What is a Kiosk Printer?
Kiosk printers can take many forms but they all have one thing in common; being are hidden away inside a machine. One reason there are so many different kiosk printers on the market is that the applications for them are so diverse. Their purpose can be anything from a fuel pump issuing a receipt, a ticket machine on a railway platform, or a check-in booth in a hospital waiting room.
Kiosks located in shops and fast-food outlets have trained staff available to change paper rolls and deal with any issues, whereas a ticket machine in a car park may have no one around to monitor the machine and will be visited much less often. All kiosk printers need to be reliable of course, but some also need to cope with potential abuse and mistreatment, especially in more remote locations.
To cope with all of these different situations, kiosk designers can choose between five main types of printer:
The “cut and drop” Printer
These are commonly used in pay and display carparks. The ticket is printed inside the kiosk, cut from the roll and allowed to fall down a chute into a tray ready for collection. This is the most basic type of kiosk printer and the lowest cost. The printer is well protected inside the kiosk and as long as the kiosk is well designed, cut and drop printers are very effective.
“output control” Printers
Two clever features allow the printer to be mounted directly behind the kiosk fascia. The “anti-jam” feature stops the ticket printing if an obstruction occurs; deliberately blocking the paper path for example. Printing resumes when the path is clear.
When the opposite happens and the ticket is pulled before it is fully printed, the “pull protection” makes sure the printer and paper roll are not affected. That particular ticket may be damaged or torn by the user, but without causing a paper jam, making sure the kiosk is ready for the next customer.
These printers are useful when a degree of autonomy is needed, but also where the budget doesn’t allow for a “presenter” type printer.
The “presenter” function
Presenters are built into the front of a kiosk printer and allow a ticket to be printed and cut from the roll before the customer sees it. The printed ticket is then fed forward and presented to the user. Once pulled, the ticket is fed a little further and ejected, effectively passing the ticket to the user. These printers do cost a little more, but they are fully protected from mistreatment.
“present and retract” Kiosk Printers
Very similar to the presenter printers, but with the added ability to retract a printed ticket and discard it inside the kiosk. This is useful if the user doesn’t take the ticket or receipt within a programmable time period. A typical application for this type of printer is an ATM cash machine, as it prevents littering the street with unwanted receipts.
POS Printers in Kiosks
With printing speeds reaching 350mm per second, a fifth type of “kiosk printer” is becoming more widely used. Due to high volume production, Point-of-Sale (POS) printers are a very cost-effective way of producing a ticket or receipt in a kiosk environment. The exceptional high print speeds all but eliminate the need for a presenter, as the ticket is already printed and cut before the user has a chance to grip and pull it. Front-exit cube-shaped printers, such as Seiko’s RP series, are particularly suitable in kiosks as they be mounted directly behind the kiosk’s fascia.
Introducing the “Edito” kiosk printers from Seiko Instruments:
The Edito kiosk printers are available in all four types mentioned above, from “cut-and-drop” to “present-and-retract”. For convenience and ease of use, innovative features such as Feed and Print buttons are included on the front and back of the printers, ideal for front, side or rear opening kiosks.
A multi-coloured illuminated bezel can be set to show the printer status, when the paper roll is running low for example.
All Edito printers contain Seiko’s highly reliable CAPM347 printer mechanism that has a -20 to +70C operating temperature and, combined with an antistatic housing, they can be used for indoor and outdoor ticketing applications in all weather conditions. Variable paper widths from 58 to 83mm, with 200km of abrasion resistance and over one million cuts, these 200mm/s high-speed kiosk printers are built to last.
A large diameter 7-position paper arm is supplied with a paper-near-end sensor and you can choose to mount it on the left or right side, depending on the design and access restrictions of your kiosk housing. For applications requiring pre-printed tickets, a black-mark sensor is built into the paper channel, along with a tension unit to act as a clutch, preventing large and heavy paper rolls from unwinding after high-speed prints.
For easy set-up, the Edito range has sophisticated firmware and software tools that can monitor printer status and perform upload and download of printer settings, which can save time when configuring a batch of printers.
Seiko Instruments also have a wide range of printer mechanisms and control boards to design into your own printer. In combination with the Edito kiosk range and the RP series POS printers, Seiko Instruments and BVM Limited can cover all your kiosk printing needs.
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