Global Thermal Papers Market: Snapshot

The global market for thermal paper continues to witness a steadily rising demand across end use sectors such as packaged food, marketing, and pharmaceuticals. The market is projected to witness a steady rise in growth opportunities in the next few years as well, thanks to regulatory measures focused on the standardization of quality aspects of products, especially in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The use of thermal papers in the food industry is projected to be complemented by the vast rise in demand for packaged food products in a number of emerging economies across the globe.

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The market is, however, likely to bear the brunt of factors such as the trending concept of e-receipts to reduce the usage of paper to, in-turn, reduce the impact on environment that massive tree-cutting for paper manufacturing entails and the strict regulations related to restrictions on the use of bisphenol A in papers coming in contact with food and beverages. Presently, however, or for the near future, the impact of e-receipts on the market for thermal paper receipts, which is one of the key application areas of the thermal paper market, is expected to remain moderate as a vast majority of consumers continue to prefer paper receipts across checkout counters or in ATMs.

The market will continue to remain highly competitive for companies as low profit margins require companies to continue to target bulk sales and alliances with repeat customers. With e-receipts inevitably taking place of thermal paper receipts in the next few decade or so, companies in the market will have to start focusing their growth strategies on new areas of application for sustainable profits.

Thermal Papers Market: Overview

Thermal paper is a special fine paper that is coated with a chemical bisphenol A (BPA) that changes color when exposed to heat. It is employed in thermal printers and particularly in inexpensive or lightweight devices such as adding machines, cash registers, and credit card terminals. The surface of the paper is coated with a solid-state mixture of a dye and a suitable matrix; a combination of a fluoran leuco dye as an example. When the matrix is heated above its melting point, the dye reacts with the acid, shifts to its colored form, and the changed form is then conserved in a metastable state when the matrix solidifies back quickly enough.

The reactant acid in thermal paper is often BPA. The coating generally turns black when heated, but coatings that turn blue or red are sometimes utilized. While an open heat source (such as a flame) can discolor the paper, a fingernail swiped quickly across the paper will also generate enough heat from friction to produce a mark. Direct thermal technology offers fast, noise-free printing with the lowest cost of ownership and a small footprint. Other benefits include mobility, full graphics capability, 600 dpi outputs, no ribbons or cartridges, a single piece of media per use, and little to no maintenance.

Thermal Papers Market: Dynamics & Trends

The chemical BPA is utilized for thermal paper coatings because of its stability and heat-resistance. This allows inkless printing for receipts from cash registers. People who often come in contact with BPA-coated receipts have a higher level of BPA in their bodies than people with average contact. Therefore, a resolution to ban BPA in thermal receipt papers was enacted recently.

Recently, bisphenol S (BPS), an analog of BPA that has been shown to have similar in vitro estrogenic activity to BPA, has been employed in thermal paper coatings. The recycling of thermal paper coated with BPS can introduce BPS into the cycle of paper production and cause BPS contamination of other types of paper products.

Polaroid recently developed the Zink (zero-ink) technology. The paper is utilized in compact photo printers. It has several layers: a backing layer with optional pressure sensitive adhesive, heat-sensitive layers with cyan, magenta and yellow pigments in colorless form, and overcoat. Zink technology allows the printing of full-color images in a single pass without requiring ink cartridges.

The color addressing is achieved by controlling the heat pulse length and intensity. The color-forming layers contain colorless crystals of amorphochromic dyes. These dyes form microcrystals of colorless tautomer’s, which convert to the colored form by melting, and retain color after re-solidification.

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Thermal Papers Market: Segmentation

Based on types of chemicals used, the thermal papers market can be segmented into leuco dyes, developers, sensitizers, and stabilizers. In terms of application, the thermal papers market can be segmented into point of sale (POS) receipts, entertainment tickets, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) labels, and others. In terms of region, the thermal papers market can be segmented into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa.

Thermal Papers Market: Region-wise Outlook

Globally, the market for thermal papers has been expanding due to innovative zero ink technology. The market has been expanding rapidly in Asia Pacific, especially in India, Taiwan, China, Japan, and countries in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the market in Middle East & Africa is anticipated to expand considerably due to the economic development in the region.

Thermal Papers Market: Key Players

Key players operating in the global thermal papers market include Polaroid, Ricoh, Nashua Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard.