What’s Thermal Paper & How Thermal Paper is Used ?

What’s Thermal Paper ?

Thermal paper, a type of copy paper that uses heat to produce its image, is used in many printers that specialize in quick prints. These include cash registers, older game consoles and ultrasound machines. The printouts from these printers fade over time and are very sensitive to heat and light. Images can disappear in as little as five years.
It is a cheap and simple form of printing if you need only one color, which is why it is used for printing receipts. Although the actual recipe for professional thermal paper is a closely guarded secret, any kitchen chemist can make a home-brewed variety that works nearly as well. The key ingredient is sugar, which turns into carbon when heated.

How Thermal Paper is Used ?

Credit and Debit Card Machines

Thermal paper today is still widely used in credit and debit card machines. Customers swipe their credit or debit cards through a magnetic reader that completes the sale electronically. Once the transaction is finished, a thermal paper receipt is issued containing all pertinent information. The paper comes on narrow rolls that are installed directly in the magnetic reader machine. The machine severs the thermal paper with a cutter after the receipt is issued.

 Portable Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems
Portable Point-of-Sale systems employ thermal paper in narrow rolls as well. For example, when a customer returns a rental car, the rental car company agent is able to print out a receipt in the auto return area so that the renter can be on her way instead of having to visit a service desk inside the agency building. Another example of a POS system that uses thermal paper is portable credit and debit card machines used by vendors at an outdoor festival or art fair. These machines use narrow rolls of thermal paper as well.

Pocket Printers
Thermal paper is used with some models of portable pocket printers such as the Pentax and Brother PocketJet series of printers. These machines require a sheet form of thermal paper instead of rolls.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
One of the most common uses of thermal paper is in the automatic teller machines at banks. After the client completes his banking using the touch screen or keyboard, the ATM prints out a receipt of the transaction on thermal paper. This thermal paper, too, is of the narrow-roll type.

Long-Term Storage Documents
Thermal paper is also used today in a new generation of medical documents, bank statements, and other paperwork that needs to stand up to a long-term storage situation.

How Does Thermal Paper Work

At the manufacturing plant, paper is coated with a chemical that darkens when heat is applied to it. In fact, it is possible to make the printed side of heat-transfer paper completely black by placing it in an oven, under a heating lamp, or on the dashboard of a car parked in direct sunlight.

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