what is the difference between inkjet and thermal printers


What Is the Difference between Inkjet and Thermal Printers?

Printing technology has come a long way since its inception. Since its development, printing technology has evolved to meet the needs of consumers and businesses alike. There are several types of printers available in the market today, and two of the most commonly used are inkjet printers and thermal printers. This article delves into the differences between these two types of printers and how they function.

What is an Inkjet Printer?

An inkjet printer is a type of printer that sprays tiny droplets of ink onto paper to produce an image or text. The droplets are released from a printhead onto the paper, creating a range of colors.

The ink used in inkjet printers comes in cartridges that are easily interchangeable. The cartridges are filled with liquid ink, which is sprayed onto the paper during printing. Inkjet printers are typically used for printing photographs, graphics, and documents.

What is a Thermal Printer?

A thermal printer is a type of printer that uses heat to transfer an image or text onto paper. The printer uses a thermal print head to apply heat to the paper, which causes the chemicals on the paper to react and create an image.

Thermal printers are typically used for printing receipts, barcodes, and other types of labels. These printers are often used in retail environments, as they are fast, reliable, and cost-effective.

Substrate Compatibility

One of the main differences between inkjet printers and thermal printers is the type of substrate they can print on. Inkjet printers are versatile and can print on a variety of substrates, including paper, cardstock, photo paper, and even some fabrics.

On the other hand, thermal printers can only print on specially coated paper, such as thermal paper. This type of paper is often used for receipts and labels. Thermal printers are not compatible with other types of substrates, which limits their versatility.

Cost of Consumables

Inkjet printers are notorious for being expensive to operate, mainly due to the cost of ink cartridges. The cost of a single ink cartridge can be quite expensive, and most inkjet printers require multiple cartridges to operate. Over time, the cost of ink cartridges can add up, making inkjet printers more expensive to operate than thermal printers.

Thermal printers, on the other hand, are more cost-effective to operate. Since they use thermal paper instead of ink, there is no need to purchase expensive ink cartridges. The only consumable cost associated with thermal printers is the cost of paper.

Speed and Efficiency

When it comes to speed and efficiency, thermal printers are a clear winner. Since they use heat to transfer the image onto the paper, they can print at a much faster speed than inkjet printers. Thermal printers are also more reliable and require less maintenance, making them ideal for high-volume printing environments.

Inkjet printers, on the other hand, are slower and less efficient when it comes to high-volume printing. The ink cartridges often need to be replaced, which can slow down the printing process significantly.

Print Quality

Both inkjet and thermal printers are capable of producing high-quality prints, but the print quality is different between the two types of printers. Inkjet printers use liquid ink, which allows for more precise and detailed printing. Inkjet printers are often used for printing photographs and other high-resolution images.

Thermal printers, on the other hand, use heat to transfer an image onto paper, resulting in a slightly lower print quality. Thermal printers are best suited for printing simple text, barcodes, and other basic graphics.


While both inkjet and thermal printers have their advantages and disadvantages, the choice between the two ultimately depends on the specific needs of the user. Inkjet printers are versatile and can print on a variety of different substrates. However, they are more expensive to operate and are less efficient when it comes to high-volume printing.

Thermal printers, on the other hand, are less versatile but are more cost-effective to operate and are faster and more efficient for high-volume printing. Deciding which printer to choose depends on your specific printing needs and budget.


Professional Laser Marking Machine Manufacturer Since 2009. Correct Pack is a technology-based enterprise focusing on the design, development and production of marking and coding products, which are widely used in food, pharmaceutical, daily chemical, hardware and other industries.
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