What is thermal faxing?

I need a fax machine for my business. What is a thermal fax machine and is it worth looking into?

That depends on your priorities. Thermal fax machines have some definite pros and some legitimate cons, so you’ll have to consider carefully before choosing one over an inkjet or laser fax machine/printer.

First, let’s talk about the pros. Thermal fax machines are generally cheaper. They also have fewer components, so they’re less likely to break or to require expensive repairs. A thermal fax machine relies on heat to darken the paper and create an image on it, so the only real component is the paper feed.

Now for the cons. A traditional thermal fax machine requires thermal paper in order to work. Thermal paper comes in rolls that can sometimes curl or be difficult to work with. The paper is specially made to work with the machine, and some people don’t like the feel or the chemical smell of it. Since a thermal fax machine, as I mentioned, uses heat to create an image, it means that the thermal paper can get ruined if it’s left in a hot place. It will darken when exposed to heat, damaging the quality of the fax and potentially obliterating the message. As such, thermal fax machines aren’t ideal if you have critical information or documents that need to be stored for a long time.

There’s also a middle route, which is a thermal transfer fax machine. This hybrid still uses the thermal method, but it doesn’t require speciality paper. The upside to these machines is that they’re cheap like a thermal fax machine but you can use regular paper, which is cheaper and won’t darken. The downside is that you have to buy thermal fax ribbons, which is a basic film that releases ink when heated by the printhead. Thermal ribbons run out of ink just like an ink cartridge, and that cost can add up, depending on the model of machine you get.

It’s up to you, but I would say that the thermal fax machine time has come and gone, and you’re better off using one that uses standard paper with easily-replaced ink or toner. Or, use internet faxing.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.