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What Is a Thermal Receipt?

A thermal receipt is a slip of paper that's printed using heat instead of traditional ink. This technology allows for quick, clear transactions at checkouts, with the added benefit of being less prone to smudging. However, they can fade over time, so digital backups are wise. Wondering about the environmental impact or how to keep your receipts legible longer? Join the conversation below.
Whitney Leigh White
Whitney Leigh White

Almost any time a person conducts a transaction with a business, he or she will be provided a receipt of some sort. Most businesses will use a printer to print receipts. The two most common types of paper that receipts are printed upon are thermal and preprinted. Providing customers will thermal receipts is accompanied with several advantages. Among these advantages are that thermal receipts are produced quickly, the ink on thermal receipts last for a long period of time, and they come from printers that are plug-and-play devices.

When a business provides a customer with a thermal receipt, it is able to do so in a very fast and quiet manner. The receipts come from a thermal printer that either uses heat or wax resin to produce the images on the receipt. Most thermal printers are synched with a point of sale (POS) system, which allows for the receipt to be printed as soon as the transaction takes place. No customer wants to wait for a long period of time for a receipt, making it very important for all businesses to consider providing customers with a thermal receipt.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Thermal receipts also have the ability to last for a long period of time — many times, longer than 50 years. At one time, a thermal receipt could not last long due to distortion and/or fading, which was usually a result of the thermal receipt being exposed to heat or long periods of light. As technology became more highly developed at the turn of the 21st century, advancements helped to create thermal printers that could produce receipts with a prolonged period of durability.

One of the most advantageous aspects of thermal receipts is they are produced from printers that are plug-and-play devices. These types of devices are compatible with almost any type of computer operating system. All the user has to do is plug it in and it automatically downloads the required software and drivers before being ready to use.

Providing customers with thermal receipts also proves to be a very economical choice for a large amount of businesses. A thermal receipt comes from a printer that does not require toner, ink cartridges, or ribbons. Instead, it uses heat-sensitive paper, which does tend to be more expensive than regular printing paper. Thermal receipts, however, still tend to be more cost efficient than other types of receipts.

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