Thermal printers are totally different and distinct from your normal inkjet printers or even laser printers. These printers were introduced in the 1970s, the period in between the introduction of laser printers and inkjet printers to the world. Just as its name suggests, printers use heat to print on paper, rather than the usual printer ink cartridges used by other types of printers. It also has an interesting printing process that differs from regular printers. This process is one that is used by machines such as faxes, label printers, ultrasound machines and bar code machines. You may find more details about this at see the page.
Thermal printers contain four main components. The thermal head is the part that generates heats, while the rubber roller that feeds paper is called the platen. They also have a spring, which puts pressure on the thermal head, which then makes it come in contact with heat-sensitive (or thermo-sensitive) paper. They also have controller boards, which handles and controls the mechanism. Newer models of thermals use ribbon printer cartridges instead of normal ink cartridges to print.
Older thermal printers require heat-sensitive or thermal paper. This is inserted into the machine (between the thermal head and the platen). When activated, the printer sends an electrical current, which causes the printer to generate heat in a preset pattern. The heat of these thermal printers activates the heat-sensitive layer of the paper when the paper is pushed by the platen and a pattern of color (usually, black) emerges in response.
There are newer thermal printers now that go through a different printing process. These newer models use ribbon cartridges (instead of printer ink cartridges). The ribbon cartridges contain ink that is made of wax or resin or even a combination of both materials. This type of ink melts, when activated by heat, to form the text or images on the paper. These types of ink can also produce colored images using CMY or CMYK colored panels.
Thermal printers are used for many different purposes and in many different ways. They are sometimes even more economical than printers that use printer ink cartridges, since most of these printers only need heat-sensitive paper to print. The ribbon cartridges used by the newer printers are also more affordable than regular ink cartridges. They are usually found in cash registers, voucher printers, fax machines and even ultrasound machines.
But although they may be less expensive than their other counterparts, one disadvantage is that their printouts tend to fade over time. This is the reason why important receipts or documents printed using should be scanned or photocopied for posterity. The printouts of these printers are also of poorer quality than those from inkjet and laser printers. They still have a long way to go before they become comparable to the print quality of inkjet or laser printers but they are practical enough to be used for most businesses and commercial applications.