What Are Continuous Form or Continuous Feed Printers?

Continuous Feed Printers (or Continuous Form Printers) are Made for Pin Feed and Tractor Feed Printing

Continuous feed printers are specialized printing devices designed for high-volume and uninterrupted printing tasks. They can accommodate various printing technologies, including impact printing and laser printing, and are compatible with fanfold paper. Additionally, they are versatile in producing labels, barcodes, and QR codes while advancing the fanfold paper through pin feed or tractor feed mechanisms.

If you want to print on fanfold paper, you’ll want a continuous feed printer.

Now let’s talk about the different types of continuous feed printers.

Continuous Feed Laser Printing

Continuous feed printers that incorporate laser printing technology use a laser beam to produce high-quality text and graphics on paper. There are two laser technologies available, flash fusion and heat roller pressure technology. Continuous feed laser printers are favored for their ability to generate professional-looking documents, such as invoices, statements, and reports, with speed and precision. They are ideal for applications where quality is paramount in high-volume print jobs.

Compare Flash Fusion vs. Heat Pressure Roller Technologies

AttributesFlash Fusion Laser PrintingHeat Roller Pressure Laser Printing
Uses a xenon flash lampUses heat and pressure rollers
Fusing Speed &
Energy Efficiency
Achieves high fusing speeds; Energy-efficient due to short bursts of heatOperates at slightly slower speeds; Uses continuous energy for gradual heating
Print QualityProduces sharp, high-quality prints with good detailCapable of good-quality prints; May not offer the same level of detail and sharpness
Maintenance & DurabilityLonger lifespan; Requires less frequent maintenanceMay require more frequent maintenance; Shorter lifespan due to continuous operation of heating elements and rollers
Continuous Form Laser Printer ModelsMicroplex F140F90F60HDF40,  SATO LP 100RMicroplex F44F34, and the refurbished F32
Key Differences in Laser Printer Technologies

Continuous Form Impact Printing – Dot Matrix Printers & Line Printers

Continuous feed printers using impact printing technology rely on mechanical force to transfer ink onto the printing medium. They often employ mechanisms such as dot matrix or line matrix printheads to create characters and images. These printers are suitable for tasks that require multi-part forms or carbon copy documents and are known for their durability and cost-effectiveness.

Fanfold Label Printing

Continuous feed printers are also adaptable for label printing, enabling the production of adhesive labels for various purposes. This capability is particularly valuable in industries that require product labeling, shipping labels, and other applications where adhesive-backed labels are necessary.

Continuous Feed Barcode Printing

Continuous feed printers are equipped to generate barcode labels, facilitating inventory management, tracking, and point-of-sale systems. Barcode printing is essential in industries like retail, logistics, and healthcare, where efficient data capture and management are crucial.

Tractor Feed QR Code Printing

Continuous feed printers can create QR codes, which are widely used for marketing, information dissemination, and data retrieval. QR codes are versatile and can be applied to a multitude of business and consumer-facing applications.

Fanfold Paper with Pin Feed or Tractor Feed Mechanisms

Continuous feed printers are designed to work seamlessly with fanfold paper, which is a type of continuous stationery. Fanfold paper is connected in a fan-folded stack with perforations along the edges, allowing for continuous and uninterrupted paper feeding. This paper is advanced through the printer using either a pin feed or tractor feed mechanism. Pin feed employs sprocket-driven pins that engage with the paper’s perforations, while tractor feed uses rotating rubberized tractor wheels to pull the paper. These mechanisms ensure precise paper positioning and consistent advancement, crucial for maintaining an uninterrupted and efficient printing process.

In summary, continuous feed printers are adaptable to a variety of printing technologies, making them versatile solutions for numerous industries and applications. They can handle impact and laser printing, label production, barcode printing, and QR code generation while efficiently utilizing fanfold paper with either pin feed or tractor feed mechanisms to ensure continuous and precise paper feeding.

Continuous Feed Laser Printer Brands/Manufacturers

Continuous Feed Impact Printer Brands/Manufacturers

High Speed, Industrial Line Matrix Printers

Heavy Duty Dot Matrix Printers

  • Dascom
  • Compuprint
  • Epson
  • Okidata – No longer sold in the US
  • Lexmark
  • Panasonic
  • IBM – Discontinued

Frequently Asked Questions About Continuous Feed Printers

What is the Difference Between Continuous Feed Printers and Page Printers?

The difference between continuous feed printers and page printers is significant and impacts their usage considerably. If you’re looking for a printer that can handle high-volume printing, print at high speeds, and accommodate continuous roll paper, then a continuous feed printer is an excellent choice. However, if you need to print small to medium jobs, or you are looking for a printer for home or general office use, then a page printer is ideal. Ultimately, the printer you choose should align with your printing needs, budget, and printing environment. Whether you choose a continuous feed printer or page printer, ensure to select one that meets the standards of your printing needs.

How can a laser printer print continuously?

For a laser printer to print continuously, it needs to handle fanfold paper with a tractor feed or a pin feed mechanism. But most laser printers aren’t equipped with a tractor feed. This means you’ll need to purchase a continuous form or continuous feed laser printer to do the job.

Can you print continuous feed paper with a modern printer?

Printing on continuous feed paper is possible with a modern printer, but you need to make sure your printer can handle this kind of paper and adjust the settings accordingly. Choose the right paper size and thickness, adjust your ink usage and print quality settings, and keep an eye on the paper output to ensure your prints come out clean and clear. If you need to print large amounts of documents that require perforations for easy separation, using continuous feed paper in a modern printer can be a more cost-effective and efficient option.

What are the most common uses of continuous feed printers?

  • Large-Scale Printing – The most common use of continuous feed printers is in large-scale printing environments. These printers are a perfect fit for producing high volumes of documents in short periods and require minimal supervision.
  • Labels and Barcodes – Continuous feed printers are great at printing labels and barcodes, as the printers can produce thousands of labels in quick succession. This makes them great for businesses that require a lot of labeling, such as in a retail scenario or in the manufacturing industry. Their speed and consistency make them the preferred option for these kinds of printing needs.
  • Security Printing – Continuous feed printers are commonly used to produce secure documents, such as checks or credit cards. These printers use advanced security measures to ensure that information is not copied or duplicated. They also allow for personalized printing with unique serial numbers and watermarks for added security.
  • Direct Mail Marketing – Another commonly related use of continuous feed printers is direct mail marketing campaigns. This allows businesses to have personalized printing options and produce high volumes of mail with minimal effort. These printers are great for printing postcards, flyers, and catalogs that can be sent to potential customers.
  • Large Format Printing – Continuous feed printers can also handle large format printing. This means that they can produce large banners and posters that can be used for outdoor advertising and other events. The printers are also used in the production of wallpapers and murals by interior designers and architects.