How a Thermal Photo Printer Works

Thermal printers generally are not mainstream printers, but many multipurpose printers and fax machines do use this technology. While they are not as popular as standard printers, these printers do have many advantages, and they may work well for many people.

How Thermal Printers Work

As the name implies, thermal printers use heat to create images. This can be done 2 ways: via heat sensitive paper or ribbon cartridges. Most older printers used heat sensitive paper that was rolled up inside the printer, and one section of it was then fed through a slot. As the printer head is heated up, it will transfer images or text onto the paper that was fed through it.

Modern thermal printers, however, almost always use ribbon cartridges. These cartridges have rolls of ink that is thick and sticky, almost like either wax or crayons. Paper is still fed through the printer.  Instead of sheets that get heated up, this ribbon gets heated up, causing the ink to almost melt into the paper. The paper rolls between the platen roller (creates an even surface for the paper) and the printer head, and the images and letter fuse with the paper.

Advantages of Thermal Printers

While most people consider these printers as specialty printers, there are some advantages to them. First of all, they are generally cheaper than standard printers, and they can be found at large box stores like Costco or Walmart. And, these printers are often on sale.

Besides the fact that they are inexpensive, they do not have a lot of buttons, and they are extremely easy to use. These would be great starter printers for children since they can quickly pick up how to use it.

This machine also works well for offices, including home offices, since it is extremely quiet. This means that it can be set up almost anywhere, and it won’t disturb other people in the office environment.

This printer works really well for standard text or black and white documents, and they generally print as fast as other printers.

Some Disadvantages

There are some drawbacks to these printers. For example, if the printer head gets too hot, it will transfer more ink than is needed. This could potentially turn costly if it uses up too much ink too fast. This also means that the print per page can be more expensive than the inkjet printers. But, users should just consider replacing the print head or getting the machine serviced. This will generally take care of the problem.

These printers do not print out as vibrant colors as standard printers. For this reason, you should no use them to print images or photographs since they will look dull or blurry.

Another issue with these printers is that the ink needs to dry a little longer than standard printers. If you pick up the printed page too fast, you could smudge the ink. Or, if you are printing more than one page, the ink can transfer onto the back of the previous page.