Thermal printers may seem a thing of the past for many who have become accustomed with laser and inkjet printers in recent years. Thermal printers do, however, continue to be used by many sizable operations within both the manufacturing and logistics sector. This is partly due to the low initial investment and little ongoing maintenance they require.
As a leading manufacturer of both thermal transfer and direct thermal printers, BIXOLON works with organisations around the globe to find the perfect solution for them, whether it be for simple barcoding, compliance labelling or small parts tracking. However, many organisations still turn to expensive and high maintenance printing solutions due to them knowing little about thermal alternatives and the benefits they can offer.
In this article, we’ll delve into the technicalities of thermal printing and what separates it from alternative solutions. We’ll also explore what you should look for when shopping for a printer, whatever your budget and requirements.
What is a Thermal Printer and How Does It Work?
The first of these components in a thermal head, which is the primary component for generating heat and produces the image on the thermal paper as it passes over. The thermal head selectively heats areas of the paper, dependent upon what has been inputted into the printer, and turns the special coating located on the thermal paper black. When a printer supports additional colours, such as red, the thermal head will produce two different temperatures to determine which areas of the image are black and which are coloured.
For the thermal head to make contact with the thermal paper, a spring is required. This component is simple in nature and ensures that the thermal head sits appropriately on the paper to create a clear image without any severe damage being caused to the paper.
Another important component within any thermal printer is the platen, a rubber roller that feeds paper into the device itself. This platen is like that found on most laser printers and ensures that the paper is feed into the printer straight and therefore produces a high-quality and straight print.
Finally, for each of the previously listed components to work in synergy a controller board is necessary. It is this board, which works similarly to a computers mother board, that provides the user interface displayed on the printers’ screen, manoeuvres the various components and warns of any issues.
Which Thermal Printing Solution is Right for You?
The thermal printer market is one of huge variety. In fact, BIXOLON alone manufacture and sell a wide collection of thermal transfer and direct thermal printers. Each of these printers are designed for different uses and offer varied levels of technical capabilities.
The BIXOLON DLP-T400 printer, for example, is ideal for those in search of a simple yet reliable desktop printer for barcode, QR and labelling requirements. Our SLP-TX400, on the other hand, features our Smart Media Detection technology. This helps detect the media being used and alter the printing accordingly.
For most organisations the most important consideration is the compatibility a chosen printer provides and the wired connections it offers. This is as a lack of WLAN connectivity could be the difference between your printer working with your existing system or not. Finally, selecting a thermal printer ensuring that it works with the various programming languages, including SLCS, is wise.