Do I Need A Wide Format Printer?
A wide format printer is a printer which prints on pages wider than 17 inches but less than 100 inches. Printers over the 100 inch mark are referred to as “super-wide” or “grand” format. Wide format printers usually use a roll of paper instead of individually cut sheets of paper.
If you often print blueprints, banners, or other documents over 24 inches wide, purchasing a wide format printer is an excellent investment. These machines print in either black and white or color, on a wide range of output materials.
There are two primary markets for wide format printers.
The first is the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, which has long used wide format printers (often referred to as “plotters”) for blueprints and other technical documents.
The other market is for graphics printing. Print and design shops use wide format printers to create large-scale signs, banners, textiles, custom fabric orders, and durable outdoor graphics, for advertising agencies, retail stores, educational institutions, and the government.
If your print volume is high enough, your organization will benefit from acquiring a wide format printer of your own.
All of the major printer manufacturers have ranges of wide format printers. HP, for example, produces the Designjet range of 21 different models, each with different specifications and prices. The Designjet 111 is only 3’ 3” wide and produces prints up to D size for about $1 per page, whereas the top-of-the-range Designjet Z5400 can hold two rolls of paper and uses six different colored inks each in separate cartridges.
Other wide format printer manufacturers include Canon, Kip, Océ, Xerox, Epson and Roland.
If you want to choose a wide format printer for your business, how do you proceed? You need to produce a specification of the features you are after and then compare that list to the printers on the market. Here are some ideas:
- How large do you want to be able to print? Up to 100 inches wide?
- Do you want a low cost per print?
- How about separate ink cartridges for each colour? There are pros and cons of this.
- What DPI (dots per inch) do you want to go up to? Greater DPI produces clearer prints.
- Do you want to be able to print from PDF and Postscript files?
- What sort of connectivity does the printer need, network or direct to a PC?
- How noisy can the printer get for your office? (Sound is measured in decibels.)
- Will you want training to be provided for the printer by your supplier?
And how do you choose a printer supplier? You need to find a company like Hackworth in Chesapeake, Virginia, that specializes in wide format printing and knows the technology inside out. It has been in business since 1991. It prints banners and other art-work for its customers, and sells printers and consumables on-line and in store. So you can see the products before you buy them, and see how easy or hard it is to use one of these print devices.
If you have more questions about wide format printers or scanners contact one of our wide format equipment specialists at 800-676-2424.