Inkjet versus Toner

15 Jan

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:

  1. 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 Canon iPF750addition, most of the inkjet plotters come with a full one-year warranty.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.


Inkjet pros:

  • $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

Inkjet cons:

  • Ink is about 7 times more expensive than toner
  • Slower at 1 – 2 ‘D’ size/minute
  • Not waterproof
  • Fades in light
  • Stacking

Toner/laser pros:

  • Very fast at 3 – 22 ‘D’ size/minute
  • KIP 7100Very efficient stacking options
  • Waterproof & lightfast
  • Very inexpensive toner at $0.009/square foot
  • Much quicker/more efficient scanning

Toner/laser cons:

  • Larger initial investment at $10,000.00 – $30,000.00
  • Maintenance costs are greater at approximately $100.00/month
  • Shorter warranty period (90 days)

2 Responses to “Inkjet versus Toner”

  1. laser tek January 31, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    This is really a good comparison.

    • BPI Inc January 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

      Thanks. When you have been in the business since the inception of wide format, you need to know your stuff 🙂

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