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    How to buy a printer for your office

    How can SMB get more out of the business? How many times did this question cross your minds? There are four basic aspects to consider; ‘Plan, Process, People and Products’. Without a plan there can be no measures and without a measure there can be no improvement. You have to ask yourself; does the process run the business or support it? Are your people capable, trained and motivated? Does the product that you use do what you want, when you want it in a cost effective manner?  We are not going to focus on strategic planning, nor process control or staff development and retention. Our main concern is products and how they can save money and provide resources and time which will allow you to plan and measure, to validate and modify processes and motivate and develop your staff and your business.

    SMBs are usually concerned with stuff like cash flow, staffing, customers and managing growth. These are the things they classify as critical issues. When it comes to products like printers, they are not on top of mind for SMBs. However, a simple decision like what printer to buy can end up costing money – or providing benefits.

    Recently and thanks to advanced technology in the printing sector many of the SMBs have started to consider the in-house printing option rather than outsourcing their printing needs. If we take a good look at any office printing needs we would find them varying between several things like; official documents, contracts, brochures, letter heads, envelopes, business cards …etc. It’s very easy now to find a printer that meets all business’ needs and requirements. So when buying a printer if a considered decision is taken in a business perspective it can go a long way to saving money, time, and even being a motivational tool.

    The big question now is how to choose the right printer for your business. There are lots of types in the market nowadays; inkjet, Monochrome toner base printers LED/Laser, Colour toner base printers LED/Laser and Multi-function Printers Inkjet/mono/colour. How can you decide which one to buy and which one suits your line of business?

    There is no such a thing as a completely bad printer or a good printer, there is only a suitable printer. Each type of printers has its own pros and cons, the trick is to find out what are these pros and cons then decide upon them how suitable the printer would be for your business.

    Pros and Cons

    Inkjet

    When we talk about inkjet printers we can definitely say that they are cheap in price, they can print in colour and in photo mode they produce good print quality. However, they are very slow. Inkjet printers take more than 1 minute to print one A4 colour image (16PPM for colour toner base). They are very expensive to run and require a special media to deliver good quality printouts.

    Monochrome toner base printers LED/Laser

    Mono printers are reasonably priced; the cost of owning the printer is very economical. They provide fast printing for the business entry level starting at 20PPM and require no special media. Mono printers can print in duplex mode and are network ready, which is preferred for SMB, hence the ability to manage the printing resources and control cost and usage. The only con in mono printers is that they can’t print in colour.

    Colour toner base printers LED/Laser

    Colour printers don’t require special media to deliver good image quality. They are network ready and economical to own. They can print on heavy media that reaches up to 200 gsm in some machines and can print in duplex mode.

    To talk about colour printers cons we can sub classify the technology here to highlight them. Single pass is better than multi pass in terms of media flexibility and speed. Also, one should be aware of the fact that separate toners and drums are better than combined toner cartridge where customers can use the imaging unit to the end of its life regardless of the toner coverage on the page.  Printers that are equipped with tools to manage colour, network and usage, as well as to design templates are better because they are built to be ready out of the box solutions.

    Multi-function Printers Inkjet/mono/colour

    When it comes to MFPs, similar pros of the mono and colour toner base printers apply. In addition, MFPs are able to copy, scan, fax and of course print. In the case of proper SMB products the scanning should be network scanning. MFPs are very cheap when considering buying an inkjet one and reasonably priced when considering a toner base product.

    When talking about cons for the inkjet MFPs, the same cons of the inkjet printers mentioned before apply in this category as well. You should also be aware of none network colour toner base.

    Large format printers

    LFPs are used for specific type of applications like maps, indoor and outdoor banners. They are suitable for some advertising purposes and production houses; some of these organisations can be classified as SMBs. Considerations for purchase include the size of the printout and the set up cost for each print job.

    While LFPs supply the needs for indoor and outdoor large printouts, nevertheless they don’t fulfil all the printing needs and requirements for organisations such as production houses, and there is always a gap in printing small size images and point of sale materials like brochures, business cards, promotional leaflets, CD labels and small banners, which might also be required by their customers

    To avoid such a gap these organisations would require a printer that can address all the above mentioned applications. Some colour toner based printers would definitely be the suitable answer to such printing requirements, for they can print banners up to 120cm, produce very high quality images and print on thick media that reaches up to 300 gm.

    So which printer suits what business?

    Knowing what are the pros and cons of each type would definitely help you in deciding which printer suits your business, however, if you are still not sure about that here is some hints that can help you decide.

    Most of the inkjet printers are more suitable for domestic use and for Graphic Arts users who need high end photo quality products. As for mono printers; they depend on the product of course but they can be addressing SOHO/COHO, SMB, government and corporate use. Colour printers are suitable for COHO, SMB, government, special application market e.g. transfer paper, short run production and Graphic Arts applications. When talking about inkjet MFPs, they are best suited for domestic use or SOHO, while toner base are best for SOHO/COHO, SMB, corporate use and government as well as the special applications e.g. all of the previously mentioned plus document management applications.

    What to consider when buying a printer?

    There are various things you should consider when buying a printer. Of course there are important factors related to the users and the application but when generally speaking there are a few key considerations one should consider such as;

    Cost of ownership: One has to consider all relevant costs before buying a printer for example: consumables (Toner, Image drum, furses … etc.), media and the initial cost of buying the machine.

    Speed: Speed of printing is very important because time is a valuable factor. So when buying a printer one should consider how fast it is and whether this speed is good enough and suitable for business’ requirements.

    Management: For some users it is important to be bale to manage and control the printer, they should make sure the tools required for that are available as well as networkability.

    Media Flexibility: Depending on your business of course you should look for printers that are able to print on irregular media like CD labels, business card media, heavy weight media …etc.

    No one can deny how the SMB market is on the rise and how its business’ requirements are evolving accordingly. SMBs are more interested now in advanced network printers, technologies such as proofing systems and third dimension resolutions. They need the fast, the cost effective and the compact in size printers.

    Printing Vendors should be aware of the quick changes occurring in the market and the technologies required by SMBs. They should provide quicker products, more flexible and easier to use, packed with a variety of soft application that will assist in managing colour, network, printer resources, and make design of office documents as easy as possible.

    The main objective for the printing business now is to develop market leading in-house printing products that anticipate and meet the needs of business customers, whatever their size.

    General buying tips for SMB

    • Consider the price and yield of consumables beside the initial buying price.
    • Look at what kind of media deliver the best quality of printing and whether the printer requires a special kind of media like inkjet to get better results (media can be very expensive). Usually colour toner base can deliver very good quality when printing on regular office paper.
    • Look for a network printer if you are looking for a business printer, then look if there is soft tools to manage the printer and are they free or you have to pay for them and finally how easy are they to use.
    • If you have a problem of not having enough space look for a MFP, please note if it is a business MFP then network is something you have to look for not just for printing as a feature but also scanning should be considered then you have to look for what kind of soft tools are provided for you to mange your documents
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