History of Thermal Printheads
The Development of Thermal Paper
Before the first thermal heads were made a patent for thermal paper was submitted.
Thermal paper is paper coated with a special layer formulated to change color when exposed to heat.
This was a novel discovery that allowed printing using a very simply system.
In the early 70’s, impact printing using thermal paper and a heat source was mainstream, but with the advent of thermal printheads quiet non-impact printing gradually began to see increased adoption.
Thermal Printheads and ROHM
ROHM was established in 1950 as a pioneer of chip resistors.
As many people know, resistance has the characteristic of generating heat when current flows. Following the advent of thermal paper, ROHM developed thermal printheads using proprietary technology, then started production of printers for electronic calculators.
Later, thermal printheads were used in fax machines, and due to their compact, simple structure and high density capability have since been adopted in barcode label printers.
In fact, requirements by the barcode label printer field have contributed to the technological innovation of thermal printheads.
In this sector high density, high speed printing in a compact size were demanded, so a variety of technologies were developed at the time to drive thermal printheads at high speeds.
This increased the demand for thermal printheads - in other sectors as well, with the largest market being the receipt printer industry represented by POS (Point of Sale) applications.
Thermal paper was not previously considered for receipts due to problems such as maintenance, but improvements in the shelf life and durability made by paper manufacturers have increased the viability of thermal paper, with many countries around the world now utilizing thermal printing for receipts.
In 2018 the market for thermal printheads reached 81 million units a year (ROHM study), and the demand is expected to only increase in the future.
As a leading manufacturer of thermal printheads, ROHM will continue to develop new products featuring superior reliability and performance that lead the competition.