How do thermal printers work?

Thermal printers are mostly used in receipt printers and industrial situations. The concept behind this type of printer is relatively simple, but very efficient for the areas where they are used. There are two types of thermal printers, and they work differently. Understanding how they work can help you to pick the right one for your situation, and know what to look for if something goes wrong.

Heat Sensitive Paper

The older of the two options works by putting heat sensitive paper into the printer. When a print job is sent to the printer, it will heat up special components within it. When ready, the printer will roll the paper over the heated elements, which come into contact only in the areas where the image needs to be. This can produce a surprisingly accurate image when the paper reacts. This type of thermal printer is much less common today but can still be found in some facilities. You can only have black and white print jobs with this option.

Ribbon Thermal Printer

The more modern option uses ribbons that have a waxy material on them. When printing, paper is fed into the printer, and a heated print head and roller applies pressure onto the ribbon and paper. The melted waxy material is then bonded with the paper, creating the image that is needed. This option can have a variety of colors, and even multiple colors in one print job.

Advantages of Thermal Printers

Thermal printers are often less expensive than ink jet or laser printers. They also very simple in the way they are used and do not break down very often. Thermal printers are also much quieter while in use than most ink jet printers or even laser printers, though those options have become quieter in recent years. In some situations, the thermal printer is really the perfect option.


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