A wide format printer can be a useful device for companies that require large prints on a regular basis. Before you invest in a large format printer, it's important to determine what features you require and whether or not outsourcing your print jobs would be more cost effective in the long run.
There are a variety of large format options that fall short of actually purchasing a large format unit. Plenty of print shops are equipped to handle specialized, large format print jobs and turn around time is usually pretty reasonable. Whether or not this is a cost conscious move depends heavily on the amount you plan to use a large format printer. Smaller firms are typically better off outsourcing large print jobs that require technical knowledge. For example, if you only require large format printing about once a month, you run the risk of drying out the print heads (costly and time consuming to replace) as well as facing an unreasonable cost per print. However, if you frequently require poster size prints or large architectural plans, you might spend less money in the long run by producing these prints in house.
If you've decided that it's time to bring your large format printing in house, you have a few more decisions to make before you make your purchase.
Most plotters use inkjet technology to produce large, crisp prints. For a considerably larger investment, there are a variety of Piezo and LED printing technologies available. While inkjet technology is more cost effective, Piezo and LED printers can offer greater print quality and higher resolution.
There are a few multifunction plotters on the market that not only print large format pieces but can also perform vital office functions like large scale scanning and copying. Other plotters offer optional attachments that allow you to add scanning functions to your large format printer. The HP Designjet 820 is a multifunction plotter that offers brilliant, large format prints and also performs a variety of copying and scanning functions.
In addition to the variety of multifunction and ink options available in the plotter market, you should also consider the applications that your plotter will be used for. For example, if you are opening a poster business and need to produce identical prints, you will want to make sure you invest in a unit that will produce identical colors each time you print. In terms of color accuracy, you get what you pay for with a plotter. The Canon ImagePROGRAF iPF8000 offers outstanding color balance and consistency, but starts at over $5000. If you plan on printing a large volume of architectural or numbers based charts, you won't need to be concerned with color quality or consistency.
It's important to carefully determine what option is best for your office. If you decide that taking your large format printing to an outside source is best, be sure to use a licensed member of the Reprographic Services Association. If you are ready to take the leap to in house large format printing, remember to count on Super Warehouse for all of your large format printer and printer supply needs. Still have questions? Consult one of Super Warehouse's Technology Consultants.