Choosing the Best Thermal Paper for Your Mobile Application

When it comes to proof of delivery (POD) documents, invoices, payment receipts, pick lists and other documents, choosing the right materials to print them on is of the utmost importance.

Direct thermal paper is much different than standard paper—it contains chemicals that allow the paper to produce an image once heat is applied, and there are many different formulations to choose from. While the materials may look the same, the chemical consistency of the material affects its resistance to external factors, such as moisture and heat. In fact, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing thermal paper to best suite your needs.

Heat
When temperatures exceed 140˚ F, direct thermal materials will chemically react and become unreadable. If documents are left in vehicles, where the internal temperature can reach 150˚F in the summer, special consideration needs to be taken. Some thermal materials are formulated to withstand higher temperatures, so think about how and where you will be using them before choosing.

Moisture
If your documents will be exposed to moisture, either because they are issued outdoors or will be stored in a humid area, it’s important to select paper with additional moisture resistance or a synthetic material.

Thickness
Thicker paper is generally more durable and perceived to be higher quality, but the thicker the material, the less of it there is per roll, resulting in fewer documents that can be printed before needing to change the roll. Consider how often staff will be able to take the time to change the roll vs. your desired level of thickness.

Archivability
If you are going to need to store and reference documents for a long period of time, you need to choose a durable paper and store it under the proper conditions.

Topcoating
While all thermal papers have a basecoat and a thermal coat, not all have a topcoat, which provides an extra layer of protection. They can even be formulated to provide protection against specific things, such as water, sunlight or humidity.

Once you decide where your document will need to be and what it will need to be exposed to, you can choose a material that will best suite your needs. Zebra Technologies offers a large selection of thermal materials, both paper and synthetic that will be able to support all of your documents’ needs. Learn more about their product offering.