You have a thermal printer
at your point of sale counter for providing sales receipts to your customers. You know certain basic operations like changing the thermal paper rolls, etc. But do you know how a thermal printer works and how did the thermal printing technology revolutionize the world printing industry and in-turn the retail sector? It may be technical, but there are a few complex chemical and mechanical processes involved to achieve, what you witness today, lightning speed and reliable printing.
Thermal printers are widely used in retail sectors for printing bills, receipts, tickets, labels, coupons, etc.
Thermal printing, unlike the traditional ink-jet printing, produces printed images by selectively heating thermal or thermochromic papers. These are special type of papers which are coated with thermal chemicals on one side. The chemically coated paper changes its color when it get heated selectively on surfaces to produce characters/images. Some of the chemicals used for getting thermally printed images are leuco dyes, developers, sensitizers and stabilizers. Leuco dyes are also known as fluoran dyes and are chemically referred as tri-aryl methane phthalide dyes.
Some of the commonly used organic acids for thermal printing are Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS). Sensitizers are usually ether molecules such as 1, 2-bis-(3-methylphenoxy) ethane or 2-benzyloxynapthalene.
Sensitizers are used to help mixing of chemicals and maximize the colorization temperature to get improved printing quality. Stabilizers are nothing but complex multi-functional phenol acids that control re-crystallization property of developers and dyes. These are frequently used to stabilize printed images.
The right combination of chemicals depends on the printer and its manufacturer. It can be a combination of waxes, inert pigments, anti-oxidants and dyes. When chemical coated places are heated selectively, a threshold temperature is reached, which darkens the paper in those areas.
Thus, to get an optimum benefit of thermal chemicals, print heads are integrated with printing machines. Print heads help to apply heat in the right places to generate letters or images.
Advantages of Thermal Printers
One of the greatest advantages of the thermal printers is its unmatchable speed along with highly clean and readable print images.
Hence it is widely in demand for printing in retail stores and companies. Other plus points are: low maintenance cost, flexibility to use in wide range of applications, low noise and user friendly.
Also, the chemical-based thermal printing papers can be recycled. Since the printing images developed on the thermal papers are short lived, it can be recycled for future use, an environmental friendly feature.
According to a recent survey, though North America has been dominating the thermal printing market till now, Asia Pacific is expected to catch up and grow rapidly to become the leading market in the near future.
Countries such as India, China and Malaysia will witness exponential growth in thermal printing market, while Europe and other parts of the world are also expected to show substantial growth in thermal printing market in five years, the survey noted.