How do thermal printers work

How do Thermal Printers Work?

Thermal printers are handy tools for printing labels, receipts, and barcodes fast and without breaking the bank. In this guide, we’ll explain how thermal printers work and what features to consider when choosing the perfect one for your business.

What do you mean by a ‘Thermal Printer’?

A thermal printer is a special kind of printer that uses heat to make black text or pictures on paper. It works by heating a printhead and pressing it against a special paper or ink ribbon. This creates the text or pictures. Thermal printers are often used for making labels, receipts, barcodes, ID badges, and more in many different industries.

How Does a Thermal Printer Work?

How Does a Thermal Printer Work

To understand how a thermal printer works, you should know there are two main types of thermal printers: direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing.

1. Direct Thermal Printing

  • Uses heat-sensitive paper and doesn’t need ink or toner.
  • The printhead heats up and presses onto the paper, making it turn black when heated.
  • It’s cheap to maintain because it doesn’t need ink, but prints may fade over time.
  • You can only print in one colour because the paper determines the colour.

2. Thermal Transfer Printing

  • Uses ink ribbons pressed onto the printing material by the printhead.
  • The ink transfers onto the material and dries there.
  • Prints are less likely to fade and you can use multiple colours at once.
  • However, it needs ink ribbons which can increase maintenance costs and may have more operational issues.

| Do you wish to learn how to do ThermoTex Integration? This read will be worth stopping by!

Uses of Thermal Printers

Thermal printers are widely used across various industries due to their energy efficiency, speed, and portability. Here are some common applications:

Dry-cleaning and Laundry Business: Utilized for printing tags and labels for garment tracking and management.
Government: Utilized for printing ID badges, supply chain labels, emergency management, and admin purposes.
Manufacturing: Used for quality assurance, compliance labels, maintenance or parts management, and progress tracking.
Healthcare: Employed for printing labels for lab or pharmacy samples, patient wristband IDs, and asset management.
Retail and Hospitality: Used for POS or mobile POS receipt printing, inventory management, printing price tags, guest cards or passes, ID badges, etc.
Logistics and Transportation: Used for inventory management, shipping, receiving, packing slips, and return labels.

Top Benefits of a Thermal Label Printer

1. Cost-effective: Thermal printers keep costs low as they do not rely on ink to print.

2. Minimal supply replacement: No ribbons, cartridges, or other supplies need to be replaced to ensure continued use. Only the media is needed to keep the printer running.

3. Portability: These compact printers are portable and convenient to use on the go. A lightweight design makes them easy to take with you anywhere, whether in the office, warehouse, tradeshows, or on demos.

4. High printing speeds: Thermal printers offer quality results with high printing speeds. Expect smudge-free results that tend to be highly legible and long-lasting, with prints taking milliseconds to complete.

5. Low maintenance: Thermal printers have few moving parts, reducing the risk of breakage and making them easy to maintain. Thermal printer printheads last about 10 years on average.

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Making the right choices: How to pick the Thermal Printer by Model?

Once you know what you need from a thermal printer, you’ll find a variety of models to pick from.

The main difference is their size. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Mobile Thermal Printers: These are small, handheld printers that are portable and wireless.
They’re great for printing on the go, like in warehouses or rough environments. Look for durability features like waterproofing or temperature resistance. Choose this if you need something sturdy but lightweight.

Desktop Thermal Printers: These are a bit bigger than mobile printers but still compact enough for a desk. They come with wired or wireless connections and can handle moderate printing volumes. They’re reliable and low-maintenance, ideal for retail settings.

Industrial Thermal Printers: These are larger and tougher, built to handle heavy printing loads 24/7. They’re perfect for big operations like logistics or manufacturing. Some even come with advanced features like IoT software for easier control. Choose this if you need constant and reliable printing for a large-scale operation.

Make a Smart Upgrade by linking Axcess IT Cleantouch EPOS to Thermal Printers!

Thermal printers use special thermal receipt paper, unlike impact printers which use standard paper. Make sure to get the right width for your printer. If your printer isn’t working, try flipping the till roll. Thermal printers are popular for their quality and reliability, saving money on expensive paper. You can even print company logos on your receipts.

It’s great if you are already using an EPOS Till System. You can upgrade to a fuss-free chore by linking your Axcess IT Cleantouch EPOS with a thermal printer for better receipts. Feel free to drop an inquiry right away if you want an EPOS Till System installed first!


Should you invest in thermal printers?

If you need to print signs, shipping labels, barcodes, or receipts, consider using a thermal printer. Unlike inkjets, thermal printers are more portable and have lower consumable costs. Although they may cost more initially, you’ll save money in the long run due to lower consumable costs and better durability.

Are thermal printers ideal for colour prints?

Thermal printers utilize a monochrome printing method by heating specialized thermal paper to create images. Unlike inkjet or laser printers, they cannot print in colour. Thermal printing is typically used for tasks where colour is not required, like printing receipts and labels.

Do you need special papers for thermal printers?

Yes, thermal printers need special thermal paper coated with a heat-reactive chemical. This paper changes colour when heated, allowing the printer’s thermal printhead to create text or images. Regular paper won’t work and might harm the printer.

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