Those Pesky Wrinkles

wrinkled barcode


If you are suffering from a few lines through your labels or barcodes, the important thing to remember is that it is not necessarily due to a bad thermal ribbon or the type of ribbon you are using.

Those white lines through your labels and barcodes are wrinkles and can be caused by equipment or user error. THERE IS NO NEED TO PANIC! Much like David Letterman, Ganson has their own Top 10 List.


Ganson’s TOP 10 Reasons For Those Pesky Wrinkles


  1. Your Printhead Pressure is Uneven

Thermal ribbons tend to move to the side that will give them the less resistance. Make sure that your printhead is not misaligned.print-quality

  1. Uneven Printing or an Incorrect Label Design

Most people read from left to right and there is a tendency to design labels in that format. The problem with this design is that all your fields end up on one side. This kind of uneven printing can cause stress on a ribbon and the ribbon will wrinkle. What happens is every time you use the ribbon it is melting ink and transferring it to the label. When the base film breaks away from the label, the ink will cause stress on the base film.

  1. Uneven Media Sizes

Ganson recommends that the ribbon width should be ¼ to ½ inch wider then your label or label carrier. The reason for this is because ribbons that are excessively wider than the label can cause wrinkling. When printing, the label and ribbon are pulled through a printer using a platen roller. If a ribbon is too wide, it can be pulled faster on one side and slower on the other causing wrinkles on the label.

  1. Evenly Matched Media Sizes

For much of the reasons listed above, if the media is the same size as the ribbon then the platen roller does not have anything to hold onto and can cause shifting and wrinkles.

  1. Printing Speed is Set Too Fast

When using a fast speed on a printer, some things that seem to be set correctly will start to cause wrinkling. Pay special attention to the torque of the media spindles. When the spindle is turning, it is actually turning at different speeds on the gear side than it is on the open side. If you are going at a faster speed the difference between speeds will show on your printed media.

  1. The Heat Setting is too High

One of the ways that someone can cause the ribbon base to stress and melt is by printing with a heat level that is too high. The ribbon ends up stretching or shrinking in the printed areas. Make sure that you set the temperature to the lowest setting for the ribbon and labels to eliminate most of the damaging effects of high heat levels.

  1. Dirty Printhead

clean smIf you notice that you are experiencing a poor print quality and/or wrinkling, one of those reasons may be due to a dirty printhead or a dirty printing path. What happens is that a ribbon will stick and pull unevenly on adhesive buildup on a printhead or print path. This can also happen when labels are sticking to excess adhesive. To ensure that this is not an issue, use a Ganson Thermal Cleaning Card to clean the printhead and printing path before each media change.

8. Platen Rollers Not To Par

A Platen Roller is usually made from rubber and should be slightly tacky and is located under the printhead. The platen rollers actually pulls the media through the printer. The roller needs to be smooth and level. Over time, the platen roller will wear more on one side than the other side due to uneven label thickness or uneven printhead pressure. The uneven roller causes “walking” labels or ribbons which will cause wrinkling.

  1. Incorrect Media Guide Settings

With any printer, there are guides that keep the labels from moving left to right or vice versa. If you load labels and do not properly adjust these guides then the ribbon moves and causes wrinkles.

  1. The Spindle Tension is not correctspindle

There is a spot in the printer that takes up the used portion of a ribbon and that is called the spindle tension. The spindle tension does not pull the ribbon through the printer, it merely retrieves the used portion of the ribbon. It is important for the spindle to keep the same speed and torque as the platen roller. If not, then there is an additional pull on the ribbon. If there is additional pull on the ribbon then you will experiencing scuffing and wrinkling.


If you are still experiencing wrinkling after going through Ganson’s Top 10 Reasons for Those Pesky Wrinkles, then please feel free to call a Ganson University “Professor” and we will be able to help you determine the reason for this malfunction.



1x1-Printing-Supplies 1x1-thermal-printing 1x1-Check-Printing


Your dollars, your choice, Ganson will deliver.


800- 434-9011