Uses and benefits
Thermal paper allows for printing without ink. A specialised coating applied to the paper allows print images to be created when passed through a thermal printer. This efficient print process results in a sharp, clear and high definition image.
Thermal printing is used in many applications such as point of sales solutions for the printing of till slip invoices, ATM and credit card slips, lottery and parking tickets, labels as well as print solutions for specialized applications, for example in healthcare (ECG’s), ultrasound and prescriptions.
Thermal print offers a quiet, efficient, high speed and low maintenance option for many print requirements with low print costs and long image life with the correct selection of paper.
Selecting the right paper
It is vital that thermal paper must be matched to suit both the printer and the final application. Two types of sensitivities typical to thermal paper will determine which paper to use.
Dynamic Sensitivity and Static Sensitivity.
Dynamic sensitivity refers to the correlation between the paper and the speed at which the printer operates. A high-speed printer requires paper with a high dynamic sensitivity. The paper is only exposed to the thermal print head for a short amount of time in a high-speed print environment. A paper with a low dynamic sensitivity when used on a high-speed printer will not result in good quality print and the image life will be compromised.
Static sensitivity refers to the temperature at which the thermal paper begins to turn black. This is important when the printer and final application of the paper are being used in high ambient temperatures such as parking or events tickets.
There is a wide selection of thermal paper solutions in South Africa.
For extended print head life and optimal image reproduction, it is important to ensure that the thermal paper chosen will meet the specifications that are appropriate for the application.
Some papers available are not suitable to the warm African climate causing images to fade prematurely and many of the cheaper papers on offer have an abrasive thermal coating that may damage the thermal printer head which is very costly to replace.
Consider the following regarding your choice of thermal paper:
- What are the dynamic and the static sensitivities of the paper and does it suit the application? Ask your supplier to assist with the selection of an appropriate grade of paper.
- Is the paper EPSON or Original Equipment Manufacturer approved to retain the warranty on the printer?
- Cheaper is very seldom better when it comes to the purchase of your thermal paper. The quality and specification of the paper are critical for printer head life, image retention and quality of the print. Check with your supplier before placing your next order.
Units of Measure and Standards
There are no set standards for the production and sale of Thermal rolls in South Africa and product is sold in various units of measure that can be confusing.
Thermal rolls have a width determined by the equipment but may be sold by outside diameter or length. Grammage, paper thickness, and core size have a bearing on diameter and length of paper on a roll.
It is important to understand these units and to ensure that you receive what you order. For example, if you are ordering by the length of paper on a roll, it may be a good idea to do spot checks from time to time. Similarly, if you are ordering rolls by outside diameter, check the inside core diameter of the roll and establish the grammage or thickness of the paper, you may find less paper on the roll than you bargained for.
Pre Printing on Thermal Paper
Thermal paper will accept print. It is, however, advisable that marketing messages or terms and conditions of trade, should be printed on the uncoated or back of thermal rolls. Printing on the front or coated side of thermal rolls may leave a residue on the thermal head which could result in damage to thermal print heads. Reputable suppliers will ensure that inks are correctly selected to avoid damage to printers.
Disposing and recycling of thermal papers
Recycling of paper is important for many reasons, keeping paper out of landfills and providing fibers for recycled paper to name but two. Thermal paper is no exception to this rule.
Independent studies by the European Thermal Paper Association have confirmed that the recycling of thermal paper, because of the relatively small component in the recycling mix, has no negative impact on the environment.
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