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Printer Types and Papers
Talking to a customer recently about their printer and she said she wasn’t happy with the results and wished she had never bought the machine. Struck me as a little odd as I found out she had purchased one of the Epson eco tank printers. Epson printers produce great results and refilling with bottle ink, running costs as so low and very cost effective. I inquired a little further, and found out she wasn’t happy with the printing results. She wasn’t aware that different types of printer paper make all the difference to printing results.
This being the case, I thought I would write this article to give others a bit of a heads up before purchasing a printer. A few points to consider so you buy the right machine for your printing purposes.
Choose the right printer for you
This is a point you really want to think about before purchasing a new printer. If you’re a home user you may only want to print the occasional document or photo and if your running a business or have a home office you may print documents, brochures and handouts in higher volumes. Do you need to have a colour machine or really only need black and white?
Lets try to break it down a bit, these are the main choices to have a think about
- inkjet / laser
- low volume use / high volume use
- black & white / colour
- printer / multi-function
- cost your supplies
Inkjet or Laser
There are two main types of machines on the market, inkjet printers or laser printers. Inkjet printers use liquid ink and laser printers use toner, a powder heat process. They produce very different printing results.
Inkjet printer can be a good choice if you don’t print that often and need a bit of colour. You can purchase a model for under $100. Do be aware, inkjet printers need to be used. If they sit for too long the print head will clog up. Low cost inkjet printers mean quite high running costs, meaning cartridges can be expensive. But they can still be a good option as you can print the occasional document or photo. These low cost models usually use two cartridges, one black and a tri colour cartridge. You need both in the machine to be able to print.
Spend a little more, and you have an option of an inkjet printer which uses individual ink cartridges. This usually means a black, cyan, magenta and yellow. In theory, you can replace the colour which runs out. These machines also have more features which you may enjoy.
Another printer technology is a refillable machine, no cartridges. Both Epson and Canon manufacture printer models in these ranges. Epson is known as the “Eco Tank” and Canon is known as the “Mega Tank”. Epson has many models on the market in this range. Really is an excellent option for high volume printing if you need colour. These machines are refilled using bottle inks, no printer cartridges. These machines can be more expensive to purchase but the running costs as so much lower.
Inkjet models use plain paper, such as reflex and a special coated paper commonly referred to as “photo paper”. Photo paper has a coating made especially for inkjet printers which means they can produce outstandingly glossy, crisp vibrant prints. You can print photos in your home or office without having to go to a store.
A Laser printer may be more suited to your needs. There are many models available now in both colour and mono (black and white). Laser printers are a great option if you don’t print often as they can sit for a while without being used. A laser printer is usually more suited to an office environment as it can produce many prints for less cost. It does depend on the model though, so make sure to do your costings before purchasing a machine.
Laser printers can produce a print on plain paper which can have almost a gloss finish, depending on your model, whereas the inkjet on plain paper looks a bit dull and lifeless and needs the photo paper to produce the bright glossy results. Laser printers use plain paper, such as reflex, heavyweight paper and laser papers. Be sure not to use an inkjet ‘photo paper’ in a laser printer as you will mess up your machine. Laser printers produce prints using a heat process and if you put a photo paper in a laser printer it will stick up inside your machine, and it’s cactus!
Low or High Volume Printing
Think about this, do you print occassionally or are you in an office or business environment printing daily? Your choice can make all the difference. If you’re printing documents or invoices daily, I highly recommend investing in an eco tank or mega tank printer. No printer cartridges and you refill with liquid ink when needed and your invoices and documents can be printed in colour on plain paper at a low cost. If you need the occasional brochure or photo you also have this option, just keep some photo paper, or heavyweight paper on hand.
Black & White or Colour
A laser printer might be a good choice if you don’t print often and just need black and white (mono) prints. Laser printers can be unused for a while without any problems as they use toner, powder cartridges. There are many models from manufacturers such as Kyocera, Lexmark, Brother and HP. All excellent choices, just check out the cost of the toner cartridges before you purchase a machine so there are no surprises
Colour is a little more tricky. Basically breaks down to your usage. Are you going to print occasionally or more often? If you’re an occasional user and just want the option, a low cost printer might be a good choice for you. Purchase a printer which uses a black & tri colour cartridge or individual cartridges, black, cyan, magenta and yellow. Before you decide on a model, I can’t stress this enough, check out the prices of the cartridges and also the page yields you can expect from each cartridge. As a guide, page yields are calculated at 5% coverage. If you print a photo that is 100% page coverage which blows the page yield completely out of the water.
High volume colour printing is more cost effective with an epson ecotank or canon megatank printer in my opinion. You have the option of printing at home or in the office. Browse Epson’s range of eco tank models, there are many to choose from, all with a range of features. Machines are a little more expensive, but the running costs are so low it’s well worth the investment. Another bonus is you are using genuine Epson ink which means you don’t have to run the risk of using generic ink which decreases the life of the machine. Feed your printer with the best possible ink and you’ll get many years of usage.
Printer or Multi-Function
Okay so your next choice is just a printer or would a multifunction be a good idea. Personally I think a multifunction is the better choice, especially in todays world. It gives you the choice of copying, scanning documents and printing all in the one model. Scanning your documents and sending via email if now virutally a must in todays world as more and more is done online. Makes sense to purchase a multifunction so you have the option if needed. Think about purchasing a model with a document feeder as you can scan single or double sided (depending) of the models features. Makes life a lot easier. You can scan your document from home or office and send off via email when needed in both colour and black and white, a handy feature. Before you purchase a model do check on the scanning capabilities, some models only scan single sided, just depends on your needs. Saves you having to purchase software on your computer to achieve the same results, a cheaper option.
I confess, I’ve just purchased an Epson WF4835 due to the scanning features offered in this model. Needed to be able scan documents in the home office and this model was a low cost option to enable me to do that. Might be a bit of a printer freak, as I have three other printers, all offering different features. Definately in the right business I think, ha! I have an A4 colour laser and A3 inkjet printer for the bigger printing projects!
Cost of Supplies
Okay people stressing this – cost your supplies before purchasing a machine!! The amount of customers I see daily that have been sold a machine that have no idea about the cost of their supplies. Don’t purchase a machine until you cost the supplies. It’s important to know what your machine is going to need. For laser printers, the models may use both a toner and a drum. These are two separate components which need to be replaced after a certain number of pages are printed. In Epson’s case the new inkjet models use both cartridges and a maintenance cartridge. Personally, I think this is great as there is no service requirement as the excess ink goes into the maintenance tank and you can replace it yourself. With Canon models you need a service technician to replace a pad in the machine. Not cost effective, hopefully Canon will move to a maintenance tank too. Much easier for users of their machines.
Can it really make a difference, you betcha! Don’t bag you’re printer, it really can produce the results you’re after, you may just not be aware you need to give it the right paper to help it to do so. The first thing to need to determine is whether you printer is an inkjet or laser printer. This makes all the difference, and is really important.
Inkjet printers can use plain paper, heavyweight papers and coated “photo papers”. Photo papers are specially designed paper for use with inkjet printers. When printed the coating ensures crisp, bright, vibrant prints in either gloss, satin, semi-gloss or matte. You’ll notice with plain paper, the image may bleed, or having jaggy edges, but with a photo paper is crisp and clear.
Laser printers can use plain paper, heavyweight papers and colour copy laser paper. If you need a slightly heavy paper, color copy is a great option, available in both 120gsm and 160gsm packs. Color copy is a paper especially designed for laser printers.
Paper can make all the difference as well the the type of printer you are using.
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