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Printing and press have revolutionized advertising. With the development of more and more sophisticated printers, that evolution continues. Commercial organizations such as marketing and advertising agencies use banner printers, also known as wide format printers, to create advertising banners and other large items.
These printers are available in a wide variety of sizes, types, and capabilities. You find them most often in commercial print shops, but you also find wide format printers in industries that rely on graphic design for their day-to-day operation. The following is an overview of banner printers and what you can expect to pay for one.
Pros of Banner Printers
Banner printers are actually called wide or large format printers, due to the fact that they print on media up to 60" wide (super wide and grand format printers work on media over 100" wide). As the name implies, they're great for printing banners and similarly large items, including advertisements, posters, blueprints, and a wide variety of promotional items. The average wide format printer ranges between 18" and 24" on the low end, while maximum widths vary, though 36" and 48" models are the most common.
You find banner printers most often in commercial print shops, as the average professional environment has minimal use for a wide format printer. However, construction companies, architecture firms, engineering offices, and organizations with their own graphics department typically find it more cost effective to house their own large printer rather than outsource the service.
As the technology becomes more affordable, you see more small outfits investing in these units, particularly start-up graphic design companies. These printers work on many different types of media, not just paper. This includes cloth, wood, metal, glass, vinyl, and cardboard. Wide format printers are designed to print a variety of image types at high resolution for crisp, clear prints with vivid color.
Points to Consider when Buying Banner Printers
- Size: Wide and large format printers range from a minimum of 18" (technically the lowest it can be and still be considered "wide") to a maximum of 60". Printers larger than that are classified as super wide and grand. Printer size dictates cost, so consider your size needs carefully.
- Simplex or duplex: Duplex printers offer two-sided printing capabilities, but come at a steeper price. Determine your need for this option before paying extra.
- Speed: Print quality relies heavily on speed, but so does your profitability. If you have high print needs, a high-speed unit is worth the extra cost. Speeds are measured in pages per minute (or sometimes hour), abbreviated as ppm (or pph).
- Features: Talk to the people who actually use the printer to determine which features are worth the extra cost and which are never or rarely used.
Sample Prices for Banner Printers
Part of the reason you mostly see banner printers in commercial environments is their cost, which is prohibitive. Not only do you have the cost of the printer, but all of its accessories, including ink, printing medium, and maintenance. Prices vary widely, based on manufacturer, vendor, size, special features, and print speed. Without knowing your exact requirements, estimating your cost is impossible. However, the following estimates provide insight into budget requirements.
- A 24" printer starts at around $2,000, which prices increasing as you add special features, such as two-sided printing.
- A 42" printer ranges from $3,000 to $3,500.
- Higher end jumbo printers range between $10,000 and $15,000.
- The EasyJet15 has a maximum resolution of 2400x600 dpi (dots per inch) with a printing speed of 8 ppm and average cost between $2,500 and $2,800.
- Thermal banner printers that print up to 8 square meters per hour average between $3,800 and $4,000.
- A ribbon printer with a max resolution of 300 dpi ranges between $500 and $800.
- Black Deluxe jet Eco-solvent printer averages around $6,000.