Thermal Printers: What are they and where are they used?

Thermal Printers What Are They

Thermal Printers and Printer Mechanisms

Printed receipts and documents are all around us in our everyday lives. BVM provides all types of thermal printers, including printer mechanisms for use in ticketing and vending machines, lottery terminals and ATMs. Panel Printers and Kiosk Printers to build into your product, Receipt Printers for retail applications, Label Printers, and Battery Powered Portable and Vehicle-powered mobile printers for printing up to A4-width on the move.

Thermal printers have been around us since the 1970s. If you are of a certain age you will remember the printers that came with the ZX Spectrum or Atari home computers or the original office fax machines with that silver roll of paper – they were thermal printers.

Thermal Printer Mechanisms

Much has changed since those early days but the basics are still the same… Heat reactive paper still sits between a platen roller and a thermal print head. The thermal head consists of a closely spaced line of resistive elements, or “dots”, that heat up when a voltage is applied. A small electric motor drives a rubber roller to feed the paper through the printer and, by turning each “dot” ON and OFF very quickly, anything can be printed on the paper in a matrix of tiny squares. They are tiny too, usually about 8 dots per millimetre, so logos and graphics can be printed as well as text.

As processing speeds increased and electric motors became more accurate, the paper also developed to keep up. The reaction time of the paper (changing from white to black) increased dramatically. Print speeds are now in the region of 350mm per second, rather than being specified in “pages per minute”.

Thermal printers are extremely reliable because there are very few moving parts and they only have one consumable…. the paper…. there is no ink to replace, no ink cartridges, no toner, no ribbon and each print is the same quality.


Thermal printers and thermal print mechanisms are small, light and consume little power, making them ideal for portable and retail applications. Commercial applications of thermal printers include petrol station pump receipts, information kiosks, point-of-sale systems, voucher printers, ticket machines, hospital cardiac monitors and more.


BVM are an appointed official distributor for Seiko Instruments’ printer mechanisms and portable printers for the UK and Ireland.

Different Types of Thermal Printer

Thermal Printer Mechanisms

Compact, reliable low voltage thermal printer mechanisms are the answer for portable printing applications, offering low power consumption to enable long battery life. The innovative small footprint designs free up critical design real estate.

New low voltage LTPD and CAPD series thermal printer mechanisms tackle the challenges of designing smaller, faster, more reliable mobile devices. These new mechanisms deliver exceptional value with dramatic advances in design flexibility, reliability and print performance.

CAPM series direct thermal printer mechanisms are ideal for high performance, heavy-duty embedded printing applications. 300 mm/second print speed means exceptional performance, for a better user experience. Service life ratings of up to 200 km printing and 2 million cuts ensure long-life, trouble-free operation. Extended operating temperature range and thick paper support provide additional application options such as outdoor ticket printing. Units are available in both EZ-OP paper operation and auto-loading designs.

Thermal Printer Mechanisms
RP F10 thermal receipt printer

Thermal Receipt Printers

Seiko RP- series receipt printers raise the bar in POS, delivering an unparalleled synthesis of performance, reliability, flexibility, contemporary aesthetics, and ease of use. And with the availability of the new RP-F Series with optional display or the RP-E Series, Seiko thermal receipt printers offer an array of options to help tackle the most daunting technical and business challenges in point-of-sale.

RP-F10/RP-E10 Series

Receipt, slip, ticket and more. RP-F10/RP-E10/RP-D10 series is ideal printer for many applications

  • Seiko RP-F Series, extremely compact thermal printers and come with an optional 4.3 inch color display.
  • Seiko RP-E Series printers generate receipts at 1.15 feet per second (350 mm per second).

Portable Thermal Printers

The range of compact and light weight Seiko portable thermal printers (with Bluetooth options) are ideal for printing anywhere. Applications range from field sales, inspection and measuring services, mobile medical facilities, warehouse inventory and equipment, issuing of tickets to name but a few.

The switch to mobile computing can offer dramatic bottom line results, by making users more efficient, shortening transaction times, expanding revenue opportunities, and more. The transition to mobility can be daunting though. Equipment has to be durable enough to perform consistently in the field. Downtime is not an option. Technology must be intuitive for operators who are not IT professionals. And with constrained budgets, solutions must provide an immediate return on investment.

portable thermal printer mp-b30
Seiko edito kiosk printer

Thermal Kiosk Printers

The Seiko Thermal Kiosk Printer Series “Edito” are the perfect solution for your individual needs. Fast, reliable and variable: These are the core statements which define these high-quality manufactured Thermal Kiosk Printers.

In addition to the base model there is an output control model with a push and pull detection function available. A presenter model including a presenter control module and a presenter/retractor model with internal printing function is completing this advanced printer series.

For easy setup and control of the printer a sophisticated firmware is provided.  Many internal fonts have already been embedded, additional fonts can be downloaded for character sizes from 6×8 to 64×64 dots. The printer can operate with paper widths from 58 mm to 83 mm. An illuminated bezel indicates the availability of a ticket very clearly. All these features provide you a great flexibility for a number of applications.

In-Vehicle Thermal Printers

These in-vehicle thermal printers are more than just mobile, as they can be permanently mounted and powered by the vehicle battery. Users include the emergency services, utility companies and fleet vehicles. Print widths up to A4 size and communication via USB, Bluetooth or WiFi. BVM’s in-vehicle printer is perfect for printing receipts, invoices, tickets and more on the move.

  • Easy-to-read control interface and simple drop-in paper loading
  • Dual tear bars allow easy tear-offs
  • True WYSIWYG printing with the Windows driver
  • Printer integration is quick and easy with Windows driver or Android and Microsoft SDKs (Apple iOS under preparation)
in-vehicle thermal printers
thermal label printer

Thermal Label Printers

The user friendly Smart Thermal Label Printers make it easy to grab text straight from the screen of your PC and create smart professional labels for almost any application. Easily prepare customised formats with your own company logo complete with a post office approved bar code – without the hassle of using standard printers. Mix and match fonts, graphics and bar codes, all on the same label.

  • Intuitive ! Automatically imports address information from various applications.
  • Economical ! No ink, toner or ribbon needed.
  • Modern ! Elegant and compact design
  • Compact ! Small footprint, suitable for any work station
  • Easy ! Uncomplicated change of labels and tags

Thermal Panel Printers

If you make a product that needs to produce a printout, then integrating a “Panel Printer” could be a quick and easy way to do it

Panel printers are small, easy to mount, highly reliable and they don’t need any ink!

As panel printers are loaded from the front they are particularly well suited to applications where trained staff use a device or instrument. They are regularly used in medical devices, diagnostic equipment, measuring instruments and building control panels. So, whether your business builds portable drug testers or exhaust analysers, if you are looking for an easy way to produce a printout, then a panel printer could be the solution for you. Check out the DPU-D2 and DPU-D3 models from Seiko Instruments and call us at BVM for more information.

thermal panel printer

We like to make life easier ….

Our technical & commercial team members will always provide you with valuable but impartial advice around the products and services that BVM supplies. With their collective backgrounds, they’ll provide you with the benefit of their knowledge and experiences when & where you need it. We’ll always help you in the first instance and get back to you when additional information is required.

You can either call us directly on +(0) 1489 780 144 and talk to one of the team – or E-mail us at – or use the contact form on our website

BVM Design and Manufacturing Services: The manufacturer behind the solutions you know

When a standard embedded design won’t suffice for what you need, you can always turn to BVM for help and use our custom design and manufacturing services.