View Full Version : Can thermal printers be fixed?

June 18th, 2008, 01:15 AM

After I read somebody's post saying he'd never had a problem with a computer's capacitors not working I fired up the terminal that I'd won on the 'Bay. It didn't strike me as user friendly, printing out two cryptic lines of text and then beeping at me and flashing it's "error" and other lights.

The switch for local mode wouldn't depress, so I figured that I'd have to actually try it on the phone before I could tell if it works at all. But I couldn't help but notice that a few elements of the thermal print head aren't functioning.

I was just wondering if there is anything you can do to fix these, like cleaning the print head, to get them going again. Or am I stuck with yet another non-functional historic artifact?


July 1st, 2008, 03:11 AM
A thermal transfer printer is a printer which prints on paper (or some other material) by melting a coating of ribbon so that it stays glued to the material on which the print is applied. It contrasts with Direct Thermal printing where no ribbon is present in the process[1].

Usage of TT printers in industry includes:

barcode labels (as labels printed with thermal printer tend not to last long), or for marking clothing labels (shirt size etc)
Printing plastic labels for chemical containers (because the cheaper types of plastic would melt in a laser printer)
Barcode printers typically come in fixed sizes of 4 inches, 6 inches or 8 inches wide. Although a number of manufacturers have made differing sizes in the past, most have now standardised on these sizes. The main application for these printers is to produce barcode labels for product and shipping identification.

The printers use a fixed width thermal print head, pressing onto a paper or plastic label, over a driven rubber roller called a platen. Between the print head and the label is sandwiched a very thin thermal transfer ribbon (or sometimes called "foil"), which is a polyester film which has been coated on the label side with a wax, wax-resin or pure resin "ink". The ribbon is spooled onto reels up to 625 meters (1965 feet) long and is driven through the printing mechanism in sync with the labels, at speeds of up to 12 inches per second (although 6 inches per second is adequate for most applications).

July 1st, 2008, 12:10 PM
When Tandy used to make thermal printers (the kind that used the silver thermal paper), they used to include a sheet of very fine sandpaper that you would run through the printer that would take the oxides and crap off the heads.

I'm talking VERY fine here and, no, it's not a joke. You might want to try it as opposed the taking the head out and messing with it.