A Brief Buying Guide: The Different Kinds of Thermal Printers and How it Works

thermal printerPeople generally define printers as machinery that transmits consumables, commonly toner or ink, to paper. These days, however, a distinct kind of printer has been introduced. Thermal printers are a type of machine that doesn’t require any kind of consumable. Instead, it uses 3-D, dye sublimation, or foil. The one consumable that these require is a specialised thermosensitive paper.

The Process

Rather than setting toner or ink on paper, the head of thermal printers produces heat. It would then apply the heat onto the thermosensitive paper in the outline that it needs to be printed. On the portion where heat is applied, the treated paper goes black.

There are thermal printers that can print in two colours: black and another tone, generally red. These colours are generating by exerting heat at varied temperatures. Meanwhile, the thermal transfer printing method uses a ribbon that’s sensitive to heat as an alternative to the heat-sensitive paper.

The Different Types

Fax machines were probably the first thermal printers available and there was a time when millions of these were available in offices around the globe. The thermal printers of today, however, have advanced in many ways that it exceeds the typical functions of fax machines.

Here are the different kinds of thermal printers:

  1. On-demand labels
  2. Barcode printers
  3. Information kiosks
  4. Retail and grocery receipts
  5. Slot machine vouchers
  6. Gas pump receipts

Do keep in mind that the above list is only part of what thermal printers can be used for. Possibly the two most typical uses for thermal printers are label and receipt printers. These printers can cost around $70 or even go beyond $2,000. Of course, it will depend on different factors, such as versatility, speed, and volume.

Commonly, these devices are only capable of doing one function and that is to print a particular kind of label or form. More often, these are used in hectic work environments where they don’t have extra time for extensive media replacement processes.