The Uses and Hazards of Thermal Paper

Thermal paper is not new to the world market. It has been in use for many scores of years now. Thermal paper can be easily recognized because of the special finesse that it has and it being impregnated with certain chemicals that change color when they are exposed to heat. These are the characteristics that differentiate thermal-paper from other types.

Thermal paper is widely used in thermal printers. It finds its gigantic use particularly in lightweight and cheap devices. These include adding machines, credit card terminals as well as cash registers. Thermal paper usually requires a protective coating. This is because of the need to reduce the fading of the thermal image caused by the exposure to UV light, grease, water, oils, lard, fats, plasticizers and similar others.

The coating also helps to provide improved print head wear. Not only this, but it reduces or eliminates residue from the thermal coating on the thermal print heads. Moreover, this coating provides better anchorage of flexographic printing inks that are applied to the thermal-paper thereby focusing the heat from the thermal print head on the active coating. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, thermal transfer, laser printing, electrophotography, and, to a lesser extent, ink jet printing began to take away industrial and warehouse barcode applications of TP due to better durability. However, thermal paper made a strong comeback.

Thermal paper has had a difficult journey in the market with many ups and downs. It is now being vastly used for sale receipts, gasoline pumps, cash registers, rental car receipts, and many others. It is thus a good business to invest in TP as it is a prospective industry that promises good returns on your investment.

The pioneers of the thermal paper industry were the enterprises by the name of NCR Corporation and another one by the name of 3M. Although the 3M technology was more durable but its expensiveness made NCR the market leaders in thermal-paper over the time. The demand for TP increased with the invention of thermal print head in 1965 by Texas Instruments. It was in 1969 that a computer terminal with a thermal printer was introduced in the market by the name of Silent 700.

With time, when the bar-code system became more and more famous, the value and use of thermal paper further increased. Many big names in industry are now major consumers of thermal-paper for label applications. Recently, in 2006, NCR Corporation’s Systemedia division introduced two-sided thermal printing technology which is now known as 2ST. it has further given a boom to thermal-paper.

Despite all its cost-effectiveness and usage, health experts have shown serious concern about thermal paper. They claim that TP contains a high ratio of Bisphenol A which can lead to endocrine disruption. Special care should therefore be taken while using TP. Children should particularly be monitored so that they do not, in any case, chew or swallow thermal-paper. If they do so, medical help should be immediately sought.