sturdy printers that can withstand years of use, the printer ribbons are usually much more difficult to find. Because of this, you should try to keep stocks of the ribbons, since many computer supply shops no longer provide printer ribbons for dot matrix printers. If there are none available near you, try searching on the web, or try contacting your printer manufacturer directly to check if they still produce stocks. Otherwise, you will have to ask a printer specialist to refill your ribbon with ink.

Once you have replaced the ribbon, go ahead and enjoy the benefits of your sturdy, old-school dot matrix printer.


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