Difference Between Thermal Printer and Inkjet Printer

In this world of business and corporate companies, we use printers for various purposes like printing receipts, payments, advertisements, etc.


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Two famous types of printers currently available in the market are thermal printers and inkjet printers. Both thermal printers and inkjet printers share many similar features but also vary in many parameters.

Key Takeaways

  1. Thermal printers use heat to transfer ink onto paper, while inkjet printers spray tiny droplets.
  2. Thermal printers are faster and more cost-effective for high-volume printing than inkjet printers.
  3. Inkjet printers produce higher-quality color images and are better suited for photo printing.

Thermal Printer vs Inkjet Printer

The difference between a thermal printer and an inkjet printer is their method of printing data into paper. The thermal printer applies dry wax contained liquid in the form using heat to print data while the inkjet printer sprays a solvent-based liquid in the form to print data. The thermal printer uses a similar process of melting crayons using heat.

Thermal Printer vs Inkjet Printer

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Thermal printers use small printing elements to print or produce images on paper. Commonly. Thermal printers are used in industrial areas for printing caution signs, safety signs, directions symbols, and other labels.

Inkjet printers use solvent liquid to print images and other information on paper. Usually, these printers are used for small-scale purposes like offices, households, etc.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonThermal PrinterInkjet Printer
Printing processThe time consumed for the printing process is more than thermal printers. Ink refills for thermal printers are not very common and expensive.
Cost of acquisitionThermal printers are expensive to purchase and operate.Inkjet printers are comparatively cheaper to purchase and operate.
Image qualityThermal printers comparatively produce less-quality images.Inkjet printers produce high-quality images in comparison to thermal printers.
AccessibilityInk refills for inkjet are pretty common and are quite cheap in comparison to thermal printers.They are used in industrial areas for labels, bar code printing, and airline tickets, etc.
ApplicationThey are used in households, offices, banners, and mail addresses, etc.They are used in households, offices, banners, mail addresses, etc.

What is a Thermal Printer?

The thermal printer was first founded by Laurate Jack Kilby in 1965. Thermal printers use heat to print images or data on paper.

The advantages of thermal printers are low maintenance cost, reliable printer, user-friendly, high quality and versatility, etc.

Thermal pages are useful when printing many pages as the incurring cost for printing any number of pages or images will be the same.

Thermal printers are user-friendly as the whole system or printing process is automatic and only requires us to place the papers to be printed and turn the printer on.

Thermal printers are versatile as they are easily portable and can be fixed or equipped with any vehicle or cart.

The quality of images and graphics of thermal printers is excellent, and every data is published precisely. Two distinct categories of thermal printers are direct and thermal transfer printers.

What is Inkjet Printer?

The first inkjet printer was founded by Hewlett Packard in 1976. As the name suggests, Inkjet uses solvent-based ink to print images or data on paper. Inkjet printers spray thousands of droplets of ink to print images on paper.

The advantages of inkjet printers are the cost of acquisition, maintenance, and image quality. The parts required for printing inkjet printers, like cartridges and ink refills, are commonly found; hence, it is relatively cheaper.

The disadvantages of inkjet printers are durability, requiring more moving parts, and reliability.

Since inkjet printers produce images using ink, they can easily smudge or get ruined when exposed to water or humidity and even fade after some days.

Hence, inkjet printers have broad uses worldwide and are affordable for every sector of the economy.

Main Differences Between Thermal Printer and Inkjet Printer

  1. Thermal printers are more reliable when compared to inkjet printers.
  2. When printing 3D images, inkjet printers are more suitable as thermal printers can not produce 3D.
  3. Inkjet printers use solvent-based ink to produce images or data on paper, while thermal printers use wax-containing elements and heat to produce images on paper.
  4. Thermal printers are quite expensive in comparison to inkjet printers.
  5. The uses of inkjet printers are quite restricted as the ink easily smudges or gets ruined in the water, while thermal printers have wide uses.
  6. Thermal printers have less maintenance cost in comparison to inkjet printers.
Difference Between Thermal Printer and Inkjet Printer
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1050348/
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1420398/

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