Tips on Buying Wide-Format Printers for CAD, Part 2: Choosing the Right One
In part one of this series, I discussed ways to determine your needs. This is the most important step. It won’t matter what printer is purchased if it can’t do what you need it to do. This post will cover the different types of large format printers.
Inkjet or Laser?
There are many different types of printers to choose from. These days’ printers are typically either inkjet or laser. Dot matrix and pen plotters are rarely used anymore even though they can be fun to watch.
Inkjet printers are typically less costly than laser both in initial cost and in ink/toner refills. However they do not produce the same quality print as a laser nor are they as fast. One popular option for some CAD firms is to purchase a laser printer for black and white prints and an inkjet for color prints. For smaller document sized prints, a color laser printer could still fit within the constraints of a budget. Keep in mind your needs. If color, large format prints are produced on a daily or regular basis, then a large format laser printer may be required. The cost can be justified.
Printing documents is a key part of your office’s workflow. It’s important to remember your company’s needs when looking at large format printers to determine how many you need and what kind is best for you. If printing doesn’t happen very often then spend less. If printing happens often, spend what is needed to fit the workload.
When You Need More Than One
Many times more than one printer is needed. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead. Try to purchase the same kind, same manufacturer, same core size (for rolled media), the same everything as much as possible. This makes purchasing maintenance easier and less expensive. It also reduces the space needed to store items. If your two printers are different makes and models then they will require different ink or toner. You will need to purchase ink for printer one and ink for printer two and store them. However, if the two printers took identical ink cartridges then if you purchased one extra it can be used in whichever printer runs out first. Keep your maintenance costs down be making sure as many printers as possible use the same media, ink, etc.
Next I’ll discuss tips for setting up a new large-format printer.