Last updated: August 18, 2021

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Welcome! If you want to know more about the thermal printer, you've come to the ideal article! Stay with us and find all the information about this equipment that can be very useful for your business!

Due to its operation without using ink, the thermal printer is very useful for those who make huge volumes of prints. It is, without doubt, a great ally in reducing costs in trade!


  • The thermal printer is not ideal for use in the home environment, but rather in commercial or corporate situations that call for high volume printing.
  • Situations where the thermal printer fits like a glove include receipt, invoice and order printing.
  • When there is a queue of customers or a huge amount of printing, the speed of the printer is one of the most important categories to choose from.

The Best Thermal Printer: Our Picks

Buying guide: What you need to know about thermal printer

Is it really worth having thermal printers? How can they help cut costs? Why are they different from standard models? You'll find all the answers below!

Imagem mostra uma pessoa apertando um botão de uma impressora térmica.

Using a thermal printer is very easy. (Source: Kittichai Boonpong/

What is a thermal printer and what is it used for?

A thermal printer is a device that does not use ink to print. For this, it needs a thermosensitive paper that changes colour when heated, causing the information to be recorded on it. When it receives the order to print, the thermal printer heats up the paper according to the original file.

This is when the "printing" takes place. Because it does not use ink, the heat-sensitive printer is much cheaper than conventional printers and is preferred by retailers. However, it has a number of limitations that prevent it from being used in a domestic context.

Did you know that the thermal printer was once sold together with a video game? In 1998, it came with a Game Boy edition and allowed the printing of a few frames of games.

What are the advantages of the thermal printer?

Low cost, printing speed and less maintenance are some of the reasons why the thermal printer is preferred in most commercial establishments. In addition, it has much less environmental impact than the conventional printer and is very simple to operate, allowing easy automation. Its limitations, however, are also clear:

On most models, it can only print in black, which prevents images from being printed, and the "ink" disappears quickly. For these reasons, it is practically impossible to use it in a domestic context. Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of the thermal printer:

  • Greatly reduces printing costs
  • Rarely needs maintenance
  • Printing is quick and easy
  • Causes less environmental impact than the common printer
  • The printing process can be easily automated
  • The vast majority of models only print in one colour
  • The printing disappears after some time

In which situations is it worth using the thermal printer?

The thermal printer should be used whenever there are high volumes of things to be printed and there is no need for colours or for the prints to last for a long time. The most common use of thermal printers is at checkouts in shops. They print receipts and coupons with speed, without wasting ink and rarely cause any kind of problem.

They are very suitable for this function. They are also used in bank tellers, in printing barcodes and prices in some establishments, in immediate registration in hospitals and clinics, in bar and restaurant orders, among others. If you run a business, the chance of a thermal printer being useful is great!

Imagem mostra recibos impressos por impressora térmica.

Thermal printers are perfect for shops. (Source: sabinevanerp/

What are the types of thermal printer?

There are two main types of thermal printers: Direct and Indirect. They have different functions:

  • Direct thermal printer: Uses thermosensitive paper that changes colour when heated, without any intermediary. The printed image is less durable and the quality is reasonable, but the cost-benefit is exceptional.
  • Indirect thermal printer: Needs a "ribbon", a plastic ribbon that has a similar function to carbon paper. It serves as an intermediary between the printer and the paper. The final result is of better quality and more durable, serving for prints such as barcodes and labels.

The more a printout needs to withstand, the more it is worth choosing the indirect thermal printer.

How does maintenance of a thermal printer work?

One issue that is often problematic with home printers is the frequency of problems and the need for maintenance. Thermal printers are much better at this.

Clean the inside of your printer every 15 days to prevent problems

To keep your thermal printer running for a long time without any problems, perform scheduled maintenance. This will increase the longevity of your device and ensure that it will not malfunction at times of use.

The first point is to always use quality heat-sensitive paper or ribbons. Buy from reliable suppliers, not just anywhere. Bad models, or too cheap, can damage the printer. Every fortnight, carry out a cleaning of the print head.

To do this, turn off the printer, remove the ribbon and paper and use a cotton swab or cotton with isopropyl alcohol. After cleaning, do not close the printer quickly. Let the alcohol evaporate and remove any rest that may have remained inside. This will guarantee a long life!

Purchase criteria: factors when choosing a thermal printer

Not sure how to choose a thermal printer model among so many excellent options? Don't worry, we will now discuss a few things that can help you with your purchase.


Will the thermal printer be connected directly to the computer or will it work remotely? Does it need to print data from more than one source? Will it be connected to a smartphone? You need to know the answers to these questions to define the connectivity of your thermal printer. The best-selling models work either via USB, which is ideal when connected to a fixed computer, or via bluetooth, which makes sense for use with a smartphone or multiple sources.

Imagem mostra uma impressora térmica junto a vários papéis com códigos de barras impressos.

Thermal printers are great for printing codes. (Source: alexlmx /


In small businesses, you often need to use the thermal printer on different computers, with different functions. It could also be that you provide services outside of your home and need to make prints while visiting clients or being on the road.

Portable thermal printers help professionals who are on the move a lot

Some thermal printers are portable, meaning you can easily take them anywhere. They usually work via Bluetooth and are very helpful in situations that call for constant mobility. If the printer is fixed, there is no need to opt for a portable model, but know that they exist and can help you when necessary.

Printing speed

In some places, the printing needs to be very fast. This is the case at checkouts, as queues are formed and customers are impatiently waiting to be served. If the thermal printer will always have a huge volume of things to print or if it will be installed in a place that asks for agility, the printing speed is an important figure.

The number should be listed in the technical specifications. Print speed is measured in mm/s (millimetres per second). 250 is an excellent number for those who need large volumes.


The main thermal printer models have a number of features that can make your work much easier. The LED lights that indicate the printing status help identify if there are any errors. The buttons can speed up the reel, unroll the paper or pause the activity in progress. The knurling on the print output also collaborates a lot by avoiding waste and helping in the process of paper cutting, allowing everything to be ready for the sequence of work.


The thermal printer is an important ally for anyone in a trade or other business. It has much lower printing costs than a standard printer, uses no ink and offers superior speed. You can choose a direct thermal printer, ideal for checkouts, issuing orders, quick reports and the like, or indirect, which generates more resistant products and is better for labels and barcodes. Both have great working capacity and satisfactory durability.

(Source of the detached image: PhotoMIX-Company/