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Receipt printers can sometimes be referred to as POS printers. POS stands for point of sale in the retail world, and it’s the combination of software and hardware that run modern cash registers.

Thermal Printer vs. Dot Matrix (Impact) Printer

Dot-matrix printers are usually louder and slower than thermal ones, but they’re more affordable and some of them have cheap ink.

A dot matrix printer uses tiny pins that impact a ribbon against paper whereas thermal printers come with a unique, heat-sensitive ribbon which is responsible for creating images on the paper.

Thermal printers aren’t as versatile as they can’t print on multiple platforms, but they’re swift, quiet and have fewer moving components.

If you’re working in an active restaurant or café, I’d recommend a thermal receipt printer. It would be more suitable for keeping up with your busy environment. It would also reduce the amount of time that the customer have to wait.

The Type of Connection

Depending on the POS system you use and the type of connection you need, there are four main categories through which you can judge whether the receipt printer you’re checking out is a right choice for you or not:

USB Connection

USB thermal receipt printers connect to computers or register using a USB cable.

LAN connection

LAN thermal receipt printers connect to a network router to execute orders.

WLAN connection

Wi-Fi enabled thermal receipt printers connect to Wi-Fi for wireless printing.

Bluetooth connection

These use Bluetooth to print from iPhones, iPads, and other Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices.

So it’s essential to decide how you’ll connect to your printer before you buy it for your counter.

Resolution and Speed

Like all printers, the resolution of a receipt printer is measured in dots per inches (DPI). The higher the DPI, the better the resolution.

On the other hand, the speed of the printer is measured in inches per second (IPS).

I’d recommend picking a printer with a higher IPS than DPI to reduce the lines to the register and offer the fastest possible service.


An auto-cutter automatically cuts the receipt after it has been printed to speed up the transaction.

I think it’s a pretty handy feature, but you can always suffice with the tear bar that allows you to tear off the receipt quickly and accurately.

Front of House vs. Back of House

Where your printer is going to be and whether the customer will see it makes a difference.

BOH (Back of House)

The back of the house is where you’ll need a tough and rugged printer that can withstand the spills, steam, particles, and heat. Otherwise, it will slow down or break down.

That’s why an impact printer would be a right choice as it also uses bond paper which can withstand a busy kitchen environment.

It also withstands humidity, and extreme temperatures and the loud noise they make is an excellent way to notify the cooks when orders come in.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use a thermal printer as a back of house one. But make sure that it’s splash-resistant, comes with warning buzzers and an insect-proof design.

Star Micronics’ SP700 two-color printer is a fast impact one built to withstand heat and humidity while still providing you with a clear and crisp font for your prints.

It also comes with a clamshell design to facilitate loading paper as well as an embedded power supply to be more space-efficient.

FOH (Front of House)

For a front of house printer, aesthetics are a little more important, and there’s less need to worry about hazards.

The sleek design of thermal printers gives them a more compact footprint.

Moreover, they’re pretty quiet and have higher resolutions than impact printers. So they printing crisp and clear images –which makes them suitable for printing receipt with nicer looks, receipts, or marketing information.

Star Micronics’ TSP100III is a tremendous high-speed (250 mm/second) thermal printer that has a very sharp auto-cutter which helps you finish your transactions at a quicker pace.

The Best of Both Worlds

Generally, I’m a person that likes getting a combination of the aspects of two different things. And that’s why I think that Star Micronics’ state-of-the-art mC-Print3 thermal printer a suitable choice for both FOH and BOH use.

It’s a fast, front-loading and front-exiting printer with a minimal footprint.

Moreover, it’s equipped with multiple connectivity options, including USB, Lightning USB, Bluetooth, and Ethernet, which allows you to connect it to any PC, tablet, or cloud-based application.

On top of that, it has a splash-proof flat-top design with an enclosure that protects it from hazards such as debris, insects, and water.