How to Choose a Receipt Printer for Your Business

Revel Blog | Revel Systems | October 15, 2021 |


If you own a company, chances are you print receipts. Most businesses, especially restaurants and cafés, use a receipt or bill printer to print out physical receipts for customers to document transactions. But with so many types of receipt printers out there, how do you know which one to choose? To help you make the right choice, let’s go over the types of printers you may need so you can select the perfect receipt printer for your business.

What is a Receipt Printer?

Typically a component of a point of sale (POS) system, a receipt printer is a device that — you guessed it — prints out receipts or credit card slips. Companies usually use point of sale printer technology to process payments during a purchase and clearly communicate with consumers following a transaction. However, printers aren’t used just for receipts. There are other parts of a company that might require a receipt printer to perform certain tasks. For example, many restaurants use kitchen printing to manage food orders in the kitchen.

There are three different kinds of receipt printers, including thermal receipt printers, inkjet printers, and impact printers:

  • Thermal receipt printers. Thermal printers are the most common type of receipt printer because they don’t require any ink. Instead, heat is used to print receipts through direct contact between the thermal paper and the thermal head. This kind of printer produces high-quality receipts quietly and quickly.

  • Inkjet printers. Many companies choose not to use inkjet printers, since refilling the ink cartridges can quickly get expensive. The inkjet printers use heads that place small ink droplets on the receipt paper, which leads to high-quality printing with color.

  • Impact printers. This kind of receipt printer, also known as a Dot Matrix printer, is less expensive compared to thermal printers and inkjet printers. This comparison takes into account the cost of the printer itself as well as the operating costs, including replacement materials. Impact printers are great for use as a restaurant printer, as they work well in hot environments. This type of printer uses an ink ribbon and tiny pins to develop a series of dots that creates letters on receipts. The impact printer typically uses black and red colors on the receipts.

How to Use a POS Printer

How do you use a point of sale printer? First, you need to set up your receipt printer, a process that can differ from one brand or manufacturer to another. However, the setup process will likely work similarly to this:

  1. Connect your receipt printer to a power source and turn on the printer.

  2. Connect your printer to your device with whichever method you prefer.

  3. Install the device’s drivers from the included CD or the download from the website of the manufacturer.

  4. After installing the drivers, you should try to print something as a test with your preferred software.

  5. Adjust and configure the printer setting with your printing software or anything provided by the manufacturer.

  6. You’re ready to print receipts with your new POS printer!

The cost of a receipt printer can vary dramatically depending on a number of different factors, including the features provided (such as whether it's a USB receipt printer), the quality of the materials, the kind of printer, and the manufacturer. That being said, receipt printers usually cost somewhere between $35 to $1,000 for mobile receipt printers and between $25 and $4,000 for desktop printers.

One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll likely be using this printer all the time, so wear and tear will be significant. There are many different factors that impact the lifespan of a receipt printer, including how often the receipt printer is used, the material it’s made of, and the type of printer you buy. Depending on the printer you purchase, you might need to replace parts of the printer rather than replacing it entirely. 

Most receipt printers last somewhere between 10 to 15 years. The print head of a thermal receipt printer usually needs to be replaced after about 10 years. You can lengthen the lifespan of your printer by regularly maintaining and cleaning it and always using the printer within your manufacturer’s guidelines.

What is a POS Thermal Printer?

POS thermal printers are point of sale printers that work by heating the thermal paper, which has a special type of coating that reacts to the heat. The printer uses a thermal head to concentrate the heat in a particular pattern on the paper and therefore make text appear on the thermal paper. Thermal printers are available as both desktop printers and mobile receipt printers, depending on the needs of your business.

There are some pros and cons to using thermal printers. For example, thermal printers offer high-quality print and lower operational costs and are typically much quieter and faster than traditional receipt printers. 

However, thermal printers also tend to be more expensive upfront and the thermal paper is slightly more pricey than regular white paper. Thermal printers are also not great in high-temperature environments, like restaurant kitchens, because the heat causes the text on the receipt paper to fade away. You’re better off using something like an impact printer in a restaurant kitchen environment.

What are the Benefits of a Receipt Printer?

Receipt printers, especially POS thermal printers, provide a number of different benefits for businesses, both small and large. For example, thermal printers tend to be cost-effective, extremely efficient, and very reliable. Thermal printers are also flexible and can be integrated with various types of printing systems and labeling systems that your retail business already uses. Here are some of the top benefits of using a receipt printer in a retail business environment:

  • Receipt printers offer lightning-fast printing speed. It takes a lot of time for inkjet printers to work, as they need to physically place the ink on the paper. This can add extra waiting time for your customers and employees and lose revenue for your business. But with thermal receipt printers, you don’t need ink and these printers work extremely quickly to give you receipts in mere seconds. Thermal receipt printers give you faster receipt printing, faster checkouts for customers, more goods sold, more customers served, and more work accomplished by your employees. All in all, those lightning fast printers can boost the bottom line of your business.

  • The thermal printing process is less expensive. In addition to boosting your business’s bottom line through lightning fast printing speed, the thermal printing process can save you money as well. Anyone who has ever owned an inkjet printer knows how much money you can end up spending on ink cartridges, especially at the rate you’re printing receipts for your customers. But the great thing about a thermal printer is that it doesn’t need any ink. Instead, thermal printers print images onto the paper with ink, so you don’t need to spend all of that money on replacing your printing ribbons and ink cartridges. You can save a lot of money on operational costs by using a POS thermal printer and boost the bottom line of your business even more.

  • There is less of a need for maintenance. There is also much less of a need for maintenance when it comes to using a thermal receipt printer. Inkjet printers often break down or get jammed, and a pricey technician is usually needed to solve the problem. But there is way less of a chance of a breakdown with a thermal printer, since thermal printers don’t have as many components as traditional inkjet printers. If anything does go wrong with your thermal receipt printer, it’s typically much less expensive, much faster, and much easier to repair than an inkjet printer. So you can focus more on providing a great experience to your customers than maintaining your printer.

  • Receipt printers offer improved workflow efficiency. Even if your traditional inkjet printer works well with no jams or breakdowns, there are bound to be times when you need to stop the printer and replace the ink cartridges or printing ribbons. These ink-related interruptions can lead to workflow delays, which can negatively impact the flow of your business, as well as your bottom line. But with thermal printers, you can consistently print all of the receipts you need without any interruptions.

  • Receipt printers provide better quality images. Thermal printers also give you much better quality images than inkjet printers do. With inkjet printers, you often get ink smudges as soon as you touch the text or image on the paper. The ink could also be illegible or faded, especially if the ink is running low. But with thermal printers, you can develop and print long-lasting, high-quality, and clear images that are much simpler to read and better able to handle things like water damage, UV rays, and extreme weather conditions.

Invoice Printer vs. Receipt Printer

What’s the difference between an invoice printer and a receipt printer? Businesses typically use inkjet or laser printers to print invoices, while thermal printers and impact printers are usually used for printing receipts. 

Laser printers use static electricity and toner to transfer text and images onto printer paper, and inkjet printers use heads that place small ink droplets on the receipt paper, which leads to high quality printing with color. Thermal printers, on the other hand, use heat to print receipts through direct contact between the thermal paper and the thermal head, and impact printers use an ink ribbon and tiny pins to develop a series of dots that creates letters on the receipts.

POS systems are crucial for any business to track and document transactions, no matter which printer you use. With Revel Systems, you can even eliminate the receipt entirely! Our technology allows you to approach receipt printing with a technological spin, allowing you to move faster and more efficiently. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you take charge of your business receipts.

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