Do I Need A Wide Format Printer?

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

It's a question that plagues many small art business owners – do I need a wide format printer? The answer, as with most things, is it depends. Here we'll take a look at what wide format printers (also known as large format printers) are good for and when you might need one. We'll also give you some tips on choosing the right wide format printer for your business. So, read on to find out if a large format printer is right for you!

What is a wide format printer and what are its uses?

If you're in the market for a new printer, you may have come across the term “wide format printing.” But what does this mean, and what are its uses? A wide or large format printer is a type of printer capable of printing on larger paper sizes than your standard piece of letter sized paper. This allows for the creation of posters, banners, art prints, and other large documents.

While traditional printers are limited to 8.5 by 11 inch or smaller paper sizes, large format printers can open up a whole host of new possibilities for your business or personal projects. Additionally, some large format printers also offer specialized features like lamination for creating durable prints that can withstand outdoor conditions.

Most sticker businesses will not need a large format printer. But if you're interested in producing prints as well, then you might consider a large format printer as a complement to your existing sticker printing set up. A large format printer would allow you to make more common photo printing sizes: 11×14, 11×17, 13×19, etc.

How do I know if I need a wide format printer for my business

The art business is tricky because we want to invest the least amount in equipment as we can, so we can focus our time on producing art. But artists who want to DIY their own prints, or professional photographers who want to do photo printing – they may want a home-based large format printer for their outputs.

However, before purchasing a wide format printer, it's important to carefully assess your printing needs. There are a few things to consider, but perhaps the most important questions to answer are:

  • Can I make more than the cost of this printer if I purchase it?
  • Will my print quality be as good as professional printers?
  • How much are ink costs for this large format printer?
  • What sort of maintenance needs to be done on the print head of large format printers?
  • What are my running costs?

If most of your documents are standard letter or legal size, then such a printer may not be necessary for your business. Instead, you could outsource the occasional oversized print to Staples or The UPS Store.

Ultimately, it's all about identifying the specific types of materials you'll be printing and ensuring that the investment in a wide format printer will provide value for your company. But if large-scale printing is essential to your operations, don't hesitate to invest in the right equipment for the job. The best large format printer is the one that works for your business.

What are some of the benefits of owning large format printers?

If you're in a profession that requires large-scale printing, using a standard printer can be quite limiting. Sure, it can handle smaller documents like letters and reports, but what about when you need to print posters or presentation boards? That's where a large format printer comes in. Not only can it handle larger documents, but it also offers the flexibility to print on a variety of materials such as embossed paper, canvas or vinyl.

The print quality of large format printers meant for the home is honestly great nowadays. I can't tell the print quality difference between getting photo printing done at Walgreens and doing it myself on my ET-8550. It's the most affordable and best large format printer out there for home-based artists. The print speed is acceptable, the ink cost is negligible, and it can print on matte art paper alongside glossy paper meant for photos or greeting cards.

Plus, having your own wide format printer means you have more control over the printing process – no more waiting in line at the copy store or dealing with delays in shipping. In short, owning a wide format printer can save time and hassle, making it a valuable investment for any business or individual in need of large-scale printing capabilities.

Where can I find the best deals on large format printers ?

When searching for a large format printer, it can be tempting to go with the first option you see or the cheapest price. However, taking some time to do your research and compare prices can often result in finding the best deals.

For example, the list price of the ET-8550 is $800. But, it regularly sells for less than $700. As a tank printer, it avoids the use of ink cartridges altogether, instead allowing you to use refillable ink tanks for your borderless photos. It has excellent output quality.

How do I care for and maintain my large format printer?

Caring for large format printers is similar to other printers. Make sure to keep the printer in a clean, dust-free environment and follow manufacturer guidelines for routine maintenance checks. Consistent care and upkeep of your large format printer will not only improve the quality of printed documents, but also prolong the life of your equipment.

For the ET-8550, there's not a lot of maintenance. There are no ink cartridges. It auto-cleans the print head. Basically, as long as you keep the ink tanks full, the ET-8550 functions as an all-in-one printer with minimal maintenance and running costs. It has wi-fi and a built in scanner, both pretty standard on home printers nowadays. It can print borderless photos in specific sizes, but usually, leaves a small, even border around the edges.

A special note: many people use large format printers like the ET-8550 for sublimation. I don't write a lot about sublimation, but I do need to say this. When you put generic, sublimation style ink into your Epson EcoTank printer or any of the other wide format printers, you are voiding the warranty if something goes wrong. So be sure that sublimation is what you want to use that printer for.

Final thoughts

A large format printer can be an important addition to any business. By understanding the different types of wide format printers and what they are used for, you can determine if a wide format printer is right for your needs. There are many benefits to owning a large format printer, including cost savings, time efficiency, and better quality prints. You can find great deals on wide format printers by shopping around online or at local office supply stores. To keep your printer in good working order, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance. Thanks for reading!

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