How to Determine If Adding a Wide Format Printer to Your Fleet Is Right for Your Business

Printers play an indispensable role in the modern office. Not only do today’s multifunction printers offer fast, reliable printing, but users can also take advantage of their built-in faxing, scanning, and copying capabilities. Take a close look inside any office. You’ll see a multifunction printer taking up residence, ready to tackle the day’s workflow and help businesses reach their customer base.

On the other hand, the wide format printer is a relatively rare sight in modern offices. That’s changing, however, as more and more businesses recognize the advantages of having such a device in their print fleet. If you need a machine to handle the jobs that ordinary printers can’t, there may be a business case for adding a wide format printer to your current fleet.

What Is a Wide Format Printer?

Think “printer,” and the average multifunction printer most likely comes to mind. These devices come in a wide variety of sizes, from sizable floor models to compact models designed with desktop use in mind. Nevertheless, all of these machines handle standard document sizes, with 11 x 17-inch sheets being the largest they can take in most cases.

Now, let’s look at a wide format printer. Unlike a standard multifunction printer, a wide format printer is geared towards producing large, printed materials. Most wide format printers can handle documents anywhere from 12 inches in width to over 100 inches in length. These documents typically include posters, banners, window displays, blueprints, diagrams, and maps.

But there’s more to the wide format printer than meets the eye. This brief rundown illustrates the differences between these highly versatile printers and ordinary multifunction printers found in the typical office:

  • Feed – Wide format printers don’t utilize sheets of paper for their printing process. Instead, you’ll notice a large roll of paper at the rear of the machine. The wide format printer feeds from this roll, allowing the printer to print materials significantly longer than a typical multifunction printer can accommodate. Most systems feature a built-in cutting device to help trim the paper as it finishes the printing process.
  • Technology – Like ordinary printers, wide format printers run on inkjet technology. However, that’s where the similarities end. Most models use aqueous ink for its low cost and fast printing speed, but other models use solvent-based inks due to their durability under outdoor conditions. Others use ultraviolet light to dry the ink in seconds, making it nearly impervious to ordinary wear and tear. There are also laser-based wide format printers that use toner, just like multifunction printers.
  • Speed – Wide format printers were designed with high volume production in mind. As a result, these devices offer printing speeds that outstrip most multifunction printers.
  • Cost – A wide format printer can cost significantly more than a typical multifunction printer, usually due to its size and features.
  • Variety – Paper isn’t the only material wide format printers can print on. These printers are designed to deal with many products, including plastics, vinyl, fabrics, wood and even wallpaper.

Common Ways Businesses Use Wide Format Printers

The average wide format printer is about as versatile as your business needs call for. Whether you need T-shirts for an upcoming event or blueprints to build a new home, a wide format printer can get the job done.

Other ways that businesses make use of their wide format printers include:

  • Outdoor Advertising – A wide format printer can easily handle most outdoor advertising needs, including large banners for all-weather display.
  • Trade Shows – Using a wide format printer for your trade show materials can help promote your business and welcome interested clients into the fold. These materials can include banners, tablecloths, and custom cutouts.
  • Retail Advertising – Wide format printers are perfect for creating a wide range of retail graphics, including point-of-purchase displays, ceiling-mounted displays, static window clings, and wall decals.
  • Blueprints and GIS Maps – Architecture and construction firms rely on wide format printers for printing high-quality blueprints, diagrams, and GIS field maps.
  • Community Events – Use your wide format printer to announce community events and local festivals.
  • Education – Wide format printers can easily churn out large banners for classrooms and extracurricular activities.

Other surprising uses for wide format printers include scenery backdrops for motion picture movies and canvas photos for photography firms.

Is An In-House Wide Format Printer Right for Your Minneapolis Area Business?

Some Minneapolis businesses are intimidated by the thought of buying a wide format printer, primarily because it is a significant capital expense. However, if you regularly design wide format products in-house and outsource them elsewhere for printing, you may benefit from having your own machine.

But before you agree to lease or purchase your wide format printer, you should ask yourself if your business can truly benefit from having this device as part of your business printer fleet:

  • What is my print workflow like daily? Owning or leasing a wide format printer makes sense if you regularly print banners, decals and other large, printed materials.
  • How much space do I have for this device? Unlike multifunction printers, wide format printers are sizable machines that are significantly wider and heavier. Consider how much space your office has for a dedicated unit, how having that unit in the office affects workflow and if the floor below will require any type of reinforcement.
  • How does this purchase or lease affect my bottom line? Purchasing a wide format printer is a major capital expense, but potential tax incentives can help bring that number down. Continuing improvements in printer design and efficiency can help reduce operating costs.
  • When and how should I train my employees when the time comes? A managed print services provider can train your staff on how to use the wide format printer.

With the above in mind, deciding whether to add a wide format printer to your current print fleet becomes easier. If you want to know more about wide format printing for your Bloomington business, contact DTS today and speak to one of our experts.