What to Consider When Buying a Wide-format Device
The first two things to consider are – what will you be printing (blueprints? photographs? vehicle wraps?), and what material you will be printing on (glossy paper? specialized paper? vinyl?)
Once you determine both of those, you should be able to narrow your search sufficiently enough in order to consider some of the more basic parameters that set wide-format printers apart.
How important is the time between starting a print job and holding the finished product in your hands? The technical specifications of a printer should tell you the production capacity and throughput speed. Is there a chance that you could be faced with a rush job from time to time? Having equipment that can tackle quick orders with ease can be well worth the investment.
Different types of printing require different types of ink. Solvent ink (for printing on vinyl), aqueous ink (for printing on photo or poster paper), and latex ink or UV curable ink (for printing on vinyl and other kinds of substrates) each require specific printer technology.
Usability covers a lot of ground, but ultimately comes down to what is most practical for your own situation. Today’s wide-format printers are digital, so you’ll use touchscreen interfaces far more frequently than traditional hard buttons. Make sure that the interface and operation of the machine is easy to learn.
Where will you put the device? Will there be enough room to remove the prints from the machine without damaging the print? Is replacing heavy material rolls, or ink and toner cartridges, a one-person job, or will multiple people be needed to attend to the device?
Hopefully, new technology will help your business grow. A wide-format printer is a big investment and you don’t want to outgrow it before it’s even paid off. Have a clear idea of your company’s priorities and where there may be growth potential in the future. Will the device you purchase today still be a useful tool 5 years from now?
The environmental impact of your printing processes will depend on a number of different things. Most printers today have been designed with some kind of energy efficiency built into them. Look for the Energy Star sticker. Does the device go into sleep-mode when not in use? Are your required to stop the machine every night and restart it each morning?
The ink technology you will use has an effect on your environmental impact. For example, aqueous inks are water-based so they have less of a negative environmental impact than solvent inks. Will you use enough ink so that you can buy ink in bulk containers, or will you rely on multiple, material-heavy, smaller cartridges?
Before you decide on your next wide-format device, take a few moments to review these considerations.