How To Choose The Right Printer Model Based On Monthly Volume

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What Is The Right Model Printer

Have you stumbled upon this article seeking answers? Are you looking for a printer that will perform well in your office without breaking the bank? Are you wondering what the major differences between printers are?

They all do what a printer does… print, so what exactly are the determining factors for monthly print volume and identifying the best model for your office?   You’re not alone if you are wondering the same things.

I’m not going to waste your time by discussing features and benefits.  We are diving straight into how to choose the right printer model based on monthly volume.

Why choose a printer based on monthly volume

The most important reason to focus on monthly print volume when considering a large format printer is that an under-powered printer will slow you down and cost excess money.  At ProPrinting Systems, we classify blueprint printers into 3 categories.

Each of those categories is defined by things like print speed, media and supply handling, capability, durability, size, and efficiency features.

Now, I know I said I wouldn’t discuss features and benefits – and I still mean that – but I do have to draw attention to the elements that are relevant (because that’s how we determine which category the printers fall into).

This is not simply an “if you print x-amount, you need this printer” (though I’ll try to stick as close to that as possible).

Small or Home Office

The most easily defined category is the small and home office printer category.  Very simply put, these printers were designed to put plans in your hands at any moment of the day or night.  They do have some limitations, but if you only print a few sheets per day, a small or home office large format printer can be invaluable to you!

But wait, I mentioned limitations… what exactly is a limitation of a printer? I need a print, just hit print, and it prints… Done deal, right?  Not exactly.

The “sweet-spot” for this category of printers is between 25 – 50 D-Size (24” x 36”) sheets per week. That’s roughly 1,200 square feet per month They can handle a larger print volume, but those other factors I mentioned will start to work against you when the print volume exceeds that 50-sheet mark.

The first limitation is print speed, which may not be a huge factor at low volumes, but when longer print runs are necessary, the time required to print the set is significantly higher on the home-based models.  Cost per print is also higher on smaller printers because they use smaller (more expensive) supplies like ink tanks (higher cost per ml) and paper rolls (more costly per ft2).

Home and small office large format printers are usually available in 24 or 36-inch widths and may be placed on a desktop.  Going the desktop route may save a few bucks compared to the models that mount on a stand but look at the cutting and stacking features.  Sorting and stacking just a few pages that fell to the floor after printing is not as time-consuming as doing the same with a full set of plans.

Some printer models in this category are powerful enough to cross over into the next category up.  I recommend choosing one of those models if you are on the fence.  It gives you a smaller, more attractive price tag while giving you the flexibility to grow into a higher print volume.

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Mid-Size to Large Workgroup

The most common classification is the workgroup printer.  They offer the same easy access to print – any time day or night, but they can handle a much higher print volume per month, and there are other distinct benefits.

Leading off with square footage, these models are recommended in settings where 1,500 - 8,000 square feet are needed per month.  Again, this is just a recommendation, it’s not an exact science.  But I have personally seen the workgroup large-format printer perform quite well in environments with this type of print volume.

What makes this model perform so well at that level of usage? I’m glad you asked! Print speed is fast enough to crank out a great number of pages quickly (as low as 21 seconds per D-Size page depending on model) and large capacity supplies (ink and paper) drive cost per page down to just a few pennies per square foot.  These printers also have cutting and stacking features to prevent wasting time.

High-Volume Enterprise Level

This category best serves environments that need long print runs and maximum efficiency.  Printing north of 8,500 square feet per month requires a printer that can handle large capacity ink tanks (up to 700ml), multiple rolls of paper (up to 650’ per roll), and a stacker that can accommodate a large number of sheets of mixed sizes.

Dangers of Getting The Wrong Model

When looking at the 30,000-foot view, any printer can produce a print for you quite easily.  The difference-maker for which is the right model comes in the overall cost associated with every sheet delivered by the printer, the pace at which you need it to operate, and the amount of time you have to dedicate to interacting with the printer.

Even if a print costs only 2 cents more per square foot than the same print from a different model, the cost difference is 160 dollars over 8,000 ft2.

Changing rolls of paper may only take 30 seconds, but a 650’ roll (325 x D-Size sheets) needs to be replaced less often than a 150’ roll (75 x D-size sheets).

Honorable Mention

Each of the categories has printers available in multiple sizes, but the 2 most common sizes are 24 and 36-inch printer surfaces.  They can all hold multiple size rolls up to their max-width.  Also available in all three categories are multifunction print/scan/copy models.

Need Help Determining Your Monthly Print Volume or Choosing A Printer

I’m glad you’re still reading!  Every customer is different, and every printer is different.

Our FREE plotter buyer’s guide helps identify things to look for (or look out for) when considering a printer purchase.

A large format printer should work for you and make your operation more efficient.  Choosing the wrong model printer will slow you down, cost you more money, and ultimately send you back to the expensive print shop… which is most likely what sent you looking for an in-house printer in the first place.  Getting the right printer will break the circle, and save you time and money!

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About Ron Rodgers

Ron Rodgers is an Imaging Ace & Print Industry Hotshot with a passion for helping people turn print into profit! Aside from being the founder of ProPrinting Systems, he is a marketing machine, funtrepreneur (like entrepreneur but more fun), blogger, YouTuber, podcaster, musician, husband, father, sales expert, and all-around nice guy.

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