Improvements to Zebra Print Engines

Zebra printers from ID TechnologyA while ago, our friends at Zebra Technologies announced some improvements to their popular ZE500 print engine and they are now starting to arrive in the supply chain.

There are three improvements, two of which are now standard in new printers and one is available as an aftermarket part.

Extended Life Media Drive

The ZE500 has a quick-change modular drive system and the latest version has 33% wider belts – giving a much longer belt life.

The new module is compatible with all existing ZE500 printers so can be ordered to replace the standard module (which is being discontinued by Zebra). Belts for the original drive module will continue to be available – note that the new extended-life belts are not compatible with the original design drive module.

When ordering belts for your ZE500, be sure to order the correct ones for your drive module. The units are labeled as shown, to help you:

Make sure you order the right belt for your ZE500 printer

Labeling on ZE500 Print Engine

Ribbon Tensioning System

This is new system that uses different motors and PCB, designed to better control ribbon tension and improve print quality. Like the new media drive module, new printers have this as standard.

Parts for existing printers will continue to be available and upgrade kits can be purchased if needed.

Extended Life Printheads

Available for the 4-inch ZE500 only (both 203 and 300 dpi), this is a longer life printhead designed for direct thermal printing applications.

The new printhead has a thicker, more durable coating that resists the abrasion from direct thermal labels better than the standard printheads.

This new printhead can only be purchased as an aftermarket item and Zebra’s tests suggest that the extended life printhead can provide two to three times the life of the standard one.

What is Best for You?

Talk to us and we can help you refine your labeling systems to meet your exact needs. To get started, contact us today at 888-438-3242 Option#3 or you can contact me directly at We’ll get you in touch with one of our ID Technology specialists right in your area.


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