Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to fix a TZ tape cartridge for label printer such as Brother brand

What do you do when "Fixya" just can't fix you? When "Yahoo Answers" doesn't? You come to me, that's right. And now another series in Things You Can't Find on the Internet.... TZ tape. Labels are very handy, are they not? You can label your drawers, cupboards, bins, and kids! (or their stuff). But what do you do when the label printer doesn't work and you just paid $15 for a new tape cartridge?
Fix it.
That's what I thought, at least.  I tried the internet, wasn't any help.... well the usual places weren't. So I went right to source. I tracked down the patent for TZ tape. If you want to look at the patent yourself, then go to uspto.gov and find #6,520,696 by Brother Industries LTD, Nagoya, JPY. Filed Feb. 18, 2003. Sheet 7 shows the money shot - the routing of the tape, toner ribbon, and laminate. In the picture above, I've separated the toner ribbon from the clear laminate so you can see it better. This is in the bottom of the photo, in the middle. This is where the printing magic takes place. The label printing machine uses heat to transfer some of the toner from the toner ribbon in a specific pattern (of a letter of the alphabet) onto the clear tape in this area. This is the area the print head makes contact. You see, I needed to know how the TZ tape cartridge worked so I could fix it. I lost one in the process, so here I am to save you money, and make your life easier.

In my case, the toner ribbon got caught on the clear laminate tape and started to come out inbetween the white tape and the clear laminate. You might have a different problem, but seeing how these things works will empower you to fix your labeling woe's. I personally cut the extra loose, but then the toner ribbon wouldn't go onto the takeup spool (its the grey one that you are supposed to wind up tight before you insert the cartridge - I didn't wind it enough, hence the 3 hours I've spent on this project!). So I fed it up and around on the clear plastic tape that is wound around the toner take up spool. (I used tweezers and pulled on the toner ribbon). When it was directly under the center of the blue colored circle in the photo above, I tacked on a little super glue, careful to make sure the tapes were centered on each other. That way I made sure it was on its way to the take up spool. And when I load it back onto the printer, I'll make sure its wound tight this time!
You might be wondering how I got the cartridge apart. That is the easy part! just cut the white tape on the side and remove the cover. Be sure the bottom of the cartridge (the part with the higher walls) stays on a table the whole time. It will give you stability so you don't jostle everything loose and have to play pick-up later. The only thing holding the cover on are pins that go into holes, and a snap clamp. This is located on the laminate spool and to undo it, simply insert a pair of tweezers from the bottom side and squeeze the clips together and push it up. Then carefully go around the perimeter, slowly lifting the cover off.


P.S. if these instructions are helpful, then please click on all the ads on my website. And/or leave a comment. I prefer the clicks though, I might see a few cents from that!

Check out the comments - they also offer additional information.  And if you have anything to add, please do.  Thousands of people will read it!

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82 comments:

K Jefferies said...

Yes, I have been sick and tired of this happening to me too!. It has taken me about 3/4 hour to fix because quite fiddly, but I have done it! Oh yes, I am also female and accomplished this.

Brian Ulrich said...

K, I'm glad this helped. Thats why I wanted to put it on the net. I was so sick and tired of it too. I hope that anyone can now fix their TZ tape problems - man or woman

Anonymous said...

Thanks much. Just got new unit, and lovely - included cart was hosed just like yours (ribbon broken). Took a bit to understand what was wrong, then landed here, all better now. I used Scotch tape instead of glue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brian!
I too had a broken toner ribbon which had stuck itself to the clear laminate.I searched for a while before discovering your fix instructions - the only ones I could find. I had it fixed within 10 minutes.
I also used scotch tape instead of glue to join the toner ribbon together, then carefully threaded through the guides and snapped cartridge back together.
Cheers!
Andy - Vancouver, BC

Anonymous said...

wow, that helped, you saved me from buying another 20 dollar cartridge. I had to waste some and missed the correct placment, but by the second time it was back to normal . NICE POST !

Anonymous said...

Exxxcellent! Clever you getting the patent...
Now to figure out how to reload these...

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch. My husband & I just got the tape fixed thanks to your excellent instructions & photos. Ordered mine from Amazon & didn't want to buy another one. Happy in San Antonio.

joeybaby said...

great stuff - these things aren't cheap. you'd think they'd make them better.
The patent diagram of how the tape moves made it really easy to work out. in my case the toner ribbon got stuck to the adhesive ribbon.

I used a scalpel to wedge it all open - fiddly but got there in the end.

thanks for posting this - i'm sure i'll be using it again from time to time.

Road Soda said...

I too just got one of these from Amazon and immediately got the toner tape stuck to the adhesive tape. A little office desk surgery and it was functioning.

Thank you so much for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Awesome stuff! My stupid labels work now thanks to your advice. I clicked all your ads. Hope that gets you a nickel or two.

Sharon said...

Thanks for these instructions!!

Anonymous said...

Toner ribbon snapped on mine too. Could not have fixed without these instructions. The diagram though should show three different paths - the tape, the laminate and the toner ribbon.

Anonymous said...

OMG-thank you. I finally got it to work!! About 45 min for me too. What a bunch of B*(^&%^#@

Chris Arnold said...

I used your guide and was able to rescue a broken toner.

What I did to re-attach the toner supply to the toner waste reel was to take all the old waste off, and there is a little clear piece of tape that you can then attach to the end of the new supply line.

Also, the photos are pretty low res, I might take some new photos with some annotation and repost them.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Omfg thank you so much totally saved my life. after like an hour of tring my own shit i find this and fixed in about ten minutes thank you thank you thank you!!!

dbarsi said...

Thank you so much! This was a huge help!!! I just knew there had to be a way to get in the cartridge and fix it.
You made this bookkeeper very happy!

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO MUCH for documenting your repair and posting it! I've have a FEW of these break, but today I was able to fix the latest one in about 30 minutes. Tiny parts, thin filmy ribbon make it a very fussy little repair.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. I had a different issue, but needed to see the inside of the cartridge and how each component winds in order to fix it. Your documentation of it saved me $25! Very much obliged!

Anonymous said...

My 3 year old decides the tape isn't coming out fast enough and pulls it. Toner ribbon rips away from take-up spool and angry father turns to the internet because the office supplies store is closed on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for this mate.

Paul Ulrich said...

Cheers to everyone who took a minute to post a comment and add something to the pool of knowledge. By the way, this page right here is THE source for fixing TZ tape cartridges on the internet, with over 2500 page views!

Anonymous said...

"the toner ribbon got caught on the clear laminate tape and started to come out in between the white tape and the clear laminate."

This is exactly what happened to me. When I contacted Brother support to ask how to rethread the cartridge, I was told to purchase a new one. This was not an option for me! Mine was brand new and these things are not cheap. So thanks a whooooole bunch for this post. I fixed mine and was printing again in less than 10 minutes.

You rock!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much . You saved my cartridge .. it took 10 mins but only after 20 minutes of deciphering the diagram. What is great idea to search the patterns for the design !!
Additionally I click on one of the ads and discovered a great outlet which I book marked

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! After this happened to 3 of my cartridges at work, I was determine to find a solution. You saved my $30 bucks since I saved the old ones and fixed them.

~Jamie

Josh Lloyd said...

Thank you so much for this blog post!! I also just bought this and it came with a broken ribbon. While I'm contacting Brother about a replacement cartridge, I can at least fix it until then.

Magatha-May said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Perfect tutorial.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that you took the time to post these pics and descriptions. I almost gave up on getting it apart, but finally got in there. I used a Q-tip to dap a bit of glue stick on the wheel since I didn't have super glue. Once open, it only took me about 10 min to fix. Tools used: razor blade, Q-tip, glue stick, tweezers, pliers. Thank you so much

LooMartinez said...

The interwebs will continue to be an endless source of information as long as people like yourself keep on contributing.

Like yourself I'm pretty handy, and while labeling my tools and various odds and ends my toner tape started to come out with the rest of the label. So I looked and found your article. It was the third one down in the search (not bad).

Anyhoo I read and learned. and after opening up the cassette I learned even more. Whole thing only took me about 10 minutes.

Tools used: small manicure scissors, super glue and a retractable blade and a mechanical pencil. CHEERS!

Alex Walker said...

Thanks for the great description so easily by pictures...well done..Keep It Up!!!

Visit this Brother printer support for more help.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!!
Brand new 1/2 black on white cartridge (although purchased 5 - 7 years ago) did not work today when opened. The black toner tape broke just inside. With your wonderful pictorial guide, I was able to fix it. It took about 2 labels to get a crisp one. Thanks for the effort to make and post the guide!
(the spools in my cartridge were actually configured a bit different) and I did accidentally drop the used toner spool, which unwound the new side, then I accidentally put the toner spool in upside down.. which did not work btw.. hahaha.. but got it fixed with just a bit more effort.
Thanks again!
Cynda

Leigh said...

Thanks for the instructions. My ink tape split inside the cartridge. I fixed it by simply using scotch tape to affix the two ends back together and rewound the spool. However, it would be awesome if you could post higher resolution pictures, using a flash. It's very difficult to see the ink strip in the pictures. Re-threading that was mostly guess work for me, but I eventually got it. Thanks again though!

The Devil's Element said...

Brilliant - great call to dig out the patent.

We had exactly the same issue with the toner trapped betweem the white tape and the laminate and I had cut it to 'fix' it - doh! Spent a few hours last night then woke up this morning, Google, found your post and within 20 mins we were good to go again. Thanks so much.

If I have to do this again (let's hope not), then I'll try to get some higher res pictures as I think this would be helpful. The diagram, however, is priceless. Well done again.

Anonymous said...

Clicked on your ads... thanks for the post

Anonymous said...

Briliant - I just repaired 4 broken tapes collected over the years, which cost 22.50 here. So that's 90 saved. Thank you for sharing this ! I wil now go and click on lots of ads ....

angel said...

Thank you for posting this! The diagram helped. The fix is 98% good... Bit squeaky, very short tail and ink fades here and there. But the tape is rescued.

In my first attempt the clear and white were not lined up completely so I opened cartridge again, tilted to show my husband and the ink spool fell out. LOL-- and you gave the heads up too.

Thanks again

Ed said...

I had problem with the clear film not aligning with the rest of the tape. I accidentally cut the ribbon trying to fix first time, not knowing what I was doing. It was a new cassette but damaged slightly during delivery. I have now rejoined with tape and rethreaded the cassette. It now works fine thanks to your invaluable information.

Jonathan S said...

Thank you...what took me 45 min without success prior to reading your post took me 5 minutes after reading your post!

9MonthProduction said...

Your first paragraph confirmed that I had found the right place. I had googled, and froogled and everything in between. Your blog was helpful. I too had to destroy a cassette to make sure I was going to get it right.. It was an old one, so I didn't care.

The ink had come out with the laminate instead of going back into the cassette.

Thank you for posting this. I know you spent your time to make this and I am grateful.

Michael K
Sacramento

Rio abajo Rio said...

Thanks a million for this. I was about to throw out the 22$ cartridge that one of our employees messed up and VOILA!!! Its as good as new with a little tape :)
Bless you !

Amanda Roth said...

Thank you sooo much for taking the time to do this I had one that was jacked up and it made another one goof up so I was out 40.00 until this. WORKS like a charm.

Amanda Roth said...

This worked wonderful. THANK you soo much.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article.. I tried pretty much everywhere on the web including Brother support and all they could offer was.. buy a new one!
I have now fixed mine and its working!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for going to the trouble of posting these instructions. The thing that upsets me however is that there is such a design flaw that makes this such a problem... I have had 3 of these very expensive tapes (3/4 inch wide) fail in this way in this past year... (I work in a library where we use them a lot) TZ or Brother or whoever makes these things should make a design change to make it less likely to happen... I will look for an alternative system next time as this is ridiculous.. Even now that I know how to fix it it is still madeningly difficult and I shouldn't have to do it!!!!!

Budman121 said...

This comment may be a little off the subject of tape cartridge repair, but has anyone experienced a slow and inconsisdant tape drive when printing lables, letters on top of each other no spacing and erratic printing, tried cleaning the drive rollers, exchanged the batteries twice, connected to ac power supply, all symptoms same, any suggestions?

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kagra003 said...

I have used my labeler for a long time without a clue as to it's printing magic. The rollers in my unit were stuck together and I screwed up several cartridges trying to force them into place. Today, everything is back in place except for the cartridges. Thank you so much for explaining EVERYTHING to me. Great job!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot! Ordered a new cartridge already but fixed the one that got entangled. Brand new and having problems like this. I used loctite super glue and dry in about 3 secs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting the effort into tracking down the patent and publishing this. Steve in Denver

Anonymous said...

thank you this worked great. i had a harder time opening the cassette than acutally fixing the toner tape, but its nice to see how it works for future references.
thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

Yea - your post was the only fix I found searching for this info.
Multi clicks on ads coming as a thank you

Anonymous said...

I had a new cassette bugger up after a dozen labels & I had opened it to try and fix it. Your article clarified what I needed to do to repair it. Many thanks. P.s. also had a sample one that came with the label maker and it wasn't working properly from the start. I repaired this & now have a spare for emergencies, thanks again

Anonymous said...

Thanks, always love when someone saves me $$!

Anonymous said...

Would you be able to help if the toner ribbon accidentally got cut off?

Paul Ulrich said...

It sounds like your toner ribbon got severed. I beleive you can overlap the two severed ends and crazy glue them together. Of course, move on to an unblemished portion of the ribbon by advancing the spool by hand.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, Thanks for your post. My cartridge was a little different but your post was the difference between success and failure.

Here, have a few ad clicks!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. From other posters you can see Brothers reaction is buy another one. What rubbish

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Thank you for posting this. I guess you find it awesome you still receive replies after so many years... The photos were not that useful as were low resolution but the patent sheet and your comments really helped. It was the ONLY help I found on the internet for this problem.
I bought a brand new device that didn't print anything. The black tape was tangled inside and attached at one end to the white tape. With your guidance I managed to repair it myself.
Many thanks again. Madi from Romania
And I also clicked on all adds from your website :)

Anonymous said...

Your instructions have saved the day for this otherwise DIY deficient girl! THANK YOU!!!!

Anonymous said...

Halleluja! Halleluja! Halleluja! I spent a couple hours late one night trying to get all the little rollers in place (each finally fell out at some point during the ordeal) and get the ribbon in right (as I thought I remembered it had been). Finally with all the rollers, spring locks, toner, tape, and laminate in a jumble I threw the thing in a corner of the desk and left it for a month. Today I found this site and in 15 minutes it was back to life and printing again! Your site gets bookmarked in the gold list (the one with the phone # of that Chase Bank rep in NYC, the one that's for rich folks who's kind and helpful to anyone who calls her)…that's a high honor! I'm off to click ya what I can. Thank you so much for helping…no way right now I could afford to pay for a new one.

DonShock said...

I've had to fix several TZ tapes on our ~10 year old machine at work. At first I couldn't figure out what kept causing the failure since the machine seemed to work right when I tested it. But within a few weeks the toner ribbon would get stuck between the laminate layers again, always when coworkers were using the machine.

I finally figured out the cause. Due to the machine's age, the cutter has become dull and the problem happens when trying to pull a partially cut label from the machine. Pulling the uncut label when the machine isn't turning the take up spool for the toner waste ribbon pulls the slack toner ribbon into the stick white ribbon and then you're in trouble. Holding the cutter arm against the tape to keep it from moving as you pull the partially cut label has almost totally eliminated this problem.

Also, during my repairs I just remove whatever waste toner ribbon is already on the grey take up reel and use a small piece of tape to secure the end of the newly freed up ribbon back to the reel.

Anonymous said...

Please add me to the list of grateful individuals! I love fixing things anyway, but I just didn't know where to start in this one (same issue as most - broken toner ribbon). I'm so thankful for generous people like you who take the time to post such things as this!

Anonymous said...

For P-touch PT-2430 PC using the TZe-2312PK (072Z stamped on cartridge) - there are 4 snaps holding the cartridge together beside the white tape. I used a awl to careful push pins back. Also, there is a tiny clear roller where the laminate meets the clear tape. Be careful it does not fall out (or lose it) and it aligns with the pin on top cartridge piece before you snap the assembly back together. Btw, thank you for posting this fixit & yes, I am clicking on your ads :-)

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Very helpful. I will click any add that comes up on your page!

DUSTIN SIMPSON said...

I purchased a Dymo Ryno to print on shrink tubing. The problem is Dymo only makes white and yellow tubing cartridges. There are other printers that use flattened rolls to print on but cost over a grand for the printer. Is there a way I can use other flattened heat shrink and load it myself into the Dymo Cartridge?

DUSTIN SIMPSON said...

Any way to load a Dymo Rhino heat shrink cartridge with a different color flattened tube from another company. Dymo only makes it in 2 colors, I need more. Any help is greatly appreciated!

DUSTIN SIMPSON said...

Any way to refill the cartridges? I have a Dymo Rhino that does heat shrink and dymo only makes 2 Colors. I would like to use a different color. Any help is appreciated!

Anonymous said...

You are the greatest! A good light, two tweezers, a small clamp, a small pair of scissors and some patience -- and voila! It's fixed. I thought it was a goner! Thank you so much!

DUSTIN SIMPSON said...

Anyone know how to reload a Dymo Rhino cartridge? I want to use a different color heat shrink that they do not have but is the same size.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done! Thank you. I am thinking this whole "internet thing" may catch on....

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Problem solved. Gracias.

Anonymous said...

God Bless you, just fixed my cartridge. For $24, and brother telling me I had to buy a new one, I am very happy to have found your page.

Anonymous said...

Very well done for posting the solution. I, like many others have resuscitated a new but useless cassette, thanks to your efforts.

Pat Patterson said...

Awesome - I googled 'Brother label printer labels coming out black' today, found your page and successfully fixed my cartridge. Like some others, Scotch tape did the trick - just needed to understand what had happened, that the ink tape had broken, and the path it should take in the cartridge. Isn't the Internet wonderful?

Anonymous said...

This was ingenius. I told my boss we needed a new machine but he would not give up. I found your info and he had the cartridge fixed in no time. You made his day, Thanks

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! I used a piece of the double stick backing tape to reconnect the toner tape that had broken.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post!! Second time was the charm (but I realized what I did wrong and why it got screwed up the first time, and I've a better understanding of how this machine works now). I'll try to remember to take up the slack when I put in a new cartridge next time (which was why the cartridge got screwed up in the first place). Great instructions for this work from home gal!

Anonymous said...

WOW Thank you so much!!!!! We were baffled on how the toner tape got in between the clear and the white. Awesome post, this was the only info I found on how to fix this. Thanks a million!

Maddie said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!! I had difficulty opening up the darn cartridge because mine had several notches all the way around. I'm surprised I didn't snap anything off! I almost gave up and bought an entirely new label maker!

Kimberly Weintraub said...

Thank you sooooo much! I just got a new label maker and immediately broke both included cartridges. Your instructions saved me from a return or spending more $$. Plus, it was fun to be able to fix it myself! :)
Much appreciated! -Kimberly

Anonymous said...

"Thank You" for posting this useful info for others: I had same issue with the toner getting caught in between too... on the 'new' $25 cartridge I bought today & was not only able to fix the new one, but noticed the 'old' one had same problem (I initially thought it ran out of ribbon) and fixed it too! Big help! Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi to all, I FIND WHAT IS THE PROBLEM!
In some compatibles taps the spring inside the termic tape (black in this case) don't have a sufficient power of retention, is not right charge. This produce thet the black tape is not tensioned right and the black tape is loaded from trasparent tape out!
If you change the inside spring whith a genuine you fix the cartrige, or in alternative yiou may deformate the spring for more tension.
My 2 cents.

Callum Marshall said...

Awesome, used this to fix a cassette where toner had gotten stuck and pulled out. Thanks!

Tui said...

Thank you!!! I also used this when the toner had stuck to the white tape

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