Thermal Printers

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Thermal printers are becoming more and more popular in the business world. They are known for fast printing speeds, low maintenance, and high reliability. But with new technologies come new questions.

Here are some frequently asked questions about thermal printers.

What are Thermal Printers, and How do They Work?

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Thermal printer is a generic term used to indicate a printer that uses heat to print images onto print media. 

Thermal printers have a thermal print head, which is a component that generates heat and transfers it onto print media. This heat causes a reaction in the print media, resulting in the desired image being printed. 

Unlike other printing technologies like inkjet or laser printers, thermal printers do not use cartridges or toner.

Read our article on how a thermal printer works for a thorough explanation of how thermal printers operate.

What Are the Types of Printing Technology Used by Thermal Printers?

There are two types of thermal printing technology.

  1. Direct Thermal
  2. Thermal Transfer

Our article on direct thermal vs thermal transfer printing will provide you with a comprehensive comparison of the two printing technologies.

Direct Thermal vs Thermal Transfer

How Can You Choose the Right Thermal Printer for Your Needs?

Before purchasing a thermal printer, it is important to consider your specific printing needs. Consider factors such as required label volume, print speed, print method, connectivity options, etc. Our thermal printer buyer guide will help you in making this decision.

Can Thermal Transfer Printers Also Print Thermal Direct Labels?

Yes, thermal transfer printers can print on direct thermal labels.

However, before you use direct thermal labels in a thermal transfer printer, read our article can you use direct thermal labels in a thermal transfer printer.

Can Thermal Printers Print on Clear Labels?

Yes, thermal printers can print on clear labels.

Can Thermal Printers Print White?

No, technically, thermal printers cannot print white.

But as thermal printers use heat to print images, they can achieve a white appearance by not transferring any heat onto the designated white areas of the label or paper.

Can Thermal Printers Print Stickers?

Yes, thermal printers can print stickers. For printing stickers, you will need to purchase a special thermal sticker paper roll.

Please make sure to read the specifications of your thermal printer and sticker paper roll to ensure compatibility before printing.

Do Thermal Prints Fade?

Yes, all thermal prints will eventually fade. The lifespan of thermal prints depends on the type of thermal printing technology used and the conditions to which the print are exposed.

In general, direct thermal prints fade over time, especially when exposed to sunlight or heat. On the other hand, thermal transfer prints have a longer lifespan and are more resistant to fading.

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How Long Does Thermal Printing Last?

There is no set answer for how long thermal printing will last. The longevity of the print depends on various factors, such as the type of thermal printing technology used, the conditions to which the print is exposed, and the quality of materials used.

Do Thermal Printers Use Ink?

No, thermal printers do not use ink. Instead, they use heat to activate the ink or transfer the ink from the ribbon onto the print media.

Do Thermal Printers Require Special Paper or Labels?

Yes, thermal printers do require special paper or labels. This is because the thermal printhead is dependent on the ability of these materials to provide ink to create the desired print.

The requirement of a thermal printer varies based on the type of thermal printing technology used.

Direct thermal printers require heat-sensitive labels (also called thermal labels or thermal papers), while thermal transfer printers require a thermal ribbon and print media that can accept the transferred ink from the ribbon.

Do Thermal Printers Use Ribbons?

The use of ribbons in thermal printers depends on the type of thermal printing technology used.

A thermal transfer printer requires a ribbon, while a direct thermal printer does not.

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Can You Use Normal Paper for Thermal Printing?

No, you can not use normal paper for thermal printing. The normal paper will not react to the heat from the thermal printhead and, therefore, will not produce a print.

Can Thermal Printer Print Images?

Yes, thermal printers can print images. However, the resolution and quality of the printed image will depend on the printer’s capabilities and output settings.

Do Thermal Printers Cause Cancer?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that thermal printers cause cancer.

Thermal labels contain a small amount of bisphenol A (BPA). According to the National Library of Medicine research, BPA can mimic estrogen and interact with estrogen receptors, causing changes in cells and contributing to the development and spread of cancer.

Another research by the National Library of Medicine found that the concentration of BPA in a thermal paper ranged from 211 μg/g to 13.3 mg/g, with 26.3 mg/g being the highest. The same study also found the estimated intake of BPA from thermal paper to be very low.

Therefore, it is unlikely that using thermal printers will cause cancer.

Do Thermal Printers Wear Out?

Yes, just like any other machinery, thermal printers do experience wear and tear over time. The rate at which the printer wears out depends on various factors, such as usage, maintenance, and operating conditions.

To prolong the lifespan of a thermal printer, it is important to regularly clean and maintain the printer. Please refer to our thermal printer maintenance tips – cleaning & care guide for best practice. 

Is Thermal Printer Impact or Non-Impact?

Thermal printers are non-impact printers, meaning they do not physically strike the print media to create an image.

How Many Colors Can a Thermal Printer Print?

The colours that a thermal printer can print depend on the colour of the ribbon used for printing. Check out our article on can thermal printer print colour for more information.

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Is Thermal Printing Waterproof?

No, thermal printing is not inherently waterproof.

However, there are ways to make thermal prints water-resistant, such as laminating the prints or applying specialized sprays like fixative spray.


We hope that this FAQ section helps to answer any questions you may have about thermal printers.

If you are looking for a reliable thermal printer for your business, check out our selection of high-quality thermal printers. We offer a range of thermal printer models from popular brands such as Honeywell, Zebra, TSC, and Datamax at competitive prices.

Check out our article on the best thermal printers for a list of our top recommendations.

Happy printing!

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