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Thermal Paper vs. Carbonless Paper: What’s the Difference?

May 22,2023

If you’ve ever been to a retail store or food joint, you might have noticed that the receipts given by the cashier are of two types:thermal paperandcarbonless paper. Though they may look identical at first glance, these two types of receipt papers have significant differences that set them apart. Here’s an overview of the key differences between thermal paper and carbonless paper.

What is Thermal Paper?
Thermal paper is widely used in point-of-sale (POS) transactions at retail stores and restaurants. The paper has a chemical coating that turns dark when exposed to heat. This coating is usually made of bisphenol A (BPA) or bisphenol S (BPS), which can cause potential health risks. However, many countries have restricted the use of BPA/BPS in thermal paper due to its harmful effect on human health.

What is Carbonless Paper?
Carbonless paper, on the other hand, uses a special coated surface that transfers ink from one page to another without the need for carbon paper. When someone writes on the top sheet, pressure is exerted which activates a dye in the underlying sheet to make a copy of the original writing. Carbonless paper is commonly used for invoicing, contracts, and other documents.

Differences Between Thermal and Carbonless Paper
One key difference between the two-ply papers is that thermal paper doesn’t require ink or toner to print, while carbonless paper does. Thermal paper uses heat to create an image, whereas carbonless paper requires physical contact with ink to transfer it onto another sheet. This means that thermal receipts are more durable than carbonless ones, as the latter rely on ink transfer which can fade over time.
Another critical distinction is that thermal paper is not environmentally friendly because of the chemicals used in its production. Carbonless paper, on the other hand, is made using eco-friendly materials. Carbonless paper is available in a variety of colors, unlike thermal paper, which often comes only in white.
Overall, both thermal and carbonless papers have unique characteristics suitable for different purposes. While thermal paper works well at POS transactions due to its instant printing, carbonless paper is better suited for creating multi-page documents, including orders and invoices. When choosing between the two, retailers, restaurants, or businesses should consider factors such as longevity, print quality, environmental impact, and intended usage.

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