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.

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

Thermal Printer vs Inkjet Printer

The main 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 paper using heat to print data while the inkjet printer sprays a solvent-based liquid in the paper to print data. The thermal printer uses a similar process of melting crayons using heat.

Thermal Printer vs Inkjet Printer

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

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 Between Thermal Printer and Inkjet Printer

Parameters of ComparisonThermal PrinterInkjet Printer
Printing processThe time consumed for the printing process is less in comparison to inkjet printers.The time consumed for the printing process is more in comparison to thermal printers.
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 thermal printers are not much common to find and are expensive.Ink refills for inkjet are quite common and are quite cheap in comparison to thermal printers.
ApplicationUsed in industrial areas for labels, bar code printing, and airline tickets, etc.Used in households, offices, banners, and mail addresses, etc.

What is 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 using thermal printers are low maintenance cost, reliable printer, user-friendly, high quality and versatile, etc.

Thermal pages are useful when printing a high number of 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 process of printing is automatic and only requires us to place the papers to be printed and turn the printer on.

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

The quality of images and graphics printed by thermal printers are great and every data is printed precisely. There are two distinct categories of thermal printers which are direct thermal printers and thermal transfer printers.

What is Inkjet Printer?

The first inkjet printer was founded by Hewlett Packard in 1976. Inkjet as the name suggests 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 which are required for printing in inkjet printers like cartridges, ink refills are commonly found and hence, it is quite 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 can even fade after some days.

Hence, inkjet printers have wide uses all over the world and are quite affordable by 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 it comes to 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


Both thermal and inkjet printers have their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending upon the uses, the printer can be used. Both produce or print high-quality images and data.

Thermal printers are more reliable as inkjet printers use ink to print on paper and it can be ruined easily by water.

Thermal printers are used widely for various purposes like bar coding and industrial uses while the uses of inkjet printers are restricted in numbers.

The maintenance cost is high in thermal than inkjet as inkjet requires more moving parts to operate and their replacement of such parts adds up to the cost.


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1050348/
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1420398/

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