7 Ways Keeping Old Plotters Costs More Than Buying A New One

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Keeping Old Plotters Can Be Costly

What ever happened to “quality stuff” that was built to last? My grandma still has a 1960’s Electrolux canister vacuum she can’t bring herself to part with… Some people are the same way with keeping old plotters, and it costs more than upgrading.

Here’s why…

Today, everything is cheaply built. It lasts a few years (or a few months) and it needs to be replaced. You can fix it if you want, but it’s cheaper to replace the whole thing. The old “keep and repair” mentality can be difficult to overcome, especially if you were raised by “keepers” (I believe the “new” word is “hoarders”).

There are many reasons old plotters should be replaced. Faster print speeds and better energy efficiency are the most obvious reasons. This article digs a little deeper; highlighting what to look for, how to compare, and where time can be saved! We are even going to use fancy words like picolitre…. The first thing to consider is, will the old printer work with a new computer.

New Technology vs. Old Technology

A new computer trying to communicate with an old printer is like a junior high student explaining common core math to a baby boomer. The “legacy” printer can’t understand what new computers are saying (legacy is the word used by industry professionals when referencing old equipment or software).

Simply put, 2017 technology is far more capable than it was in 2007, and “they” can’t go back in time to make your old plotter better.

Supplies – The Ongoing Costs

If you’ve ever discussed printer supplies, chances are “that’s where they getcha” was included in the conversation. Too many people buy ink based on the price tag. Honestly, that’s where they getcha.

If membership discount stores have taught us anything, it’s that buying in bulk saves money. Calculating the cost is simple. Divide the price of the ink tank by the number of milliliters (or page “yield”) to get an accurate price per ml (or page).

As an example, an HP 10 ink tank has 69ml and costs $54.99 ($0.80 per ml). Canon sells 130ml tanks for $70 ($0.54 per mil). In this example, the smaller ink tank costs you nearly $40 more.

*69ml x 2 = 138. $54.99 x 2 = $109.98. OR 130ml = $70. 109.98 – 70 = $39.98

Print heads are “consumables” that run up the cost per print. Legacy models have multiple print heads (and shorter life spans). A new model with a single, long-life print head is more cost-effective.

Lastly, many printers can only handle 150’ rolls of paper (even new models). A printer that can hold a 500’ roll of paper can reduce paper costs.

If you haven’t been tracking your print costs, download our free tracker tool.

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Cost per page – Hidden costs

In the last section, we discussed how to calculate cost per ml (and cost per page). There is one other thing to consider when looking at print costs… it’s that fancy picolitre word I mentioned in the intro.

Picolitre is the size measurement for a droplet of ink. Smaller droplets mean less ink is used. New printers drop less ink and have a higher resolution… translation = you get a better print for less money.

Print Speed

Old printers are slower than new ones. To get a better understanding of print speed, look at the printer’s spec sheet.

Legacy models advertised print speeds of 90 seconds when they were new. Canon advertises a 21-second print speed for D-Size (24”x 36”) prints. In case you aren’t keeping track, that is a 4-to-1 difference.

Based on the numbers, a 20 page set on a new printer takes just over 7 minutes while that same set on a legacy model takes over 30 minutes.

Time – Put It On Your Side

Having just seen an old printer take roughly 23 minutes longer than a new printer to produce the same job, let’s look at another time waster related to old printers… stacking.

If you’ve ever printed a 20-page set on a 20-year-old printer, there is no doubt you have scooped up the heap of paper on the floor and spent time putting it in the proper order. That’s frustrating, and it’s a waste of time.

You have a job to bid, it’s not arts and crafts time. Some models, like the Canon iPF785, have integrated stackers that are convenient and efficient.

See flat stacking in action

Speed and organization will eliminate setting up print jobs overnight or during lunch. The days of wasting time on your printer are over!

Be More Organized

There are still other time-wasters associated with your old printer. Here are a few:

  • Shopping for supplies
  • Changing ink tanks/paper
  • Finding a repair person
  • Locating discontinued parts online
  • Cutting/Sorting/Stacking

New printers not only hold larger capacity supplies, but they are smart enough to order their own supplies when they are running low. Finally, your employees won’t have to waste time babysitting the printer, and can instead focus on winning bids!

Average Print Volume

Under-powered plotters can’t keep up with a heavy workload, and outsourcing is a more attractive option for larger jobs.

Printshop prices are much higher than printing in-house (think $0.50 – $3.50 higher per page). Not to mention the wait time, drive time for employees, mistakes, and much more. Also consider the fees (delivery, staple, etc).

Keeping old plotters forces you to pay twice…

You maintain a printer in your office and it costs you (too much) money. It can’t keep up with your production, so you send bigger jobs to the (expensive) print shop. Trading in that old printer for a new, faster plotter eliminates outsourcing and reduces in-house print costs.

There are no special skills needed to print. You didn’t hire someone special to print regular office documents, and you don’t have to hire someone to print plans. You just need the right printer.

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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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