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Thermal sublimation printer

Thermal sublimation printing is intended solely for photo printing.

There are three main printing technologies: laser, inkjet, and thermal.


Introduction and operation of thermal printers


Thermal sublimation printers, or thermal printers, are intended solely for printing photos in the 10 cm x 15 cm format and its variations (10 cm x 20 cm, panoramic, etc.).

They are compact and lightweight, making them convenient for portable use.

Thermal printers are also known for their user-friendly nature. Moreover, they are autonomous and do not need to be connected to a computer or any other device to function.


The thermal printer vaporizes ink onto a translucent film in order to apply it to the printing medium using a heated tip.

Each primary color (yellow, magenta, and cyan) is sequentially vaporized onto the medium (special photo paper). The paper is rewound to its initial position after each color application. Finally, a layer of protective varnish is applied to the entire medium.

Unlike inkjet printing, no drying time is required for this type of printing.

Features of the thermal printer

The main features of a monochrome laser printer are:


Print quality

Also known as resolution, print quality is measured in dpi (dots per inch) or ppp (points per inch); the majority of thermal printers offer excellent print quality for photos with a resolution of 300 × 300 dpi.

Print speed

Print speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm), or more commonly in images per minute (ipm) for thermal printers; on average, this speed ranges between 30 and 60 seconds per photo.

Energy consumption

It is expressed in watts (W) and should be taken into account in standby mode (around 4 W) and during operation (can reach 40 W depending on the type of printer used).

Sometimes other photo paper formats can also be accepted: panoramic, 10 cm x 20 cm, etc.

We cannot exactly talk about duplex option with thermal technology, however, some models of thermal printers offer the possibility of obtaining a customized backside (mostly in the form of postcards).

Price of a thermal sublimation printer

The starting price of a thermal printer is around €100.

Most models are priced between €100 and €150.

It is also important to consider the cost per page of a thermal printer. On average, it ranges between €0.30 and €0.80 per page. This cost is easily calculable as manufacturers offer consumables for purchase in bundles, including ink cartridges and photo paper.

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