How Do I Choose the Best Thermal Receipt Printer?

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  • Written By: Marty Paule
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2020
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With many different models to choose from, finding the right thermal receipt printer is a matter of identifying your needs. After establishing what your budget is, create a list of the functions needed in your business. Apart from the type of receipts and other documents you may need to generate, determine the type of connection(s) or interface needed. Speed and graphics capability can also be important capabilities for some businesses. The cost of proprietary consumables such as multi-colored thermal paper should also be factored in.

The thermal receipt printer often competes for space on counters and desks, and there are many models available with compact footprints if that is important in your situation. The types of receipts and other documents you need to generate and handle will also help to narrow your choices. Consider if you will need to print discount coupons, rebate certificates, and barcodes, as not all thermal printer models can handle these functions. Some thermal printers can generate graphics such as your business logo in color, while others can produce fairly sophisticated gray-scale images. If you need to generate wider documents such as invoices, there are many models available that accept wider thermal paper and specialized forms.


Some thermal receipt printers include a magnetic character ink recognition (MICR) function. Used in conjunction with specialized software, this allows the automatic endorsement and recording of checks and other documents encoded with magnetic ink that are received as payment in your business. Before purchasing a model with this kind of capability, confirm that it will be compatible with your accounting or other software used to track receipts.

You will also need to determine whether your thermal receipt printer will be operated as a standalone device or interface with other devices such as point of sale (POS) terminals, credit card swipers, or modems, as well as routers, servers, computers, and networks. There are models available with a wide array of interfaces, including serial, parallel, Ethernet, and USB connectors. Check if the thermal receipt printer is self-powered or is powered via a USB port, as some models require an external power supply that is sometimes sold separately. Models designed for mobile applications often include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

Convenience and consumables should also be considered. An auto cutter can be useful, especially with multi-part receipts and forms. The cost of thermal paper should be factored into your purchase decision also. Some models require the use of proprietary thermal paper rolls and other forms that can add significantly to the operating costs of the thermal receipt printer.


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