Big Printers

Buying A Big Printer

So you have done a proper evaluation of your requirements and reached the conclusion that, you need a big printer. In our discussion, this would a printer that can print a width of around 3 feet or even more. Without getting into naming details, let us talk about the essentials that you should consider before making a purchase. A large printer can put a significant weight on your expense statement, you obviously want to be cautious as you make the selection. If you happen to be a professional printing house, you are already knowledgeable enough to make the right purchase. However if you happen to be working in an organization that needs a printer as part of its operations, this report should be of immense help to you. 

The two most popular types of printers are the laser printer and the well known inkjet printer. If you are talking about a three foot wide printing area or a printing media (paper, PVC etc) that is fed into the printer in the form of a roll - your requirement would imply an inkjet printer.  

When you talk about a large printer, you will need to allocate a fairly large budget, this for both a laser or inkjet printer. One of the main recurring costs of owning a printer is the ink medium, this could be in the form of a tank (inkjet) or as a cartridge (laser). The cost of cartridges for your laser printer will be far more expensive than, the replacement ink in an inkjet printer. Do not count on using cheaper replacement ink or cartridges in your big printer. Most if not all, printer manufacturers specifically state that replacements should be limited to their own brand. If you do try to use the cheaper alternative and shop for 'similar' or 'compatible' replacements, the manufacture reserves the right to nullify any product warranty provided for the printer.  

As you evaluate various features to decide on which big printer to purchase, include the discussion of laser cartridges or ink cost in the discussion. The cost of the printer itself would be a one time investment but, the ink or cartridge replacement will be recurring. When checking prices, get to know about the capacity of the cartridge or the amount of ink that you will be getting. If you are offered different qualities or grades to choose from, study the differences between various grades. 

Let's talk about the paper used for a big printer. The very basic requirement for printing a large format would be to have paper that is water proof. Moisture or a few drops of water can ruin an entire printout, so don't cut corners on this requirement. Papers are available in different thickness, in general thicker papers cost more than their thinner counterparts. Also note that the printer itself can put a limitation on the paper thickness that it can handle, stuffing a thicker paper can result in a nasty paper jam. Another feature related to the paper used in your big printer would be the type of surface. Printer papers are generally marked as glossy, semi-glossy or matt. While a glossy print out from a large printer might appear fancy, excess light reflection can result in impaired visibility. A matt paper has a dullness and this makes it better visible from all directions.  

Unlike ink and cartridges used in big printers that need to be of a specific brand as recommended by the printer manufacturer, the paper or other print media allows more flexibility. Make sure that you understand what are your specific requirements, next look around for the right source. Prices can vary widely even when quality is quite similar. Since this is another recurring requirement, you can try various options and settle for the one that works best for you.

Not all printing requirements can be fulfilled with paper, PVC and other polyester based medium can also be used for printing. Make sure that the large printer that you choose, can handle the print medium that you need. It is quite likely that the type of ink required differs from medium to medium. Do not attempt to print on a medium that is not supposed to be used on your printer, the machine may get damaged and the manufacturer might refuse to provide service under warranty. 

Most printouts fade with exposure to light, the degree and length of exposure that can affect a printout could differ. This is an important factor if you expect your printout to last for a long time. Before you choose a big printer, get to know the durability of the ink or cartridge. The type of paper or other material that you use, might also influence the length of time over which the printout fades. Discuss this with the printer manufacturer, a technical expert can recommend types of ink or cartridges or types of print medium, that are more tolerant to light exposure. 

The warranty that you would receive for a large printer should be carefully studied. Besides the length (time) of the warranty, check for exceptions and conditions that can void the manufacturer's warranty. For example, the use of ink or laser cartridges, other than those recommended by the printer manufacturer, can result in the cancellation of the warranty. It is fair to expect that you would receive on-site-service for a big printer, but take nothing for granted and seek express clarification. Get to know what happens after the warranty period, can you enter into an AMC (annual maintenance contract) with the printer manufacturer or dealer. Check the terms and conditions of the AMC, get to know what is included and what is excluded. Will you be provided with a spare printer if, your machine needs to be taken to the service center for repair. If it is not possible to move in a large printer as a spare into your office, will the dealer allow you to get emergency printing done at his office. These are things that you should evaluate at the preliminary stage before picking a dealer and printer. It is not uncommon for different dealers to provide differing service levels, for the same printer. 

Make provisions for contingencies even though, you might not be able to prepare for all possible scenarios. What happens if your big printer is down and you have some tight, time bound printing tasks to perform. Would it be possible to get the job done from a local printing service. You might have to make sure that your print medium and size is compatible with the printers available at the printing service. The dealer or manufacturer of the printer, might be able to tell you of their clients who provide print services. Learn about such service providers even before, you are faced with a contingency. 

Remember that the reputation of the printer manufacturer does matter. Check out the service centers provided by the manufacturer in your locality. You might want to think twice before buying a printer from a dealer based in another state, the idea of a service engineer flying down to your office to service technical issues might not be suitable. Dealers often provide special service contracts for an additional fee, get to know about these and consider them based on your requirements.