In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on collaboration and the ability that emerging technology gives teams to interact and change the way they work together. This is especially true in the wide-format printing industry, where HP has developed a new generation of plotters that not only produce high-quality images at fast speeds, but also feature wireless connectivity and the ability to print directly from a thumb drive without being connected to a computer.
The result is increased effectiveness and efficiency for businesses. However, with the wide variety of printers on the market and a vast array of features to choose from, it’s not always easy to determine which wide-format printer is best for you. To get you started, below are 4 factors to consider:
PostScript vs. Non-PostScript
If asked up front, a majority of AEC professionals will indicate they would prefer to purchase a PostScript vs. non-PostScript plotter, even though many really don’t know the difference between the two. However, the exceptional quality afforded by a PostScript printer also comes with a larger price tag, causing some people to reconsider.
While a PostScript printer is definitely the best choice for professionals who utilize graphics software, the capabilities it provides are not utilized by everyone. This being said, the consumer needs to consider whether to spend money on a feature that may not be needed. The question you want to ask yourself is “what will this plotter be used for 90% of the time?”
How do you communicate with co-workers and other professionals outside of your workplace?
Do you work for a large organization with multiple offices that regularly share plans and other documents? If so, then you probably deploy much of your project information via tablets and other mobile devices that can be used in the field. You should also consider adding a scanner to your workflow in order to improve efficiency, security, and flexibility in your offices.
How do you print documents, especially plans, once you’ve made changes and want to disseminate them to sub-contractors and others? Are you are still printing documents from one location and shipping to select individuals? Given the fact that 85% of all printers sold today are MFP’s, you may want to learn about MFP’s with the technology that allows users to share documents more efficiently.
What type of medias do you print on?
Not all paper is created equal, so it’s important that you not only use high-quality print media that will produce optimal output, but that you also select the appropriate wide-format printer for that media. For instance, some plotters are better than others for printing on substrates, such as vinyl or canvas. This being said, be diligent in your research. Take time to assess the needs of your office and learn what printers are recommended for the type of work you do. Also, study the media options available to you and make sure you know exactly what you are getting.
Too often people let price dictate their purchase decision and they are disappointed when they don’t get the output they were expecting. Bond, for example, is produced in a variety of weights and brightness levels and your output will be determined by the product you choose and the device it is printed on. If resolution and precision lines will determine the product you purchase, test a file on several printers and medias and compare the results. You might be surprised to find that the printer you thought you wanted is not the best solution for your needs.
Who will support your wide-format printer?
Once you decide on a printer, it’s time to consider who will provide your service and support. This is an area where you really want to do your homework because when your printer is down, it’s crucial to have a qualified technician who can provide an accurate diagnosis and promptly return your machine to optimal working condition.
Look for a company who is an authorized sales and service provider for the brand of printer you are purchasing. Ask how many technicians they have, the years of experience they possess and if they have wide-format printer experience. Inquire about special certifications and designations the service department holds. Many manufacturers have tiers of service that distinguish one level of service provider from another. A top-tier service provider is typically held to shorter response times, higher first-time fix rates and nearly perfect customer satisfaction ratings; all metrics which help to ensure you will receive exceptional service.
While there are many factors to think about when you purchase a new wide-format printer, the four we have discussed in this post should be given prime consideration before you begin narrowing down your choices. Still have questions?