Most businesses would find it extremely hard to function without print functionality. From invoices and estimates to research and notes, the ability to make hard copies of information is extremely useful in a number of ways. There are a number of different options available, from single inkjet printers to multi-function devices – encompassing scan and copy facilities - and complex production machinery.
Identifying your print needs
Buying the right equipment starts with identifying your print needs. Will you be printing mainly black and white text or full colour graphics? How many users will need to use the print equipment at any one time? Will you need copy and scan facilities as well? Will your printed materials be distributed to clients? All these questions need to be answered before you can look at what printers will best suit your business. If, for example, you plan to distribute materials to clients, you’ll want a device that can print on high-quality paper.
Printers use a variety of different methods, such as ink cartridges and toners, to produce print on the pages. The method you use depends on how much use the printer will get, whether it’s predominantly in black and white, how many pages per minute you require and how much budget you have for consumables.
- Print cartridges – print cartridges contain a certain quantity of ink which is heated by a plate and vaporised before being applied to the page. Ink cartridges are typically inexpensive to replace but must be replaced often due to their low capacity. They are typically found in home and small business printers that won’t see significant use
- Laser toners – toner drums contain powders combined with polymers which are rapidly heated before being applied to the page. They are long-lasting and fast to print but are expensive to replace, particularly as some laser printers contain separate toners for each major colour (cyan, magenta, yellow and black)
- Solid Ink – solid ink printers melt down sticks of solid ink before apply it to the paper. Solid ink devices typically boast a faster warm up time than laser printers and also good print quality, although they require higher power consumption to keep the ink ‘usable’ and as well as a high initial warm up time during which the ink is melted
Some printers have built-in Ethernet ports that allow them to be connected directly to a network. This reduces the need for multiple devices as all computers connected to that network can send print jobs directly to the printer. Bear in mind that networked printers will require more durability, speed and capacity than those used by a smaller user base. For very busy environments a dedicated network printer, which often includes built-in memory to queue print jobs, will be more suitable.
Businesses often benefit from scanning and copying facilities, yet buying separate printers, scanners and copiers can quickly eat away at your budget. Consider buying a multi-function device which combines all three functions into one standalone unit. Most include a range of useful features include scan-to-email and scan-to-file, allowing you to email hard copies directly to colleagues or save them as documents on your computer. Connecting multi-function devices up to your network can put a huge range of possibilities in the hands of all users connected to the network, increasing the cost-efficiency of the installation.