A thermal printer doesn’t use any ink. Instead the special type of white paper turns black when heated. Thermal printers are commonly used for receipts in registers and credit card terminals. Thermal printers are very quiet. The only moving parts are to push the paper through the printer. However, the paper used in thermal printers is very sensitive to light, heat, and clear tape. Printed items on thermal paper will fade with time. So you wouldn’t use thermal printers to archive important information over a number of years.
Feed assembly, heating element
Thermal printers use a feed assembly to pull paper through the printer. The paper goes into the bottom of the printer. A roller feed pulls the paper through the printer. The roller can be replaced very easily if it gets worn down.
There’s a full length heating element in the printer instead of a moving print head. As the paper gets fed through the heating element is only heating certain parts of the paper.
Special thermal paper
Thermal paper is covered with a chemical that changes color when heated.
Maintenance: Replace paper, clean
heating element, remove debris
Replacing thermal paper is relatively inexpensive. But you need to make sure you get the right size thermal paper for your thermal printer. There are different sizes of thermal paper. Replacing the thermal paper is a simple process. You simply remove the cover and remove any existing rolls of thermal paper, and put in a brand new roll of thermal paper. Close the cover. Then press the feed button to feed the paper through the printer.
The heating element in the thermal printer can get dirty. To clean it you can use liquid cleaner, like isopropyl alcohol (IPA). You can also get a cleaning pen that has IPA at the end of it to reach small areas. Most thermal printer manufacturers will have recommended cleaning. Swab very gently across the heating element. Some printers will allow you to use a cleaning card which is passed through the printer. The cleaning card will clean the heating element along with the paper path.
To remove bits of paper that may be left in the thermal printer, you can take it outside and blow out the printer with compressed air. You can also wipe out the inside with a damp cloth. Avoid using a vacuum since vacuums tend to build up and discharge static electricity. If you have a vacuum designed specifically for cleaning internal computer components then you can use this specially designed vacuum to clean the thermal printer.