Monday, 10 July 2017

Thermal Paper – Application and Market Growth Analysis

In earlier times, a proof of purchase or contract was hand-written on a piece of normal paper with ink. As the economies expanded, people were more engaged in purchasing and so there arose a need to bring in the more automated process which could facilitate the provision of procuring a purchase receipt. So, to cater this growing need of receipt paper, the thermal paper was introduced. Thermal paper is a special type of paper that is differentiated from normal printing or writing paper by using certain chemicals and dyes on its surface. Moreover, this paper was thinner than printing paper and didn’t require any ink for printing text or images. It supported good quality printing, by applying slight heat, along with its other properties like UV, heat and moisture resistance to enhance its shelf life. This paper was then later being used in several industries like packaging, food, pharmaceuticals, etc. Thermal paper is different from regular printing paper as thermal papers have varied applications, hence it is coated with special chemicals and dyes to protect it from wear and tear and making it moisture and heat resistant up to 130ºC. Due to these properties, it was mainly used as tickets, receipts and tags as proof of purchase.
Thermal Paper Market
Thermal papers have majority of usage in airline tickets, gas stations and have wide adoption in Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminals in retail, hospital, entertainment and gaming, financial institutions, hospitality sector, government sectors, grocery stores, banking, healthcare institutes, chain restaurants, convenience stores, high-end specialty stores, and transportation mediums like bus or train. They are also widely used as ATM receipts. Another widespread use of thermal papers is in printing barcode enabled labels like food labels. They have excellent barcode scanning ability. They are UV resistant due to their dye coating, so it makes them suitable to use as packaging and parcel stickers. This implies that thermal papers have vast applications in inventory management, distribution management, and supply chain management. The thermal paper provides a clear print and have a lower cost of operation i.e. low maintenance cost and are known for their fast, quiet operation as required by the end-users like parking areas, bus tickets, entry passes etc. Thermal paper printed materials have good heat resistance i.e. the ability to withstand high temperatures, long durability and their ability to maintain good paper and printing quality even exposed to watery or oily surfaces.

Thermal papers have a short shelf life of about 3 years, after which the printing fades away significantly, rendering them useless as a proof or receipt. Thermal papers are sensitive to heat and tend to blacken the paper on the application of heat for a relatively long time. This might turn them unusable. The shift of population towards using the digital and electronic medium for shopping like e-commerce websites could be restraining the growth of thermal paper receipts in the future. Also, people are moving towards having e-receipts and contact-less payment systems like near field communication (NFC) and bank cards for most of their purchases which could be backed up on the cloud, giving them long shelf life and proof of purchase that could be retrieved on demand. In addition, the presence of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical which is an endocrine disruptor, upon consistent exposure to which for a long period might cause cancer. This might prove to be a deterring factor for the growth of thermal paper’s widespread acceptance and usage. Environmental concerns also might make people move from paper-based receipts to e-receipts and contact-less payment systems.

Thermal paper is extensively used as a throwaway receipt in the majority of the world. Adoption of cashless payment mechanisms like debit/credit card payments in developing economies like India has shown strong signs of growth in the usage of thermal paper payment receipts. Thermal paper has another innovative application in which payment receipts or parking tickets could be used in a creative way to have advertising messages, promotional offers, rebates, special coupons or logos printed on them so that people might get attracted to visit a specific store. Such type of advertising is cost effective and has a wide audience reach. Thermal papers also come in different variants where multicolour images could be printed providing more scope for advertising purposes. The world is witnessing an increasing number of holiday and gaming destinations like Singapore, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mauritius, Hong Kong, etc. These destinations attract the tourists as they have huge retail shopping malls, casinos and gaming parlours, where there is the tremendous usage of thermal papers. This trend implies that there will be a good potential for growth in these holiday and gaming destinations. Also, there is a growing demand for certification labels for laboratory specimens and cold storage materials and tagging of assets. So, this is expected to drive the growth of thermal paper even further. Moreover, global automobile and chemical giants are expected to promote the use of labels and tags in coming years, further driving the growth of thermal paper market