If you purchase paper rolls regularly, you are likely using them in an adding machine, credit card machine or POS cash register. These are small rolls of very thin paper that look extremely similar to one another. However, there are some differences and while they are small, they can impact what you pay, the print on the paper and more.

One of the primary things you need to figure out is whether or not you need regular bond paper rolls or thermal rolls (for thermal printers). Here you can learn more about these paper rolls options and which one is right for your printer.

Thermal Rolls

If you have a thermal printer, you are going to have to use thermal paper – it is that simple. However, do you know what thermal paper is, or how it works?

Thermal paper is not the same as bond paper because it is coated with a mixture of chemicals and dye. When the paper is heated above the melting point, the dye will react to the chemicals and cause a shift to a color (usually black, but sometimes red or blue). The print head used by the machine is able to heat the proper areas of the paper, which make it legible.

Thermal Paper Layers

There are three different layers that make up thermal paper, but you would never know this by just looking at it. These layers include:

  • Substrate layer: The paper.

  • Base layer: Serves as a binding element that is made from alkali salts, gelatin and starches. This is what lets the heat move through the paper.

  • Active layer: This is where the chemicals that make the paper react to heat are found.

There is also an additional fourth layer on some types of thermal paper that is called the protective layer. This prevents the paper from fading.

Identifying Thermal Paper

Now that you understand the way thermal paper works, you need to know how to identify it. Since thermal and bond paper rolls look identical, you have to read the packaging. It will let you know whether or not you have thermal or bond paper. You can also tell a difference when you feel the paper. Thermal paper is slick to the touch and difficult to write on with a pen, while bond paper is just like traditional paper.

When to Use Bond Paper?

If you don’t have a thermal printer, you will need to purchase bond paper rolls. These will not contain any type of chemical coating and similar to traditional copy paper.

Make sure you take the time to figure out what type of paper your credit card printer needs, otherwise, you will not be able to print anything. Thermal paper won’t work in machines that require bond paper, and vice versa. When you know what you need, you will be able to print without issues.