Very often, customers have to make a decision as to whether they purchase an inkjet plotter or a toner/laser printer for their large format printing needs.
There are several questions to consider:
- What is your budget? – Very good quality inkjet plotters can be purchased for as little as $4,000.00, which includes assembly, testing, delivery, installation, and training. In addition, most of the inkjet plotters come with a full one-year warranty.
- Do you need to print color? – Color is becoming very relevant in today’s printing world. However, color can be done on both inkjet & toner/laser printers these days. Keep in mind that color on a toner/laser machine is a relatively expensive option versus color on an inkjet plotter.
- Scanning capabilities? – Do you need the ability to scan hard-copy drawings to a digital file for archiving/emailing and/or the ability to make copies of existing hard copy drawings? Inkjet plotters can have a scanner added to them for a full digital system that includes walk-up copying and scanning to a digital file. That cost is approximately $4,000.00. Toner/laser printers come complete, in most cases, with a scanner for doing walk-up copying and scanning to digital files.
- Performance and speed: – Inkjet plotters will print one ‘D’ size print every 40 seconds or so. Toner/laser printers will print anywhere from 3 – 22 ‘D’ size copies per minute.
- Service costs: – Inkjet plotters come with a one-year warranty. Additional service is approximately $50.00/month after the first year. Toner/laser equipment comes with a 90-day warranty and will cost approximately $100.00/month, depending on your usage.
- Consumable costs: – KIP toner-based printers are 100% toner efficient and cost approximately $0.009/square foot for toner. Paper is approximately $0.018/square foot. Inkjet plotters are approximately $0.05/square foot for ink. Paper is approximately $0.018/square foot.
- Floor space: – In today’s market, the equipment, whether it’s inkjet or toner/laser, occupies approximately the same amount of floor space regardless of which option you go with.
- Stacking: – The latest inkjet now has a “stacker shelf” that will stack up to 20 drawings, whereas the majority of inkjets only have a “basket” to catch the prints. With the toner/laser equipment, you have a variety of stackers to choose from that will stack anywhere from hundreds to thousands of prints. Much of the toner/laser printers today have efficient, space-saving integrated stackers that will stack up to 50 drawings.
- $4,000.00 all-in for a fully installed brand new 36” plotter
- Great quality on color photos, rendering, banners, etc.
- Color and/or black & white output for same low price
- Reduced maintenance costs at approximately $50.00/month
- 12-month warranty
- Ink is about 7 times more expensive than toner
- Slower at 1 – 2 ‘D’ size/minute
- Not waterproof
- Fades in light
- Very fast at 3 – 22 ‘D’ size/minute
- Very efficient stacking options
- Waterproof & lightfast
- Very inexpensive toner at $0.009/square foot
- Much quicker/more efficient scanning
- Larger initial investment at $10,000.00 – $30,000.00
- Maintenance costs are greater at approximately $100.00/month
- Shorter warranty period (90 days)