Guide to receipt printer types

Published: 16th July 2009
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There are numerous types of receipt printing technology in the market today but which type is suitable for your business? This article covers the common types and explains which environment works best with each technology.



There are 3 main types of receipt printer



Thermal receipt printer



Thermal printers are now the most popular choice of receipt printer as they are often the most reliable and easy to use as they do not require any ink or ribbons. The technology relies upon chemically treated paper that is sensitive to heat. The printer heats the paper via holes in the print head to create text and graphics. Thermal printers are also regarded as the fastest type of receipt printer printing up to 250mm second making them very suitable to fast turnover environments such as supermarkets and high street retail.



The one downside to thermal receipts, due to the technology, is that they fade in sunlight and can turn black and unreadable if subjected to heat. Thermal receipts are therefore unreliable for businesses that require their receipts to remain readable for long periods of time due to regulations. Dual colour can be obtained by some models at the higher end of the market with special paper but the results can be disappointing and the technology is rarely used at present.



Thermal receipt printers are generally recommended for high turnover/ general retail and hospitality front of house.



Impact printers



This type of printer generally requires a ribbon which holds the ink like a typewriter and uses an impact mechanism that stamps the characters through the ribbon onto the paper. There are some models that can use paper that contain microcapsules of ink which burst upon impact and hence do not require ribbons but these are in small numbers and generally restricted to payment devices. Impact printers are easy identifiable as they are considerably noisier that other types of printer and are generally considerably slower than thermal printers. Impact printers are commonly the type that offers models with a two and three ply paper or a second roll for audit purposes. In recent years and in most environments this type of printer has been superseded by thermal printers due to their speed and lack of a need for consumables other than paper.



In some markets however the impact printer still rules such as the banking and gaming industries. Kitchens in retardants and pubs tend to use impact printers as the receipts can not be erased by the heat. Some industries such as banking and gaming have regulations regarding certain types of receipts and about the length of time receipts are required to remain readable. Ink based receipts last considerably longer than thermal receipts and is therefore used by these industries as standard. It is worth noting that ribbons come in different colours such as purple, black, red and dual red/black with the latter ribbon being used to highlight certain transactions types such as refunds in red.



Impact receipt printers are recommended for kitchens, banking, gaming, and low turnover retail and hospitality environments.



Inkjet receipt printers.



Inkjet printers are regarded as the successor to impact printers as they also use ink but they offer a superior printing quality. Most inkjet printers allow printing via ink cartridges in two colours with normally a mix of black, green, red and blue. Businesses spend a great deal of time and resources on brand recognition and using colour is a popular way of doing this. The technology can also be put to great use by printing colourful advertising or promotions on the receipt thus generating return visits from the customers.



In reality the take up of inkjet receipt printers has been minimal. This is thought to be due to a couple of reasons, firstly it is perceived that the changing of ink at the till point is tricky and time consuming and secondly the speed at which these printers operate is considered too slow for major retailers to adopt. Inkjet receipt printers do however offer the same longer lasting receipts as impact printers making them suitable for most business types.



Inkjet receipt printers are recommended for low turnover retail, banks and gaming industry.



Manufacturers. So what brand should I go for?



This market is well serviced by numerous manufacturers with a wealth of choice and price range. As with many markets there is a huge influx of far eastern models at rock bottom prices. As with most things that you purchase, you get what you pay for and it is worth noting that with the major manufacturers you tend to get better products that last longer and receive better support if something goes wrong. Remember if your receipt printer stops working you will find it very difficult to trade. The general rule is the higher turnover your business achieves the better the receipt printer you should invest in.



Anything else?



Remember that the receipt printer you choose has to work with the software and hardware that you are going be using. Firstly check with the software supplier which brands and models the software supports. Also check that the printer you intend to buy has drivers for the operating system that you are going to be using. Lastly, ensure the printer has the right interface for the hardware that you are going to be using. Common interfaces are USB, Serial and parallel however Bluetooth and wireless are quickly gaining ground.





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Mike Leary has been improving business process efficiency from the start of his career. Having worked for major retailers, solution providers and printer manufacturers he shares his knowledge in this popular complete guide to paper rolls. Claim it here now for free =>

http://www.rolldepot.co.uk


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