What are production printers?
Production printers are heavy-duty pieces of equipment designed to produce a very high volume of high-quality prints. They can be configured to print on standard paper stock, heavyweight papers, cardstock, vellum, mixed media, synthetics and even linen.
Production printers are often used by organizations trying to print flyers, catalogues, manuals, posters, calendars, books or very large runs of standard paper stock.
However, they are also used for very high-resolution printing as they can be configured to handle higher resolutions of 2400 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) for colour printing and 9600 x 600 dpi interpolated with 8-bit colour depth for black and white printing.
What are the primary benefits of using a production printer?
There are two main reasons why businesses decide to purchase a production printer:
- The potential for significant time savings
- Bringing your printing inhouse
- The ability to do large volumes of high-quality prints without overloading your device
Significant time savings
A production printer can save a ton of time for your team in a few different ways. High-capacity feeders let you run thousands of prints without stopping to reload print trays and a wide range of finishing options allow you to automate the stacking, punching, trimming and stapling of your print jobs.
For example, if you select a device with a booklet maker, you can produce 200+ page saddle-stitched books entirely inhouse.
The user interface of a production printer is also much more sophisticated than a standard multifunction printer (MFP), reducing the time to prepare print jobs, calibrate colours and personalize documents.
Bringing your printing inhouse
There are many reasons why you may want to bring your printing inhouse. You have more flexibility to personalize and design the exact type of final product you want; you can run the equipment whenever you want rather than waiting for a print shop to get to your order and most importantly, you don’t need to pay someone else to produce your printing for you.
Capacity for high-volume printing
This benefit is self-explanatory. All MFPs are designed to handle a particular volume of printing before the wear and tear on their moving parts begin to cause breakdowns and increased maintenance requirements.
Production printers are composed of robust parts and materials that can handle the rigours of high-volume printing in a way that a typical office MFP can’t match.
What does a production printer cost?
As with just about any time the question of cost comes up, our answer ultimately boils down to “it depends.” The price of a production printer can vary wildly depending on how you configure it.
Expect to spend at least $25,000 for an entry-level production printer and well over $250,000 for a premium model decked out with all the bells and whistles.
This significant upfront price tag is just one cost to consider, however. Production printers are sophisticated machines and require specialized service technicians if and when they require maintenance.
Since they produce such a large volume of printing output, they also tend to chew through a considerable number of toner cartridges and finishing consumables such as staples and bindings. Be sure to consider both of these factors when calculating your real cost of ownership.
Ultimately, what a production printer is going to cost you depends on how you intend to use it. The price to purchase a device to produce ultra-high-resolution images is going to be different than if your goal is to produce 500,000 bound pamphlets or booklets annually.
Are there any downsides to using a production printer?
Now that we have pumped up all the benefits of using a production printer, you are probably wondering if there are downsides to such a high-tech piece of equipment. Production printers do indeed have a few notable disadvantages you need to consider.
- Take up a lot of space
- Quite expensive
- Large power requirements
Production printers take up a lot of space
Production printers are big pieces of equipment. Basic configurations are often eight or nine feet long, while a larger unit can be as long as 26 feet. Many of these devices also require a bubble of unobstructed space around them to access the various modules for service and to refill consumables.
Office space has a cost. If you are trying to decide whether you should bring your printing inhouse, it’s worth considering the floorspace sacrificed for the device.
Production printers are quite expensive
As we discussed in the previous section on cost, technology like this does not come cheaply. A production printer could bring tremendous value to your organization, but they are also a significant investment.
Production printers have significant power requirements
A standard office MFP only requires a 115-volt plug, but a production printer requires much more power. Some units require as many as two 220-volt, 20-20-amp lines to operate.
Questions to ask before buying a production printer
Before making the substantial investment that is the purchase of a production printer, there are a few essential questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you need multiple production print product lines?
- How much printing do you plan on doing? How many different mediums do you want to print on? How complex are your print jobs (ex. large runs of a single page vs merging dozens of documents into one booklet)?
- Are service and support available?
- Servicing a production printer requires specialized training. Does your manufacturer or dealer have trained service technicians in your local area? If you live outside of an urban area, what is their estimated response time for a service call in your area?
- What media sizes are you printing?
- Most production printers are configured to print paper sizes up to A3+ or 13″ x 19″ (329mm x 483mm). However, they can be extended to print sizes up to 366mm x 520mm.
- Which brand should you consider?
- There are many production printer brands to consider, with both pros and cons to each selection. Be sure that whichever you choose either has a local service team or a trusted local dealership with a service team trained on production equipment.
Are you thinking of buying a new production printer?
If you made it to the bottom of this page, then you must either have decided you want to go ahead and purchase a production printer for your organization or else you have questions we missed addressing on this page.
Are you in the latter camp and have questions you want to have answered? Either fill out the form on the right of the page or follow this link to request a consultation with one of our production print experts.
Or, if you believe a new production printer could add value to your business? Reach out to find your local showroom and schedule a free demo of the equipment.