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What Is Thermal Printing: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that the first thermal printer was invented in 1965 by Jack Kilby? You might be wondering what is thermal printing, and don’t know where to begin finding an answer. Well, we have you covered with everything you need to know about thermal printing in our article below.


What Is Thermal Printing?

Thermal printers use a heated printhead in order to produce an image. With this process, the printer is able to create a high-quality print that is able to withstand more abuse than prints from a dot matrix or inkjet printer. 

There are two main types of thermal printers including, thermal transfer and direct thermal. 

Thermal Transfer

The thermal transfer option uses a heated printhead that puts heat on a ribbon and melts ink on the media of choice. The ink is then absorbed by the media and becomes a part of it. Thermal transfer will give you a high image quality that will endure most conditions. 

Direct Transfer

Direct thermal printers can create images on the printed material without using ink, a toner, or a ribbon. With a direct transfer, it uses a chemically treated media that turns black whenever it goes under the thermal printhead. 

With direct transfer, the media is more sensitive to abrasion, light, and heat. Because of this direct thermal is not the best option when making tags and labels because the images can fade over time. 

Why Thermal Printing?

For those that are printing barcodes on wristbands, stages, or labels you might want to consider using thermal printers because they will be able to withstand harsh conditions and moisture. Thermal managed print services will not disappoint you when it comes to application flexibility. 

Other printers are more likely to break in an industrial and dynamic environment, unlike a thermal printer. They usually lack the quality to produce a crisp barcode that can easily be scanned. 

Thermal Printer Models

The four types of thermal printers are mobile, desktop, industrial, and print engines. Mobile printers are great because they can meet your printing demands while you are on the go. They are lightweight and can connect wirelessly to your laptop or phone. These are a great option for healthcare, retail, hospitality, and transportation just to name a few.

Desktop printers are meant to fit in a small space or on a desk. They are easy to use and do not require a lot of maintenance. They are able to print a variety of wristbands, receipts, labels, and tags.

Industrial printers are best for applications in transportation, manufacturing, government, logistics, and healthcare for printing tags and labels. Print engines are mainly used in the manufacturing and shipping environment to produce a high amount of labels. 

Feeling Like a Thermal Printing Pro?

Now that you know what is thermal printing and the ins and outs of this type of printer you can make an informed decision whether or not to use a thermal printer. 

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