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If you're constantly hiring an outside company for your oversized print jobs then it might be time to invest in a good wide format printer. There's a significant upfront expense, but the long-term savings can be substantial.
Wideformat printers are used to print anything larger than two feet wide including signs, banners, posters, blueprints, and floor plans.
They're commonly used in the following fields:
- Print shops
- Design shops
About Wide-Format Printers
Wide format printers, also known as large format printers, come in two basic varieties:
- Toner-based printers use heat to fuse dry toner onto the paper or printing material. They are more expensive upfront. But, the cost of replenishing printing supplies is lower. Toner-based printers are designed for faster, high-volume jobs and are most often used in architecture, engineering, and construction fields.
- Ink jet printers use a liquid ink to color the printing surface. They offer a higher resolution than toner-based printers and are capable of printing on many types of materials and surfaces. This makes largely popular with print and graphic design shops.
Size is one of the most important considerations when selecting a wide format printer. The most common size for wide format printers is 36". But, they can be slightly smaller or much larger. Printers wider than 60" are known as grand format printers.
In addition to size, you can opt for a wide format printer that prints in color or black and white. You can buy one with or without a scanner, depending on your needs. Some wide format printers have scanners built in; other times they are offered as an accessory that is sold separately.
Wide Format Printer Average Costs
The cost of a wide format printer varies widely depending on the type, size and features you select. Low-end, 24" ink jet printers start at around $1,500.
A 36-inch wide format printer without a scanner costs anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000. Most inkjet printers in that size are $4,000 to $5,000, while toner-based printers run $8,000 to $10,000.
Plan on spending about double if you opt for a printer with a scanner. Most 36-inch wide format printers with scanners cost $12,000 to $16,000.
Production-class wide format printers are drastically more expensive, starting at about $50,000 and running upwards of $200,000. However, these machines are only necessary for companies with extremely high volume printing needs, such as specialty print shops.
Used Wide Format Printers
You can save money by purchasing a used wide format printer. On the other hand, be careful that you're not buying outdated technology. Wide format printers undergo big technological changes every few years, so a printer that is just five years old may be nearly obsolete.
If you do opt for a used wide format printer, look for one that has been refurbished to the manufacturer's original standards. Be sure to ask if the original warranty or service plan is still in place!