Thermal paper is a paper that contains a chemical that reacts to heat, causing an impression. The chemicals can turn the impression black, red or blue depending on the combination of chemicals used.
Thermal paper is most often used in thermal printers attached to cash registers, ATM machines and adding machines. It provides a less expensive receipt solution to the alternative which is laser or dot matrix printing.
The paper technology was designed in the 1960’s and brought to market by 3M and NCR. Japanese business equipment manufacturers began using the technology in barcode scanners in the 70’s and 80’s. While thermal paper is no longer often used in this type of application today, it is used extensively in point of sale applications such as gas pumps, bank machines, and ATM’s.
Thermal paper rolls are lighter weight than other types of paper rolls and are generally less expensive. Because most small business machines use thermal paper exclusively, it is one of the most ordered business supplies in the country. Each machine has its own requirements for the size of roll needed and, in some cases, the brand that must be used. High quality replacement brands are available online for most types and sizes of thermal paper.
Many inexpensive thermal paper rolls exist that use a cheap “shortcut” technology. These should not be used in business machines as they can cause premature wear to the printer heads and cutter blades. Cheap quality paper can also leave paper dust inside the printer affecting the quality of the print and shortening the life of the machine.
Thermal paper quality and longevity has improved substantially over the past decade with improved coatings on the paper, however thermal paper is not meant for long term data storage. Receipts which need to be kept for longer periods of time, such as for income or sales tax purposes, should be photocopied for future retrieval. The chemical reaction on the thermal paper fades over time and the fading can be hastened by UV exposure or dampness.
Finding the right type of thermal paper for your machine is usually a fairly simple task. Locate the manufacturer and model number of the unit and look it up on the manufacturer’s website. In most cases, there will be a list of sizes of paper required for each model. You can go to a reputable online thermal paper retailer like Buyrolls.com and find that size of paper for your machine. You can often get better prices on case lots of thermal paper, so if your business goes through a lot of it, it makes sense to buy thermal rolls in bulk.
Thermal paper is a part of almost every company’s life today. With continual increases in automation and payment processing, the use of thermal paper is expected to increase exponentially. Finding a reliable source and getting the best price helps the bottom lines of savvy companies.