Some retail cash registers or older fax machines might contain thermal printers. Thermal paper is chemically treated and has a waxy quality. Thermal paper becomes black when heated. After a roll of thermal paper is loaded, the feed assembly moves the paper through the printer. Electrical current is sent to the heating element in the print head to generate heat. The heated areas of the print head make the pattern on the paper.
A thermal printer has the following advantages:
- Longer life because there are few moving parts
- Quiet operation
- No cost for ink or toner
A thermal printer has the following disadvantages:
- Paper is expensive.
- Paper has a short shelf life.
- Images are poor quality.
- Paper must be stored at room temperature.
- Color printing is not available.