Even almost half a century passed by after the breakthrough invention of thermal printing technology (1965), which made a clean sweep on retailers across the world, there are businesses in good numbers still continue to rely on laser jet printers for various purposes including barcode labeling.
In both thermal printing types (Direct and Thermal transfer), the images are embedded in the media. However, when you print with laser, you need to have a toner. With thermal, if you want a low cost option, you can use direct thermal technology to print the images on the media directly. On the other hand, if you want a higher print resolution, you can use thermal transfer technology where a coated ribbon is used to produce high-quality images on thermal papers. So,you have flexibility in terms of quality and cost. However, in the case of laser you don't have suchoption. Also, handling toner and cartridges can be difficult, problematic, messy, or frustrating. Since they come under hazardous substances, they require special disposal mechanism.
Print What You Need
Thermal printing enables business houses and departmental stores to either print single or multiple labels depending upon their needs. This is one of the major advantages of thermal technology compared to laserjetprinters.
In many grocery or pharmacy stores, shelf labels are preprinted using laser printers for making pricing updates and changes. Store assistants take the roll of labels and then climb up and down the racks removing the old labels and replacing with the newly printed ones.
Workers generally pull three or four labels off from the label sheet and then throw away the balance thereby wasting a huge quantity of media.
However, with thermal printer, you can print the labels right on the rack itself. There isalso no need to preprint labelsas you can just roll it out with a terminal, scan and printwhenever you want.
When you compare the two printing methods, an average thermal printer like Datamax-O'Neil's E-Class Mark III consumes about 3 ampere of current compared to laser printer of similar classification which consumes about 7 ampere, achieving an energy saving of over 50 percent.
The low energy usage of thermal printers is directly related to its design and technology. While in laser printers, more components are involved such as a heating drum, fuser and a laser, thermal printer uses only a heating element in the print head and a motor that keeps the paper moving.
Less space and more usage
With real estate prices going up steadily across several countries, space becomes premium for business houses. As desktop thermal printers occupy about a third of the space compared to laser printers, these models fit perfectly in small places such as retail counters, nursing stations or laboratories.
Rugged and powerful
Thermal printers are rugged and can print continuously for several hours while laser printers need breaks in between printing session. For example, the Datamax-O-Neil E-Class Mark III can print 99 inches on a 4-inch-wide media. Other thermal models can print even wider. However, in laser printers you can't load 99-inch material. Also, the paper loading is through back side which makes the process little complex in laser while for thermal one can simply need a source of continuous stock to feed to the printer.
Anywhere and anytime printing
Thermal printers have features such as wireless connectivity, Bluetooth or LAN capability which contribute to their portability. User can order print from anywhere in real time. With cloud technology, thermal printers experience even more technologically advanced as commands can be given from the remoter servers.
Cost-effective print solution
There is a general misconception that thermal printers are costlier than laser printers. This is however, not true.In reality, the cost of a basic model of thermal printer runs almost half the price of a laser printer having similar specification.
Moreover, the real savings of thermal printing solution lies in its long term benefits.Thermal printers have several advantages such as low upfront cost, low maintenance, less energy consumption, more productivity, and low wastage of consumables.
Ideal for adhesive backed media
Thermal printers are optimized to print adhesive backed media. In laser printers, due to high temperature adhesive bleeds from the label, which can cause sticky residue buildup inside the printer. This may cause premature damage to toner cartridge and fuser roller.