Abstract The inkjet printer offers an attractive feature set that fits well to the consumer’s needs at the low-end color hardcopy market. Better performance at a lower cost is and will always be the driving force for future product development. In this paper, an adaptive robust control is implemented to the media advance system in thermal inkjet printers to achieve designate objectives. Robust control guarantees the transient performance and final tracking error. The parameter adaptation also maintains asymptotic tracking. The experimental results indicate the excellent transient performance and final tracking accuracy.