The Evolution of Thermal to Plain Paper Fax Machines


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About fifteen years ago, businesses were leasing thermal fax machines that were priced at $1,500.00 to $2,500.00. Now you can buy a plain paper fax machine for under $150.00. Times sure have changed.

Thermal fax machines were the ones with the long roll of paper and each fax would be cut to the size that is transmitted. You could make some cool banners with those things because you could set them to not cut and it would continue to spit out the paper! They were pretty much bullet proof. The major problem was the paper. It would curl and you had a hard time working with it. If it was exposed to the sun or heat it would turn a dark black and all of the information was lost. They were very economical compared to laser or ink jet fax machines. The only supply that you were required to purchase was rolls of paper.

At the time of transformation most people didn’t rush out and buy plain paper faxes. They waited until either there fax machines went on the blink or the prices came down quite a bit. Up until five years ago you could still find a few still chugging away but now I believe they have completely vanished.

Plain paper faxes now have saturated the market and the prices have dropped so low that anyone can afford one. With rebates you may even get one for free. The only problem may be that you may not be able to afford the supplies that go into them. Laser, inkjet, and thermal transfer rolls are the options that you have. The cost per page varies but believe me when I say that the money is not in selling machines, it is in selling supplies. You can shop smart though and look at the cost per page. This is the price of the toner or supply divided by the supply yield. Spending a little more on the machine for a lower CPP can save you a bundle of money.

Some of the younger people that read this probably can’t even imagine ever using thermal roll fax machines but remember, times change and they change fast. What does the future hold for the fax machine of the future? Technology doesn’t stand still, so let’s wait and see!

Bill Tucker has been in the office equipment and supply industry for over 20 years and has several published industry related articles that help the end-user as well as the technician.

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