Thermal printers have been around for almost 20 years and work by heating specially coated paper in a selective way which causes the coating to turn colors producing a printed image. Some printers can create two different colors by applying different temperatures of heat. These types of printers are often preferable because they can print much quieter and faster than traditional dot matrix printers. There also the preferred choice by many businesses because they take up less room and use less power. Many businesses use these types of printers for printing receipts and they have become very popular for retail applications.
Thermal printing technology first became popular in the 1990s in fax machines. Since these machines do not use ink cartridges they are a very cost effective way of doing mass amounts of printing.
The special paper used in these machines and can be purchased for less than 10¢ a sheet. While the cost for paper used in traditional printers is much less expensive, the cost for ink can make the continued use of these printers much more expensive in the long term. These printers are often used as part of a point of sale system and use roles of paper rather than individual sheets.
Thermal printing technology delivers a high quality image that can be used with both paper and synthetic labels. The images that they create are very durable and can, theoretically, last upwards of 50 years. Some printers can print up to 12 inches a second; however, the cost for a printer can increase according to how fast it will print and its maximum dot per inch resolution. Multicolor printing with these machines can lead to a higher consumption of the thin plastic ribbons required for their use, but if the only need is for printing standard black text then they are often the most affordable option.
These machines are excellent for printing in high demand applications, and are especially well suited for printing packaging labels and receipts. Whether or not these types of printers fit the needs of a particular business depend a great deal on what the company is going to be printing the most of. These machines are not the best choice for printing high colored documents, but are the excellent when it comes to printing simple documents on a repetitive and extended basis. They have proven themselves to be durable and reliable machines that can offer many businesses an affordable way to do their printing.