What To Know Before Buying A Thermal Printer

There are many printing technologies that can be found in the market today, with each one serving an ideal market niche. What distinguishes a printer that uses thermal technology from other kinds of printers is its ability to use heat to seal the ink onto the paper that it is printing on. A printer head,, an ink ribbon, a rubber roller and a roll of specialized thermal paper generally comprise this kind of printer. Similar to a thermal fax machine, the printer head heats up the ink ribbon which is treated with a polyester film backing to print the string of requested text onto the paper. The paper is pushed ahead by the rubber roller where the heated ribbon is pressed against it to print the requested character string. What makes a thermal printer work so well is the speed at which all of this is accomplished, printing areas of 6-12 inches per second.

Regular ink-jet and laser printers use a different kind of ink, as thermal technology uses an ink that is made from either wax or resin, or a combination of both. There are different shelf lives for each variant so make sure to choose one that is appropriate for your printing purposes. The cheapest variant to purchase are ink ribbons made of wax, but will only last for about two years once they have been printed. In case they are important, receipts from point of sales terminals that use this kind of ink should be scanned or copied for safekeeping. If you are looking for a much more durable variant of ink ribbon, a combination of wax and resin is best, especially if printed on fine-toothed paper, as well as papers that are coated with a film coat. Still, the printed product should not be exposed to damp environments and strong chemicals. Resin ink ribbons are the most durable of all ink ribbons but are not made for use with conventional point of sale printers and are instead made for use with plastics.

Point-of-sale terminals and bar code printing for inventory tracking purposes are the most common application for printers that make use of thermal technology. When kept in storage, the ink ribbons of a thermal printer should be protected from both damp environments and strong chemicals. Ink ribbons should also be kept away from heat, light and moisture as they can be sensitive to such environments. While thermal printers make for efficient and cost-effective printing solutions in sales and inventory applications, the print quality falters when compared with ink-jet and laser printers. The inability of these printers to vary dot size or intensify the printed document results in a grainy product and is only recommended for specialty applications, even though colored inks are now available in newer thermal printing technologies in a segment that typically had only black inks.

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