Do Thermal Printers Use Ink?

The term thermal means “relating to heat.” As the name suggests, the thermal printers work based on thermal (heat-based) Printing. A thermal printer uses heat and produces pictures and images on paper. It doesn’t need ink. To prove the same, the entire printing mechanism has to be understood. Let us discuss how thermal printers work.

Working principle of thermal printer

The thermal printer produces images by selectively heating the paper using the print head. The heated area turns black, thereby producing an image. The main components of a thermal printer are the thermal print head, spring and platen.

The paper on which the image has to be printed is inserted between the platen and head.

The printer sends current to the head, which in turn generates heat.

The heat produced reacts with the paper, and the stain shifts the image to the paper.

Thermal Printers

  • Color printing

For producing coloured output, the nozzles of the print head are provided with four different colours of ink.

The colours are magenta, yellow, cyan and black.

These colours, when mixed in correct proportions, can yield colour printing.

Advantages of thermal printing

« Saving

The budget thermal printer works without any ribbon and cartridge and saves investment. It is inexpensive and affordable.

« Easy to use

As it follows a very simple heating mechanism, it is easier to use and produce the required output.

« Efficiency

It works at about 250 mm/second. It is faster when compared to other printers.

« Long-lasting

They are highly durable in all situations when compared to the printers which make use of ink for Printing.

« Adaptability

Thermal printers can print even under adverse conditions. It is because printers using ink cannot provide the same adaptability in all weather conditions.

« Service

They are easy to maintain when compared to other printers which use ink.

Disadvantages of thermal printing

« Color yield

When compared to other printers, thermal printers cannot produce coloured output with high quality.

« Accurate Printing

As thermal printers use heat to produce images and documents, the overheated machine fails to produce precise output.

« Monochrome

Thermal printers are especially monochrome printers. When it comes to the case of colour printing, it uses more wax cartridges, and the quality is also not to up to the standard.

«Printing fades

The Printing produced by thermal printers is not long-lasting, as it fades away within a short span of time.

Hence, they cannot be used for printing important documents.

« Print head

As these printers use heat, the print head through which the heat passes can get damaged. This, in turn, keeps the owner to repair the print head often.

Applications of thermal printers

Thermal printers are most widely used in airlines, banking, retail stores and medical industries due to its cheap and affordable nature.

They are most widely used in printing bills and receipts, which don’t need much quality.


Thermal printers are inkless printers which are cost-efficient and economical. They are highly reliable for short-term Printing. Proper maintenance is essential to sustain the heat flow in the printer.