Thermal or temperature-dependent printing always requires a hot print head with the dots - special semiconductor resistors - and a specially coated, heat-sensitive material.Â
In direct thermal printing, a hot print head heats a thermo-sensitive material. The colour of the thermal paper changes where it is heated, thus making numbers, letters and/or a grid visible in black, whereby the print quality is not so important. This simple technology is inexpensive and is often used in supermarkets. Typical direct thermal printers are available in a compact format. Over time, with exposure to light and heat, the printed information fades. Those who need to keep receipts for tax purposes should make copies on normal paper (or scan them in).
Direct thermal printing has the advantage that it does not need consumables such as ink ribbons. The printer sends an electrical current to the elements in the thermal head which generate heat. In addition, devices for use with paper rolls, apart from refilling the paper roll, do not require any maintenance or additional consumables such as ink ribbons. The first direct thermal printers were used for low-cost fax machines. Today's applications include the printing of receipts, shipping labels, parking tickets, admission tickets, transport tickets, as well as scientific and medical examination protocols and barcode labels.
Resistance to environmental influences has significantly improved in today's thermal papers. This is achieved partly by applying a protective layer (topcoat), but also through improved formulations.