thermal transfer printer

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thermal transfer printer A printer in which thermoplastic ink is transferred to paper from a donor roll or thin backing material by localized heating. This type of printer, introduced in 1982, is very quiet in operation, produces a good contrast image, and is mechanically simple in design. The print head is similar to that used in the earlier thermal printers that use sensitized paper, but the heating elements are usually smaller and thus allow the formation of a better character shape.

The printers may be serial or page printers. A speed of 100 characters per second has been achieved for good-quality serial printers and 4 pages per minute for line printers. The page printer can have a print head with as many as 3200 elements spanning an 8 width. A donor film, the same size as the page to be printed, is laid over the paper and they are passed beneath the print head. Successive donor films of different colors can be used to print full-color pictures.

Thermal transfer printers are capable of producing very good color images but the cost has largely caused them to be replaced by color inkjet or laser printers.