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Adding a Larger Printer

(April 2008) posted on Wed Apr 09, 2008

When it makes sense to add a production level printer to your shop-- and why.

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By Peggy Middendorf

At some point, every shop owner asks, 'Do we need a bigger printer?' The triggers may be different, but if you’re experiencing longer turn times, have frequent machine breakdowns that impact deadlines, need to add another shift (at least on some days), or are outsourcing overflow capacity on a regular basis, you may want to look at adding a larger, production-oriented printer to your shop's mix.

Print providers need more than a gut feeling-they need hard criteria to determine if a large production machine is right for their shop. What follows is an array of criteria that can help graphics providers match up their shop's needs with a new and larger printer.

Taking on more 'payload'

When your shop is considering the addition of a larger printer, one option might be adding a machine that’s referred to as a 'production-level' printer. Print providers often hear this term touted about the marketplace, but it remains a bit fuzzy. The only thing about production-level printers that most of the marketplace agrees on is that they are super wide and meet some 'industrial' level of performance-but after that, the definition isn't clear. The term generally involves three aspects of the printer: width, heavy-duty frame or capabilities, and production speed.

Roland, for instance, defines a production-level press as 'a 72-inch or larger printer that achieves a print speed of at least 500 square foot/hr at 360 x 360-dpi resolution,' says Rick Scrimger, vice president and general manager of Roland’s Color Products Division. He also notes that the printer should feature piezo printhead technology or better.

Meanwhile over at Mutoh America, Brian Phipps, western sales director, admits that 'production-level press' is an ambiguous term, but defines it as a printer that "is a minimum of 64-inches wide, holds large rolls of media (around 200 pounds), and has the capability of running more than one shift.' He likens the difference between a production and a 'regular' press to the difference between a light-duty Ford F150 pickup and a Ford F350 super-duty truck. 'They’re similar but one is more expensive, will last longer, and holds more payload.'