Whether buying groceries at the supermarket, getting a coffee at a local espresso bar, paying for petrol, or buying a big-ticket item, receipts are indispensable.
They are proof of payment and act as the guarantee of the purchase once the transaction is complete. They are also becoming important as carriers of communication and advertisement.
As a result, printability, durability and running qualities in thermal printers are crucial criteria when it comes to their use in every-day life.
“Receipts have long been more than just proof of facts and figures,” says Mandy Williams, national sales manager at paper communication company PaperGeni, a division of Bytes Technology Group.
“As a result, thermal papers are frequently exposed to a wide variety of climatic and chemical conditions, and great demands are being made on the paper when it comes to quality.”
Thermal paper must not only be able to meet the speed requirements of fast printers in till systems, but they must also be stable and resistant to wear.
In thermal printing, the thermal energy generated by a large number of small heating elements produces a colour reaction, and with it the print image, on the special coated paper.
“Thermal printing offers several advantages over other printing techniques,” says Williams.
“It’s silent, reliable, has low running costs, does not require other consumables such as toner or ink, is easy to use and does not require solvents. In addition, the printer is compact, making it ideal for portable handheld devices that are taken to the customer.”
With thermal papers, the coated side is used to print receipts. The back offers all sorts of opportunities for advertising, which in turn can offset costs. Printed branding and advertising are also possible on the front, to a limited extent.
More and more receipts are being used as a vehicle for advertising. Offset, flexo, and other conventional printing techniques offer further advertising potential for the use of thermal papers – and make great demands on their properties.
The printability of the paper before it reaches the thermal printer is therefore of growing importance.
“Thermal paper is heat-sensitive and the poorer the quality, the more rapidly the paper is likely to degrade,” explains Williams. “Direct sunlight or a hot environment can turn the slip black and the printing will fade. Cheap thermal paper does not have a guarantee when it comes to fade resistance.
"That’s why you need to opt for the grades that are specifically produced for point-of-sale receipts and statements, and which have a printing durability of five years. These slips must, however, be filed in a protective cabinet in a cool environment to ensure maximum longevity.”