How Does a Thermal Printer Work? | TechReviewera

Thermal printers are meant for convenience in faster and cost-effectively printing receipts, labels, and bar codes in a set of locations or on the go. So if you want to know more about How does a thermal printer work? Keep reading this valuable post to look at key features to find a suitable model for your home or office. If you are Looking for Best HP Printers Give it a Look.

What is the thermal Printer?

A thermal printer is a device. Specifically, a printer works with a heated thermal print head pressed paired with a medium to create black texts or images. The heated print heat either transfers solid ink from a ribbon and bonds it to the specific medium or activates with special chemically treated paper; it all depends on the printer used. Are you Looking for the Best Printer for Stickers?

These printers are specially used in printing receipts, barcodes, labels, ID badges, and many other applications in various businesses and industries.

Working on thermal printer

To discover the working of a thermal printer, you should know that thermal printer comes in two types, direct thermal printing, and thermal transfer printing.

Working on thermal transfer printer

Instead of direct printing on the surface of the printing medium like direct thermal printing, the print head of the thermal transfer printer presents a wax-coated ink ribbon on the surface of the printing medium.

The wax will be melted, exposed to the ink, transferred to the printing material or medium, and dried out. The main benefit of thermal transfer printing is that the images and prints are less prone to fade over time than the direct printing process. You can print many color options with the use of multiple ribbons. Check this Also, How to Do Sublimation on Hats?

As with introducing different types of ribbons in this printer, the cost of replacing them is very high, and the maintenance cost can also be higher. With more loving components in this printer, the operational issues can also be more in this printing method though they are still durable and reliable. 

Direct thermal printing

In the direct thermal printing yields, ink, toner, or ribbons are not used. The thermal printer comes with a thermal head that applies direct pressure and heat on the surface of heat-sensitive thermal paper. However, the reaction occurs in thermal paper and heats the printer head blackening on heating and thus creating text or image.

In direct thermal printing, the maintenance cost is relatively more minor as compared to other kinds of printers because there is no involvement of ink or toners in it. One drawback of this printing type is that images are very much prone to fading as thermal printing is very sensitive to heat and light.

You might have noticed that the old receipts you have are an example of printing by a thermal printer that becomes faded over time. Additionally, while using thermal printing, you have only one color option at the time of printing as the printing material determines the print’s color.

Uses of thermal printers

There is a wide variability of uses and applications of thermal printers in businesses, offices, and educational purposes. The reason lies in their energy efficiency and fast and easy transportation. Here are some of the uses of thermal printers in different industries; let’s have a look at them:


The use of thermal printing is going on trend in maintenance and parts of management, labels for compliance, quality assurance, and progress tracking

Transportation and tracking

Packing slips, inventory management, shipping, receiving, and return labels

Health care

Lab or pharmacy sample labels, patient identification wrist bands, and asset management


Emergency management, supply chain labels, ID badges, and system administration

Retail and hospitality

Guests’ cards and pages, price tags, POS or mobile POS receipts, ID badges, and inventory management

Pros and Cons of Thermal Printers

If you are confused about determining a thermal printer that is worth it for you, look at the pros and cons of this unique and valuable printer.

Pros of Thermal Printer

The following are valuable advantages of thermal printers:

Keep the cost low

Thermal printers are worth to invest because these printers do not work with the ink for printing. Cartridges, ribbons, and other accessories can be replaced in time of need. The medium is only sufficient to keep the printer in a running position.

Portable and convenient

These printers are easy to use and carry as they are so lightweight that they can be easily transported to any place you want. So easy to use that you can use them in homes, warehouses, trade shows, demos, and offices too.

Quality results and outputs

With the use of thermal printers, you can quickly expect smudged free quality results in images that try to be highly legible and long-lasting that cannot fade over time and need milliseconds to print

Works with few moving parts

Since the thermal printer works with few movable parts, there is less chance of breakage and repair, so they are easy to maintain. The print heads of thermal printers can last about ten years on average.

Cons of thermal printers

Now, look at the downsides of the thermal printers:

Prints fade over time

The prints of the thermal printer can fade with time when exposed to direct sunlight, and heat can speed up this reaction. Even the labels kept and stored in boxes can fade over time. To make them long-lasting, these prints should be kept at room temperature

It turns an entirely black color

This aspect can cause you to lose the critical data and information if you have not saved the records elsewhere. So it is the best option to save the labels at room temperature and should not expose to moisture, sunlight, and heat.

It uses only one color

The most commonly used is black printing, while the red color prints might be available to replace papers on labels. Thermal transfer prints offer different print media and more colors.

Costly prints

Thermal prints come in the higher price range, like up to $300 to $ 400, while the thermal printers used for industrial purposes can go up to thousands in costs and maintenance. The spare parts of these printers are also costly for replacement, and print heads can get damaged due to more heat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Thermal printers do not need ribbons, ink, or toners. The print head applies pressure and heat directly on the surface of the heat-sensitive thermal paper.

The key disadvantages of thermal printers include that these printers are expensive, need thermal papers for printing, color limitations, and prints fade with time.

Thermal printers are not only restricted to printing labels but can also print on plastic, composite materials, and receipt papers.


So if you have analyzed the working of thermal printers, uses, advantages, and disadvantages, thermal printers can help your organization the most. However, thermal printers come with some disadvantages, too, even though these printers are great inventions. All the downsides in the thermal printers are solvable but always be a good investment and more advantageous at the end of the day.

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