What Is Thermal Paper?

By Sabah Karimi

  • Overview

    Retailers and merchants who use credit card processing software, point of sale systems and label generator machines often use thermal paper and thermal printers because of the cost benefits. Thermal paper rolls can be inserted quickly and easily into the thermal printer, and the printed products are typically of a higher quality than standard dot-matrix printers.
  • Purpose

    Thermal paper is designed to be used in credit card terminals, point of sale systems, ATM machines and other applications that generate receipts or printed forms. Application-specific thermal paper rolls are also available; these may be used to create bar codes, high-quality labels for merchandise or printed labels for shipping. Companies that want to print high-resolution images such as logos or other graphics may also use thermal paper instead of standard paper to achieve a higher-quality print.
  • Features

    Thermal paper is covered with a chemical substance that changes color when it is exposed to heat. Most vendors and merchants use a basic black dye for printing with thermal paper, but other coatings such as blue, green or red may also be available for colored receipts. Paper rolls are available in a variety of sizes. They can be purchased directly from paper supply and office supply stores around the world.


  • Types

    Thermal paper rolls can be bought in several sizes and formats for use in thermal jet printers. The most common types of thermal paper are available as: colored rolls; heavy paper rolls; 1-ply receipt paper rolls; 2-ply receipt paper rolls; and 3-ply receipt paper rolls. The width and diameter of the rolls range between 1 inch to 5 inches to fit a variety of printer styles. Most retailers and merchants can buy thermal paper rolls by the case.
  • Benefits

    Thermal printers are capable of producing colored printing projects as well as monochromatic prints; the ink used on thermal paper typically dries quickly and lasts for several years. The protective coating on thermal paper also reduces the risk of coating the thermal print heads during the printing process, which means the thermal printer can last for several years. This type of paper is a versatile type of printing paper that can be purchased in rolls and reams and loaded into a printer with ease.
  • Considerations

    Even though thermal printing is much more efficient than dot-matrix printing, the paper and printing supplies can be significantly more expensive than standard printers. However, thermally printed text can last for more than 50 years and is relatively water-resistant. This makes it a much better choice for outdoor printing and other venues where the receipts or labels may be exposed to the air or inclement weather conditions.
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