Have you been looking to purchase a new large format inkjet printer but aren’t sure where to begin? Are you looking to upgrade from what you currently own? Want some tips on what to look for? This month, I’ll talk about 5 things to consider when purchasing a new printer…
1. Image Quality
Depending on your target market, your image quality requirements may differ. Here are a few points to consider:
2. Size & Speed
The size of the printer will depend on what image sizes you wish to offer. Do you currently own a 17″ wide printer and are not sure whether to invest in a 24″ or make the jump to 44″? If you can’t answer this question, let your customers help! Determine what sizes are most requested and this will be a great starting point. Ask your customers what sizes they would be most interested in if you had larger print capabilities. Look at what print size options are available on the web and you’ll get a good idea of what’s most common.
If you print canvas, determine how much additional canvas you’ll need for stretching when you have larger print capabilities. This can be factored into the total print width that the printer is capable of. Wider printers usually can handle longer and heavier rolls, which can translate into overall media savings (versus printing sheets or shorter roll lengths).
Speed is an important aspect that should not be overlooked if you need to achieve a particular amount of output each day or week. Keep in mind that faster print speeds typically mean a decrease in image resolution, so find printers that can achieve faster speeds while retaining resolution. Be aware that in some cases you may have to compromise quality for speed, or vice versa. As stated above, most printers have various settings for resolution, so test a few methods and see what the best results are in terms of speed and quality combined.
3. Media Handling
Make a list of everything you currently print on. Now add the media you would like to start using to that list. Newer printers have expanded capabilities for 3rd party media, so find a printer that can handle everything you wish to throw at it! While some printers might be better suited for photography, others may be geared more towards outdoor signage and short term graphics. Do you know what other printmakers in your target market are using?
Media thickness is also something to consider, so look at a printer’s specifications sheet to find out what paper thickness it can handle. If you can see the printer in action, make note of how it handles various media that is loaded. Does thick media load easily? What about sheet fed media and manual loading trays? You certainly don’t want to struggle to use your new printer, so look for these points when demoing a new printer.
4. Ease of Use
Sometimes we get so caught up in features and specifications that we forget the importance of usability. Having a printer that is easy to use means less frustration and troubleshooting. If there will be more than one user, production can be seamless if there is less guess work with the printer and its settings. Ask these questions when trying to determine the ease of use:
Usually the most overlooked aspect when buying a printer is product support. Struggling to get a product working properly can be quite a frustrating experience. Before buying a printer, find out what’s supported:
A few more things to consider
Are all of these points necessary or required? Are there pros and cons to each printer? While there can be many factors that determine what printer is right for you, I hope this guide will at least provide a starting point for determining what to look for.