What Is a Thermal Inkjet Printer?

by Jerel Jacobs

Printing technology has improved tremendously since the days of the first impact printers. A huge turning point in printer design was the invention of the inkjet printer. Inkjet printers are especially popular with consumers because they produce good print and picture quality at a reasonable cost. The most popular type of inkjet printer is the thermal inkjet design.


The first inkjet printer was marketed in 1976.


The thermal inkjet printer works by using tiny, electrically heated cartridges of ink. When the ink is heated, a tiny bubble rises to the surface and propels a tiny drop of ink onto printable media such as paper.


Thermal inkjet printers use cartridges filled with what is known as aqueous, or water-based, ink.

The Inventor

The process of using bubbles created by electrical current to perform the printing process was pioneered by Canon engineer Ichiro Endo in 1977. Canon went on to patent the term "bubblejet" for exclusive use with Canon printers.


Thermal inkjet printers are not to be confused with thermal printers. Unlike thermal inkjet printers, which use bubbles to jettison ink onto the print media, thermal printers work by heating thermal printing paper to produce images.