On a weekly basis, our Law Enforcement team speaks with agencies looking for mobile printers, printer paper and eCitation equipment. Whether they are printing e-tickets, accident reports, or other types of forms on the roadside, we hear the same questions asked again, and again. This Thermal Media FAQs blog is meant to answer the questions that are on your mind about mobile printing and media – and other agencies have asked them too!

Thermal Media FAQs 

pocketjet 7 thermal media

What are in-vehicle printers used for? 

Mobile printers, like Brother’s PocketJet® and Printek’s™ Interceptor, are used for on-the-go Law Enforcement applications such as eCitations, warrants, parking violations, AMBER Alerts, collision reports, summons, and other various warnings, violations, notices, and reports.

These compact, mobile printers fit conveniently in your small, patrol vehicle environment. They also work seamlessly alongside the 4910LR Driver’s License Scanner and other eCitation equipment to increase efficiency and safety while on patrol. Quality in-vehicle printing eliminates sloppy and error-prone handwritten forms, making life easier for your administrative clerks. 

How does thermal printing work? 

First off, it’s important to understand that thermal printing is different from the traditional inkjet printing that most are used to at home or at an office. Thermal printing does not use any ink or toner, so there is very little maintenance involved. Instead, when thermal paper comes in contact with the printer’s print head, chemicals in the paper react to the output of heat from the printer, which then creates the desired text and images on the paper.  

Visit the “Printers for your Patrol Vehicle” page to understand why thermal printing is the smart choice for in-vehicle printing. 

What’s the difference between continuous vs. perforated paper? What do most agencies prefer? 

Preference varies based both on personal choice and your applications. Perforated paper is typically preferred for standard 8.5×11” printing because you can print what you need, then easily tear the citation off along the perforation. Continuous paper is good for ‘off-size’ printing so you can tear off the citation wherever the document ends, regardless of the size of the ticket. Fan-folded paper is a third option that is most common for 4-inch printers used on motorcycles, bicycles, mounted and foot patrol.

Can I use standard office supply paper in my patrol vehicle? 

No, not if you have a thermal mobile printer. Though all paper might look the same at a glance, standard paper does not contain the chemicals required to react with a thermal print head. If you try to use just any type of paper in your thermal printer, you’ll be printing a blank piece of paper. Though standard office supply paper is less expensive than thermal paper, keep in mind that you would be purchasing pricey ink cartridges as well.  L-Tron’s thermal paper is compatible with thermal patrol vehicle printers by Brother, Printek, Zebra, and other leading manufacturers. 

How do I load my thermal paper into my printer?

Loading thermal paper is pretty straightforward. Simply feed the end of the paper into the top slot on the printer and the roller will grab onto the end of the paper. We recommend using both hands to feed the end of the paper in so that the paper is fed in straight.

If you are concerned about curling paper that has come from a continuous or perforated roll, consider purchasing a rugged case that holds both the printer and the paper and flattens the paper as it prints. Here is a helpful video explaining exactly how to load a roll of paper into your Brother PocketJet® printer inside its case. 

It’s just paper. Does quality matter? What about cost? 

Yes, quality matters. Different types of thermal paper react differently to heat, sunlight, humidity and moisture due to thickness and chemical makeup. Low-quality paper can wear down if exposed to sunlight on a car dashboard, moisture in a vehicle cup holder, or left in a wallet for too long. A high-quality paper is durable, weather-resistant, and tear-resistant. 

While quality and cost can be closely related, it is possible to purchase high-quality paper at economical rates. L-Tron offers high-quality, thermal paper that is compatible with PocketJet®7 and other leading patrol vehicle printers. Our paper is much less expensive than competitor paper and just as durable.

What does archival rating mean? What is the shelf life of thermal paper? 

Thermal printer paper is granted an archival rating to indicate the intended lifespan of the paper based on its reaction to heat, sunlight, humidity and moisture. The patrol vehicle environment can be unpredictable and fast-paced. The last thing you need to worry about is your printer paper. L-Tron’s perforated and continuous paper rolls have a long-lasting archival rating of 10+ years to stand up to the elements – this includes rolling around in your trunk, spills and other unforeseen conditions. 

What if I need to print fine details? 

If you have detailed logos, custom forms, or any other unique needs, contact us. There are a variety of printer models, sizes, and types of paper available to meet custom printing requirements. We can take a closer look at your specifications and help you select the best printer and paper for your needs. 

What is the lead time on thermal paper? How quickly will it ship to me? 

Most thermal paper ships within a couple days from the time of your order, but lead times can take up to two or three weeks in some cases. Please contact us to discuss the specifics.  

headrest printer mount

We hope we were able to answer all of your thermal media FAQs. As always, our Law Enforcement support team is just a phone call away. If you have additional questions or want to more information on our thermal media options, call us at (800) 830-9523.