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The Color of Printing

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the large number of printer models that are available. In this article, we look at the two main types of printers (inkjet and laser) and what to consider when making your purchasing decision. We also look at outsource printing options.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet (or bubble-jet) printers squirt tiny dots of quick-drying ink onto your paper, one line at a time. All 300-600 jets can fire simultaneously and each dot is tinier than the width of a human hair. Inkjet printers are usually less expensive than laser printers, due to less expensive, fewer mechanical parts. If you are printing graphics, it will use considerably more ink per page than printing text, and ink is more expensive than toner in a laser printer. Also, printed characters generally do not appear as crisp and sharp as those produced from a laser printer, so consider what level of quality you require for your finished documents.

Laser Printers

Laser printers take advantage of a drum coated with a static electricity charge. A laser “writes” to the drum by changing the static charge where it touches leaving an electrically charged impression of your document on the drum. As the drum turns, toner sticks to the electrically charged parts of the drum. Then, your paper is fed into the printer and charged with a different electrical charge than the drum, so that when it passes by the drum the toner jumps to the paper, transferring your image. It’s like writing with glue then sprinkling sand on top. Finally, the paper passes through heated rollers which fuse the powder to your page, leaving you with a dry, warm and smudge-free document. And whilst laser printers may have a more expensive initial purchase price, their long-term ‘cost per page’ is less.

Ink Tanks / Toner Cartridges

Laser printers usually have black, yellow, cyan and magenta toner powder cartridges. Inkjet printers can vary between 2 ink tanks (1 x black and 1 x combined yellow, cyan & magenta) and 8 separate tanks (matte black, photo black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light grey, light cyan & light magenta). With a combined ink tank, if you run out of yellow, you need to replace the whole tank regardless of how much magenta or cyan you have left. With separate tanks, you would just replace the yellow one.

Speed

As paper passes a laser’s drum at speed, the average laser printer can deliver around 26 printed pages per minute. Inkjets must work one line at a time (around 4 pages per minute), so large volumes of documents will take much longer to print on an inkjet. This might not be a problem if you are printing a few letters at home, but if you are running a busy office then printer speed may be a consideration.

Duplex and paper trays

Some laser printers come with optional extras, like duplex units (for double-sided printing) and additional paper trays (e.g. for your company letterhead paper or envelopes). A duplex feature can literally reduce your ongoing paper costs by up to half.

Multi-Function

Multi-function units can offer features like printing, scanning, copying & faxing all from the one device. This can save you a lot of space. However, consider that if a function like the scanner breaks and needs to be repaired, you may also be without your printer, copier and fax while the unit is with the repairer.

Outsourcing and the Printing Press

Perhaps surprisingly, often the highest quality, easiest, and fastest way to print is also the least expensive: outsourced press printing. If you need to print many brochures, postcards, price sheets, or business cards, it is both costly and difficult to do so on home or office printing equipment. In an attempt to save money, the usual result is broken equipment and lots of frustration. Typically, if you need to print more than 500 brochures or 250 postcards, it will be cheaper and often faster to send the job out. Further, the quality of the resulting product will be much higher.

Computer Problem Solvers has forged relationships with the best wholesale print houses to provide you with top quality, fast printing services for any of your printing needs. Further, our staff can take care of all your graphic design and layout needs, eliminating the confusion of multiple vendors.

Contact us about how we can put these and other tips into action for you.


 

The information presented in Dave's Tricks & Tips is provided "as-is", and is not intended as a substitute for the hands-on services of Computer Problem Solvers.
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