Receipt printers are peripherals that can be connected to both a point of sale terminal and a cash drawer to aid in automation of a checkout counter. They can be used with a variety of different point of sale terminals and can easily be obtained by contacting Shopify or some other retailer for thermal receipt printers.
Thermal printers are not new technology. They have been around for a number of years and have shown up mostly in the realm of label and barcode printing. Thermal printing techniques have changed over the years and their use has gone up in industry and commerce to match their availability. Here we explore the history of thermal printing and its impact on business.
Ink and Thermal
Thermal printing of receipts came about as a replacement for using ink and paper. Originally, receipts were written out using a ball-point pen on a receipt book. In the early days of thermal receipt generation, the receipts that could be printed were limited in scope and the printing technology was expensive.
Thermal paper was a relatively new invention and as such it was not cost effective to invest in a thermal receipt printer. The new technology had its share of teething problems, ranging from poor receipt production to receipts being printed at such a low concentration so as to be unreadable. At the turn of the 1990’s the first commercially available and affordable thermal printer was available in China, but it would take most of that decade and some of the next for thermal printing to be used worldwide in retail situations.
Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer
Both of these methods were developed as a means of producing clear, efficient thermal receipts. Direct thermal printers use a special type of paper that, when heated to a particular degree, change the color of the paper, darkening it in a particular pattern. The resulting image does not last long and fades quickly after being issued. Some companies have adopted this as a security means to avoid having customers use old receipts to return used purchases.
Thermal transfer is another type of printing that is more common with printers that do both receipt printing and barcode printing. The long-lasting nature of thermal transfer techniques make it much better for printing labels that receipts. This system involves the transfer of heat to ribbon that then holds the printing ink in place for a length of time. Both of these systems have their positives and drawbacks. However, direct printing methods are much more useful in the generation of receipts.
In the past, thermal printers used to have to be connected physically to the point of sale terminal via a cable. This used to lead to problems when the cable would become damaged or corroded through regular usage. Replacement cables are relatively cheap, but they require a time investment to get the cable and manually replace it.
Wireless printers have now entered the market and have taken retail locations by storm. These portable units can connect directly to any point of sale hardware that has a wireless interface, and can print receipts directly from the point of sale terminal. It is ideal for use with travelling salespeople or for a point of sale terminal that might need to be moved. Due to its portability, it is ideal for use in a modular point of sale system.
Modular point of sale systems are usually based around iPads in this day and age. iPads can easily interface with wireless thermal printers and because of the ease of use of their integrated sales app, a receipt can be produced instantaneously after a sale completed. This adds to the sense of portability since there is no need to be hindered by wires or connections.
Wireless freedom can take your iPad point of sale with its connected wireless thermal printer anywhere business goes. This is even more good news for companies that have multiple points of sale in the building. Costs can be cut by interfacing with a single wireless receipt printer from both points of sale.
Doubling up on the wireless thermal printer enables the company to save money in the long run. Although the wireless printers do cost more than the wired versions, in situations like these, they make back the money immediately, since there is no need to buy a second printer.
While there are still places using inkjet printers to produce receipts, the number of them out there are quickly dwindling. Thermal printing technology has become more affordable and portable than inkjet technology. Low maintenance costs would appeal to users of inkjet printers for receipt purposes.
The comparative analysis of these methods shows that the thermal printers are the outright winners. Since they are easily swapped in and out, they work very well with modular point of sale systems and allow for a large number of configurations with different point of sale terminals. The possibilities with a wireless thermal printer