Unlike traditional printing mechanisms, which use a ribbon to apply ink to surfaces, direct thermal printing uses heat sensitive paper that produces an image when it is heated. The thermal print head heats parts of the paper selectively to produce symbols, images and barcodes. Thermal transfer printers, on the other hand, do use ink as well as heat.
Since many people don’t know how thermal printers work, let alone these other fun facts, we thought we’d share a few more details about thermal printers.
1. Thermal Printing Is Taking Off
Demand for thermal printers is blowing up, in large part due to the growing demand for printable labels and barcodes in the desktop, mobile and industrial retail industries. This growth chart shows the actual and predicted growth from 2012 to 2020, in which time the use of thermal printers is estimated to nearly double. In that time, the majority of their use is predicted to remain confined to industrial applications.
2. Thermal Printers Make Labels Crisp
Okay, this is one fact you likely did know if you’ve used thermal printers before. Unlike traditional printers, which apply ink to paper – whereupon it bleeds and runs – thermal printers confine ink much more effectively. That’s why they are so frequently used in applications where a crisp, clean image is necessary.
3. Barcode Issues Mean You Need Repairs
Unfortunately, even when you use the best technology, barcode issues do crop up from time to time, usually when your printer needs service. If you begin to notice your barcodes look fine but don’t scan, read poorly much of the time, read fine for horizontal barcodes but fair for vertical barcodes, have incorrect width, are smeared or generally aren’t performing their duty, it’s probably time for maintenance.
Unlike other industries and applications, you can’t eke by with outmoded or broken parts, because your barcodes will simply stop working, making it impossible to do your job. If you notice any of these problems, call in a repairman today.
4. You Can Use Two Colors
Although thermal printing is automatically relegated to very functional uses (such as barcodes) due to the fact that the printed products are usually only available in black, it is also possible to get two-tone thermal printers. They use paper that can be heated to two different temperatures, one of which products black and the other red.
5. They’re Applicable to a Variety of Industries
No matter what kind of business you run, chances are you have a use for thermal printers. They are helpful in warehouses, street parking meters, retail stores, theaters, sports arenas and venues, hospitals and parcel carrier industries. Any industry that relies on scanning will benefit from printed labels whose bars and characters remain crisp and clear over the long haul.
Still wondering about thermal printers or printer repair? Be sure to call in the experts next time you’re looking to purchase a new system or update an old one.