How Does A Thermal Printer Work [A Complete Guideline]

Today, printers come in a whole range of different types. Each type fulfills the distinct type of printing requirements. As thermal printers are not home or office printing machines, we hear little about their use. Thermal printers are impressive machines in the business and industrial sector, where large sale receipts and labels are regularly printed.

In this post, we intend to acquaint our readers with thermal printers. 

The purpose is to disclose the benefits of using thermal printing technology. Further, as the uses of thermal technology are vast, this should be a guide to how a thermal printer works.

What Is A Thermal Printer?

Thermal printers print labels, barcodes, receipts, etc. with the exertion of heat on heat-sensitive, color-coated thermal paper. The process of thermal printing is digital, whereby images print selectively on the thermal paper as it passes on top of the print head. In thermal printing, the heat burns the image containing thermal dye and prints the image.

How Does a Thermal Printer Work

The media in a thermal printer is the factor that makes it special. The special media react with the temperature and with heat allows the transfer of the image. The process is known as “thermal printing.”

Benefits Of Thermal Printing Ink

Thermal printing is a common method in the business and industrial sector where receipts, barcodes, and shipping labels are printer to meet large-scale orders. The prints are durable and of high quality. It is resistant to climate stresses, UV light, and oils. As it a not an inkjet system, there is no smudge. Thermal transfer printer and thermal transfer printer are also cost-effective as there is no need to replace cartridge or tone.

What are the Kinds of Thermal Printers?

Three kinds of thermal transfer printing allow the industrial printing of receipts, airline tickets, barcodes, shipping labels, banking transactions. The two technologies involved in thermal printing are inkjet printing (TIJ) and transfer overprinting (TTO). These two technologies keep the cost of production and packaging within the affordability of the retailers and consumers.

There are several categories of these thermal-operated industrial printers. Let us see three of these kinds.

1. Industrial Type Thermal Inkjet Printer (TIJ)

The mechanism involves the use of heating elements to create force in ejecting inks at a high rate. It prints onto flat cartoons and bottles at low ink use making legible prints. A significant advantage is less cost per print by this inkjet type printer for manufacturing packages. Examples of such inkjet thermal printers are Foxjet Solo Series and Matthews MPERIA L-Series.

The efficiency of the Foxjet Solo Series is apparent in printing 200 ft. Per-minute of text and accommodates 5 rows of text per inch. The Matthews MPERIA L-Series has a printing resolution of 600 dpi.

What are the Kinds of Thermal Printers

2. Industrial Type Thermal Transfer Overprinting (TTO)

This type does a selective print on a ribbon using selective heat designs. The TTO works best for highly glossy substrates and codes items by date. This packaging label runs fast. Linx TTO model line and Daikon FlexPackPro are the two popular thermal label printers of the TTO type.

Application of Labeling and Printing System

This system of labeling and printing, thermal printers are very much integrated. The integrated system leads to cost reduction by cutting down overproduction and removal of the installation of ribbons by hand. The system is energy efficient, simple, and cost-effective as there is a low overhead cost.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Thermal Printers

When you want to buy a printer, it is always good to find out the advantages and disadvantages. This will help to make a wise choice.

benefits of thermal printer



Advantages of Thermal Printer

  1. Suitable for industrial and business purposes.
  2. Creates very little noise, therefore comfortable to use.
  3. No need for cartridge or toner thus reduced maintenance cost.
  4. High speed of printing.
  5. More durable than other printers.
  6. Clear and efficient printing.
  7. Compact and portable, lightweight, and easy to carry anywhere.
  8. Simple to operate.
  9. Increased efficiency with the use of the software.
  10. Prints many items such as barcodes, thermal shipping labels, stickers, cards, and more.
  11. Prints are shiny and crispy with no smudges.
  12. Many models are available at an affordable cost.

Disadvantages of Thermal Printer

  1. Does not color print, unlike other printers
  2. Special papers are short-lived.
  3. The cost of thermal printer paper is high.
  4. Injury of the print head requires replacement, which is costly.
  5. Paper requires preservation at room temperature.
  6. Labels fade. 
  7. Too high heat may turn the image completely black.
  8. The image is not of very high quality.

Also Check: How to Print Photos Using Photo Paper


Thermal printers are great for printing labels efficiently in less time. The lightweight machines are quite durable with less need for replacing the parts. All you need is to be careful with the print head, which may melt because of over-heating. These heat-pressed thermal transfer printers transfer images at a high speed; therefore, you can visualize the efficiency of output for industrial purposes. The affordable cost of the printers is a matter of attracting customers.

Although there are disadvantages, the pros of the thermal printer outweigh the cons. In the manufacturing business, thermal printers are ideal for printing in a variety of media. With this background information on how a thermal printer works, and the advantages it has on printing labels; it is easy to choose a good brand.


Alice covers platforms, policy and big tech at Printer Reviews. Prior to rejoining here, Alice was Senior Technology Editor of the TechDen. Alice first joined PrinterReviews in 2021. Before joining, he was the Tech Editor of the Daily Dot and a reporter and deputy editor at ReadWeb.

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