The World of Printer Accessories

by pateluday

Printers have revolutionized visual communication. But ink ribbons, cartridge and thermal paper are indispensable accessories, without which the machines would fail to function.

The technologies are inextricably linked. Computers, printers, and accessories create a business ecosystem since they cannot work out in isolation. Though the market volume is much dependent upon the principal application, the accessories are market drivers and create a lot of buzz in online stationery stores and comparison sites. They belong to a product category that exhausts or expires after usage creating a recurring demand.

Whence calculating the market size we cannot neglect the consumer who guided is by sound business principles, and global trends. Product choice is always dominated by consumer preferences and the industrial applications.

Thermal paper, Ink cartridges, and inked ribbons are perhaps the most traded accessories. They form a substantial volume of sales as printer accessories online and in stationery shops. Although sales of each item vary in value nevertheless, they together constitute impressive sales volume internationally.

The trade volume is related to the usage of technology, but even printers that first evolved are still in use today. They will continue to cross over market challenges as their application is not only technology dependent but many factors rule. Demand, the economy of use, and ease of usage all play an important role in stabilizing old technologies.

Servicing Business

Servicing Businesses
Servicing Businesses

Dot Matrix Printer

Inked Ribbons

Printing Technology

The ink-soaked ribbons date back to the era whence typewriters found exclusive usage in offices and in many homes. The simple machine impacted the paper whence pushed by alphabetical and numerical keys. The output was a printed page for communication but it was near impossible to create a sketch or a picture using this monochrome technology.     

The ink ribbon as a typewriter accessory though pushed into the background finds wider usage in cash registers, POP, printer calculators, and the erstwhile fax machine. This accessory has constantly evolved and is kept in tandem with emerging technologies. The most productive usage besides the typewriter has been in the noisy and obtrusively large dot matrix printers as ribbon cartridges. The dot matrix printers due to ease of use and economy are very much in use not only in the US but all over the globe. In fact, economies behind time are using these machines the most, but that does not leave usage in advanced Nations like the US behind where the demand is still substantial. The cost of usage is considered in the case of these printers in spite of output being slow and limited.    

Also called printer ribbons, the usage is now on a bewildering scale, and you can find them being used in a number of small packing machines in diverse industry sectors. The ribbons soaked in ink are made of plastic, paper, and many other materials. They can be used to print on plastic or paper packing besides making an impact on cardboard, cloth, and films.  Some printer ribbons are designed for printing logos and bar codes of various types of materials. 

In the market, the ink ribbon is available as a cartridge or spool of various sizes. This is done to facilitate the use of printers and many other small machines. During the process both the ribbon and the paper move in unison. This movement takes place under the head which thus transfers the ink into desired shape and size which are usually alphabets, but dot matrix printers can create some designs as well.  

Contemporary Printers

Ink Cartridge

Ink Jet Printer Cartridge

InkJet Cartridges 

The fastest output among the modern day machines is that of ink jet printers. And Yes! You have guessed it right the ink cartridge is used in inkjet printers. As a component it is expensive and exhausts earlier than other accessories. Nevertheless, it is most popular in both homes and offices for short haul works and spectacular prints with dazzling color output.  

The critical function of these components is to deliver ink to the print head. The continuous ink systems are those which provide unstoppable printing since the head is connected with large ink tanks or packs that keep filling the inbuilt cartridges.  

The ink cartridges are used in majority of these printers which are noiseless and accord fine prints thanks to quality ink that flows to the heated heads smoothly.  The components are available for printers containing monochrome as well a color ink. 

In spite of wide spread use the cartridge do have some disadvantages. The chip integrated within the cartridge can deliver empty message whence actually enough ink is available. The nozzle gets clogged sometimes leading to cleaning now and then.  The OEM cartridges are costly and the generic versions consumers resort to may not be quality driven although much cheaper.   

As a business model the manufacturers sell the printer at low cost and make up for the loss by raking in good profits from cartridge sales. This has given rise to refills and generic products. The ink cartridge market is one of the most volatile and there is a constant change in availability price with frequent wholesale or discount offers.  


Working of Laser Printer

Sticky Thermal Paper

Sticky Thermal Paper
Sticky Thermal Paper

Thermal Papers

Chemical Coated Papers

Evolution and advancement in technology is a natural course of action to create a niche and outdo competition besides attracting consumers with something new and spectacular.  Thermal printers are the latest among printers that have succeeded in carving a niche for themselves. 

These printing machines use specially coated papers which react to heat imparted by the head. These are known as thermochromic or thermal papers and are available in rolls and in sheets as well though less often. 

Unlike the inkjet printers, the thermal printers can print in black and an additional color and therefore they more used for commercial purpose. This is sort of digital printing, and the paper is coated by a number of chemicals which help impart the desired results upon heating.

Being lighter and compact,  they are more useful in portable and retail applications like at the point of sale systems, kiosks, ATM machines, petrol pumps, retail stores and restaurants.  

In the market and online stores quality thermal paper is available as roll in bulk quantities. The rolls come in various size and lengths. The paper is being manufactured all over USA, and in many other countries. The outlets are usually stationery dealers and wholesaler appointed by the manufacturers  themselves. After the advent of Internet another venue that has come to for are the online stores and product comparison sites. 

Updated: 12/02/2022, pateluday
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pateluday on 07/04/2021

The purpose and applications differ hence they will remain in their slots with little threat from each other.

DerdriuMarriner on 07/03/2021

pateluday, Thank you for pictures, practicalities and products.
It's almost necessary with the limitations of inked ribbons and the shelf-life of inkjet cartridges to have both sets of compatible printers and inks...until one or the other overcomes the drawbacks and leaps ahead of the other. Or will thermal printers outdistance them both?

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