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Thermal printer

Thermal printer

  • July 10,2015.

Thermal printer

Thermal printing (or direct thermalprinting) is a digital printing process which produces a printed image byselectively heating coated thermochromic paper, or thermal paper as it iscommonly known, when the paper passes over the thermal print head. The coatingturns black in the areas where it is heated, producing an image. Two-colourdirect thermal printers can print both black and an additional colour (oftenred) by applying heat at two different temperatures.


Thermal transfer printing is a verydifferent method that uses a heat-sensitive ribbon instead of heat-sensitivepaper, but uses similar thermal print heads.

Howto print?

A thermal printer comprises these keycomponents:

Thermal head: generates heat; prints onpaper

Platen: a rubber roller that feeds paper

Spring: applies pressure to the thermalhead, causing it to contact the thermosensitive paper

Controller boards: for controlling themechanism

In order to print, thermo-sensitive paperis inserted between the thermal head and the platen. The printer sends anelectric current to the heating elements of the thermal head, which generateheat. The heat activates the thermo-sensitive coloring layer of thethermosensitive paper, which changes color where heated. Such a printingmechanism is known as a thermal system or direct system. The heating elementsare usually arranged as a matrix of small closely spaced dots—thermal printersare actually dot-matrix printers, though they are not so called.


The paper is impregnated with a solid-statemixture of a dye and a suitable matrix; a combination of a fluoran leuco dyeand an octadecylphosphonic acid is an example. When the matrix is heated aboveits melting point, the dye reacts with the acid, shifts to its colored form,and the changed form is then conserved in metastable state when the matrixsolidifies back quickly enough (a process known as thermochromism).


Controller boards are embedded with firmwareto manage the thermal printer mechanisms. The firmware can manage multiple barcode types, graphics and logos. They enable the user to choose betweendifferent resident fonts (also including Asian fonts) and character sizes.Controller boards can drive various sensors such as paper low, paper out, dooropen and so on, and they are available with a variety of interfaces, such asRS-232, parallel, USB and wireless. For point of sale application some boardscan also control the cash drawer.



Thermal printer used in seafloorexploration

Thermal printers print more quietly andusually faster than impact dot matrix printers. They are also smaller, lighterand consume less power, making them ideal for portable and retail applications.Its efficiency can be utilized in retail sectors. Roll-based printers can berapidly refilled. Commercial applications of thermal printers include fillingstation pumps, information kiosks, point of sale systems, voucher printers inslot machines, print on demand labels for shipping and products, and forrecording live rhythm strips on hospital cardiac monitors.

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