Conclusion To conclude, you cannot use normal paper on a thermal printer. There is no way to print on thermal paper using a normal printer. Regular papers can only be printed using regular printers, and thermal papers can only be used with thermal printers. If you are running a business and would like to upgrade to thermal printers, you don’t have an option but to purchase thermal papers. They might be a considerable investment but will reduce your expenditure down the line. Order your thermal papers from Graphic Tickets today.

Can I Use Normal Paper on a Thermal Printer?

“Can you use thermal paper in a regular printer?” is among the common questions in the printing industry. While many would want this to be possible, the answer is no. Thermal printers can only work with thermal papers.

This is because the principle behind thermal printing technology involves a printing head heating thermal transfer paper with chemicals. The normal paper doesn’t have chemicals that will show text or images when heated.

Graphic Tickets stocks a wide variety of high-quality thermal papers that suit your needs.

What is Thermal Paper?

 thermal paper

Thermal printers are designed to work exclusively with thermal papers because of the heating mechanism used to print the images and text on them. Thermal papers contain a substrate, base, and active layer with heat-sensitive chemicals that react when heated to create an image or text. Some thermal papers may have additional protective layers to prevent fading of the text or images. In contrast, regular papers do not have heat-sensitive chemicals on their surface and rely on traditional ink to produce text and images. Furthermore, unlike thermal papers, regular papers are comparably thin and lucid. They are primarily available in two types: matte or glossy. For example, here’s a reference to 3 1/8″ thermal papers containing all the above qualities.

Installing thermal papers is easier than regular papers, which require ink ribbons and cartridges. Thermal printers produce high-quality output, are low-maintenance, and have a longer print lifespan than regular printers.

Thermal papers are made of two, three, or four layers determined by manufacturers. The layers include;

  1. The substrate layer – this is the ordinary paper material made from wood pulp
  2. The base layer, the precoat, smoothens the surface fibers to create a perfect printing surface. It also stabilizes the paper by absorbing activated dye after printing. This prevents heated dye from sticking to the printer head.
  3. The active layer, or thermal coating – is the layer that contains heat-sensitive chemicals. It contains chemical compounds that produce text and images when heated. The compounds are leuco dyes, sensitizers, and developers.

Some thermal papers contain additional protective layers at the back and front, preventing text and images in paper from fading. The layers are called reverse coat and topcoat, respectively. Visit Graphic Tickets’ website and find the best thermal paper suppliers suitable for all your business needs.

Also read:

What is Regular Paper?

Regular paper
Regular paper

Regular papers significantly differ from thermal papers in many ways. For starters, they don’t have heat-sensitive chemicals on their surface. As such, they rely on traditional ink to produce text and images. Secondly, unlike thermal papers, regular papers are comparably thin and lucid.

Regular papers are available primarily in two types – Matte or Glossy. Matte regular papers have a bright external layer, while glossy papers are shiny. Most people cannot decide which regular paper type they should use for their inkjet or laser printers. One example of a thermal paper roll size containing similar traits is the 2 1/4″ thermal paper roll.

Generally, if you want to print draft copies, you shouldn’t focus too much on the quality. Therefore, you can use plain printing paper. However, for final copies or colored presentations, thick-coated matte paper is a good choice as it produces sharper colors and better resolution.

Difference Between Thermal Paper and Regular Paper?

Thermal paper and regular paper primarily differ in their functionality. Some of the key differences include;

  1. Installation

Steps to install thermal papers are easy compared to regular papers. Regular papers can only be printed using traditional inkjet printers, which require ink ribbons and cartridges. While the print quality of these printers is above average, the mess associated with using ink was common.

On the other hand, thermal printing paper uses thermal printing technology. These printers don’t need much, primarily using heated printer heads to create texts and images. So, apart from clear printing, you won’t have to worry about frequently buying ink cartridges and ribbons.

  1. Quality of printing

As mentioned, the risks of smudging ink over receipts and printed papers were real with traditional printers. In addition, receipts from regular papers exposed to harsh environmental conditions also started fading, shortening their lifespan.

On the other hand, there is no risk of smudging ink over paper with thermal printers. Thermal papers produce high-quality output using a thermal print head to produce text. The papers are also high-quality, eliminating the risks of ink drops and fading.

  1. Cost

The cost of printing is another major difference between regular and bpa free thermal paper. Therefore, you should embrace business practices that minimize costs while maximizing returns like other businesses. Interestingly, printing costs are one of the most overlooked production costs.

Using regular printers for your business means that you will have to buy ink cartridges and ribbons frequently. You will also incur some printer maintenance costs. However, this isn’t the case with mini thermal printer paper.

Thermal printers have very few moving parts, which reduces maintenance costs. Your only expense will be buying thermal papers, which you can source affordably from reliable dealers, such as Graphic Tickets.

  1. Print lifespan

Regular papers and thermal papers also have different print lifespans. Thermal papers are the best choice for those who want long-lasting prints. Unlike ink cartridge prints, thermal head prints last for decades. As a result, businesses, organizations, and customers can preserve records of previous transactions for many years without worries of fading. In case you’re still curious about how long thermal papers can last, read this.

Also read:

Can Normal Paper Be Used in A Thermal Printer?

direct thermal printing

Unfortunately, normal paper cannot be used in thermal printers. As mentioned, normal papers rely on traditional ink cartridges. On the other hand, thermal printers use modern thermal printing technology, which only suits printing papers with thermal chemistry compounds on their surfaces.

What if I Want to Use Normal Paper to Print Receipts?

If you prefer using receipt paper for regular printers for your receipts, you should consider using traditional printers, such as inkjet or laser printers. While purchasing normal heat transfer paper is lower than buying thermal paper, you will incur additional costs, such as ink replacement, which significantly adds up the costs. Besides, regular printers also print more slowly than thermal printers. Therefore, it is best advised to always opt for good thermal paper quality. And an even better and cheap portable printer option is to make thermal paper purchases wholesale.

Also read:


To conclude, you cannot use normal paper on a thermal printer. There is no way to print on thermal paper using a normal printer. Regular papers can only be printed using regular printers, and thermal papers can only be used with thermal printers. If you face any issues with your thermal printer, you can refer to the guide on “what to do when the thermal printer is not printing clearly” on the Graphic Tickets website by clicking here.

If you are running a business and would like to upgrade to thermal printers, you don’t have an option but to purchase thermal papers. They might be a considerable investment but will reduce your expenditure. Order your thermal papers from Graphic Tickets today.


Written By
Mindy Timm

Mindy Timm is the Sales Manager for Graphic Tickets & Systems, where he gives guidance and helps the customer with getting the product that will perform the best for their needs. Dedicated to the end-user, he is enthusiastic about talking to people all over the U.S. and taking care of their thermal paper needs as quickly and efficiently as possible so they can worry about the other projects on their desk. As a Marine Veteran, he takes pride in his attention to detail to make sure that your thermal paper rolls will work in your machines. After hours, he spends his time as a volunteer firefighter. For more information about Mindy or thermal paper, please feel free to visit our website at

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can a thermal printer print on glossy paper?

Thermal printers cannot print on glossy papers. Glossy paper is a regular paper that inkjet printers can use. Inkjet printers use hundreds of tiny holes that eject ink on the paper. However, this isn’t the working principle of thermal printers. Therefore, you cannot use thermal printers to print glossy paper.

Do printers need specific paper?

Different printers need specific printing paper. For instance, thermal printers only work with thermal papers, while regular printers use regular papers. As for regular papers, inkjet and laser printers primarily don’t require specific papers. Instead, you can print using office copy papers.

Do thermal printers need special paper?

Thermal printers use special papers because of the printing technology behind these printers. They are inkless printers that use heat instead of ink to create imprints. Therefore, they can only produce imprints if the paper has heat-sensitive chemical compounds on the surface.

Can I use notebook paper for a printer?

You can print on different types of paper with your printer. Though thinner than copy paper, you can print on wide-ruled, narrow-rules, and graph notebook paper. However, since notebook paper differs from copy paper, make sure to adjust your printer settings accordingly.

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