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Why Thermal Printers Have A Place In Today’s Modern Kitchens

Why Thermal Printers Have A Place In Today’s Modern Kitchens

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Last week, I had a chat with John Maieli, a Channel Partner Executive at Star Micronics America. He told me some fascinating things about modern kitchens and printers. Having worked in professional kitchens for nearly two decades, John knows a lot about them–the needs of the people who work there and their concerns regarding new equipment.

As a Digital Content Specialist, I am the voice between Star Micronics and the outside world, so, naturally, people come to my team and me whenever they have a message that needs to get out to the public. But John came to me with more than a message. He had a vision: thermal printers in professional kitchens across the country. As we spoke, he tried to mellow his excitement, but I certainly caught the twinkle in his eye. I told him I wanted a more formal conversation, an interview if he could give me an hour. He agreed.

Here’s our talk:

What has your experience been in a professional kitchen?

I have over 16 years experience in professional kitchens. I started at age 14 working in a wedding cake bakery owned by a family friend. It turned into a passion, so I attended Johnson & Wales University, where I received a BS in the science of baking & pastry. I went on to work in a chocolate and sugar school, a 5-star, 5-diamond hotel and resort, a Michelin star restaurant, fine dining restaurants, a platinum country club, fast-casual dining, and a bakery.

Chef in kitchen cooking
Wow! So you know a thing or two about all kinds of professional kitchen atmospheres. You must be aware that impact printers are regulars there, then. Thermal is usually frowned upon, but you think otherwise. Why? How do thermal printers have a place in professional kitchens too?

Kitchens have come a long way over the years. Many are very modern, with electronic gadgets everywhere, including kitchen display systems (KDS) on computer screens. In today’s modern kitchens, where heat and grease are kept under control, there is a place for thermal printing. I see thermal printers like the mC-Print3 as essential peripherals to the modern kitchen KDS.

I see what you mean. If there are computer screens in a kitchen, then thermal printers can also be there.

Honestly, even in a kitchen without a display system, this printer would shine. The mC-Print3 is seriously the ultimate printer. It has so much that any modern kitchen would benefit from.

So, you know all about Star's printing solutions. What are some of the advantages the mC-Print3 thermal printer would have over impact printers in the kitchen?
  • Speed – thermal printers are faster than dot-matrix printers resulting in faster ticket times. Some on-the-fly needs for printed tickets (last-minute changes, birthdays, allergies, seat changes, etc.) can be made quickly without staff waiting for the tickets to print.
  • No ribbons – no changing of ink ribbons needed. Thermal heads don’t need to be changed as regularly as ink ribbons. Who wants to mess with that in a kitchen?
  • Less noise – thermal printers are quiet, which can be significant in suitable environments. If sound is necessary, a buzzer can be added so that there’s a ding or a buzz every time a ticket prints.
  • Print Flat Technology – tickets that come out of the mC-Print3 are flat, and they remain that way. No curling is excellent for longer tickets as you can see everything easily.
  • Wireless capability – there’s also an mC-Print3 with wireless capability, which is a great option to have. It doesn’t have to be stuck near the router. It can go wherever there’s a nearby outlet and it will still be connected.
  • Splash-proof/Insect-proof – critters and crud can’t get into the mC-Print3 and ruin the print head. Plus, its compact size makes cleaning a breeze. You can lift the printer with one hand – I know about cleaning restaurant kitchens… you only have one hand available to move things around!
What are some concerns you've heard about thermal printers in the kitchen, and how can they be avoided?

The biggest concerns I hear are heat, humidity, and not having multiple copies of tickets for different food prep stations. Yet heat & humidity are better controlled now more than ever. Modern kitchens are full of equipment with the same limitations as thermal printers. Would a tablet be installed under the heat lamp or on top of a fryer?

Software dictates coursing now, with a new ticket printed each time a course fires instead of the old ways. Chefs may be used to seeing black and red ink, but dish modifications are highlighted in other ways with thermal. At the end of the day, an order ticket is meant to be read.

As for not having carbon copies of tickets, most modern prep stations either are or should be equipped with individual printers if two or more stations need to come together on a single dish. Kitchen display systems simplify each process. The server sends tickets that go to either the hot or cold kitchen (salad station, for example) or the ticket fires to the pastry station for dessert.

It’s the same way tickets go to the bar instead of the kitchen. No more having to hand a blurred yellow carbon copy of an order to another station.

That's all very true. So, with all this talk of the "modern kitchen," what kind of establishments would you recommend the mC-Print3 thermal printer to?

I see the mC-Print3 as a benefit to any restaurant utilizing a KDS (kitchen display system). Paper tickets are essential in restaurants – that won’t be going away anytime soon – and any modern food station with an mC-Print3 installed would significantly upgrade functionality, speed, noise level, and overall look and feel.

Restaurants and resorts wanting to deliver a fresh, elegant dining experience, elevating the customer experience would do well to switch to thermal. I’m particular to the mC-Print3.

It certainly has an attractive design. Any further comments?

Yeah, I’d like to mention that Dot Matrix technology (for impact printers) started in the 1970s. It wasn’t at the point-of-sale (POS) then, and it wasn’t until the 80s that Star began manufacturing dot matrix for POS, but the SP700 series, the gold standard in kitchens today, is about 15 years old now.

This is just something to consider when making your next purchase with all the changes the industry is going through today. The mC-Print3 is future-proof, meaning you can change your KDS, your connectivity, and you won’t have to change your printer. It’s truly the ultimate printing solution.

Hear John talk more in-depth about this:

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