There are two portable printers which use thermal print mechanisms which you’ll want to take a look at. Click the images below to find out more.
The first is the Brother PocketJet 6 Plus.
The second is the PlanOn PrintStik.
Find out why thermal technology is a good choice in some situations, they’re unlikely to be the best for you (almost certainly you’ll want an inkjet based device), but it’s still worth finding out if it’s perfect for you.
- They’re substantially smaller and weigh far less.
- Much more reliable because they do not contain moving parts.
- Much lower running costs because they do not use ink.
- Far greater portabilitydue to:
- Internal paper rolls.
- In–built Bluetooth.
- No ink cartridges.
At the moment you’ll find that Brother produces the best printers based on thermal technology out of the (admittedly very few) competitors.
They have their downsides too:
- They are incapable of color printing.
- They black and white resolution is lower.
- They are only Bluetooth capable (no WiFi/infrared).
If you find that these things are important to you, then we suggest checking out inkjet technology as a perfect solution for you.
What are they?
Thermal printers have been supplanted from more common use by superior laser printers or thermal wax printers. Although the printers themselves are cheaper they need special thermal paper to work which increases the cost. They operate by sending an electrical current to very fine ‘dots’ which reach very high temperatures. Thermal paper is made with chemical woven into its structure which react to heat. Once the paper is heated up it changes color depending on the chemical which is woven in, and takes on a ‘burnt’ (black) color.
Their applications are very well noted within commercial industries where receipts or other pieces of information need to be rapidly printed out. A laser print just wouldn’t be practical to use because although their day to day use is admittedly cheaper the physical parts of a laser print are far too large to allow it to be carried around. Most thermal printers are very small, just take a look at whatever’s printing your receipt when you buy something – that’s a thermal printer. The unique paper which receipts are printed on has that thicker more unique feel because of the chemical composition.
How do they work?
They operate using four important pieces of technology, the thermal head, platen, spring and finally the controller boards. The thermal head is the part of the device which is heated up and colors the paper with the aforementioned heat. The platen is a rubber, heat-resistant roller which feeds the paper into the device. The spring applies a specific amount of pressure to the thermal head causing purposeful contact with the thermo-chromic paper to allow the paper to be colored. The paper is interwoven with a chemical matrix which upon heating to above its melting point turns to a liquid and changes color by process of this melting and when the paper has passed over the thermal head the matrix re solidifies whilst retaining the color change.
Who are they for?
Thermal printers tend to work best using just black and white and they’re useful for several different key situations. Firstly as mentioned they can take on a very commercial roll not just printing out receipts but anything. This is especially useful on the shop floor for example, where printing otherwise would involve going back to somewhere you could print, uploading the files and finally printing. With a portable thermal printer all you need to do is type in the specific details onto the printer itself and hit print. It’s quick and safe and most importantly it gets things done efficiently.
They’re also useful if you want a smaller black and white thermal printer because they’re much smaller than inkjet printers and certainly much smaller than laser printers. The only downside is that you need to carry around or buy the thermal paper whenever you want to print anything of. Which may of course off set the smaller size and less noisy device. On the other hand you have to take into account that you don’t need replacement ink cartridges at all, which can be expensive and difficult to find in some areas. All you need is a source of electricity and the printer itself, the printer has a battery so of course it’s going to work for quite a long time without needing charging, but all printers need charging and you’ll fine that they’re very energy efficient.
Where can I get them cheap?
If you want to purchase thermal portable printers cheaply then I suggest using either E-Buyer or Amazon to get the best deals. Let’s face it, the days of popping down to an Electronics or Computer store are now completely over, if you want something cheap you get it online. If you want to learn about something, you learnt about it online – and if you don’t know exactly what you want then you go down to that kind of shop where they can hit you with a 20% increase in price for a generally pretty mediocre service. What’s more is if you want a wireless portable printer by upgrading your device and installing Bluetooth you can usually get them cheap at secondhand from Ebay.
What are the different types?
When it comes to thermal printers there are a several common varieties which you’re bound to encounter, some on a day to day basis and you perhaps just haven’t realized it yet. The most common are of course in tills at shops, the printers which print your receipts can do so at such as quick speed purely because of the thermal printing mechanism. When it comes to portable thermal printing then you’re going to see a mixture between mainly shop floor orientated printers and ones for personal work use. Shop floor printers would be staff carrying around a printer which prints of receipts, tickets, price tags and so forth. Instead of them having to print it out from a distance, they can carry out their printing needs there and handle it without wasting time.
Personal work use is usually limited to office workers or accounts who are working with lots of paper and need work printed out then and there to save time. This tends to be somewhat rare though and you’ll generally see portable printers much more frequently.