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Print or Plotter?

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Tylor Larson
Print or Plotter?
on Nov 12, 2012 at 6:17:01 pm

1. Does any one know the difference between a wide format printer and a plotter? does one out perform over the other? also what kind of media can they work with. AKA vinyl, or photo paper. also how does it print? ink jet or is it a thermal process?

2. what printer would you suggest for everyday home printer... AKA one that doesn't have ink. I'm sick of having it dry out. Also it would mostly be for general use 8.5x11 pages.

Ty



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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Print or Plotter?
on Nov 13, 2012 at 4:28:47 pm

Most wide format printers these days are a type of ink jet. Plotters were awesome for making blueprints and schematics, but are mostly for special use printing these days and are rarely used (a plotter is basically a pen attached to x/y coordinating runners). Frankly, I wouldn't buy a plotter today as most pro-level inkjet printers print a much broader range and most printers have gotten rid of their plotters in favor of wide-format ink jets. My experience has been with Canon and Epson wide-format printers (60" and 54" respectively). They both have amazing color reproduction, can print on paper, canvas, vinyl, etc. and are all ridiculously expensive. Really, unless you are in a situation where you are printing for profit or your company absolutely must have one of these printers, send your stuff out to a local printer to have it printed. Your cost is more than just the printer: you will need to buy ink, media (ie: paper, vinyl, etc), don't forget shipping, then you will need a solid RIP (Raster Image Processor) as the ones that come with the printer have minimal features. You could easily spend $10k before you even print your first image. I remember a roll of photo paper, a complete set of ink, and the printer cost us something like $8500 - this included a deal with a supplier in Phoenix who was getting us a discount on supplies AND we had gotten a discount on the printer. When we finally found a RIP we all liked, we spent another $3k and then spend 3 weeks calibrating monitors to printers and vice versa. This was all from '06-07 (I've since left the company).

As for the ink, most home inkjets use water-based ink tanks which dry out. Most pro-wide-format printers use oil-based ink which doesn't dry out as easily. Honestly, if you are concerned your inks will dry out from lack of use, farm your print jobs to a local printer instead and let them take on the cost of purchasing and maintaining a wide-format printer.

For every day home use, don't bother with an ink jet. Stick with a good Brother or Xerox color laser printer. Toner doesn't dry out. I've been using the same toner (I bought the extended use toners) for the last 4 years. My per-page cost is pennies. If I had any inkjet, it would be $.40-0.85 a page. With a laser, the up-front cost is higher, but your long term cost for printing is far lower. I've also had far fewer problems with my laser than inkjets (like clogging, paper jams, poor color, reprints, etc.). If I need something big printed, I have a couple buddies who can print stuff for me just over cost, but even printing at full retail is better than trying to maintain my own printer.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Tylor Larson
Re: Print or Plotter?
on Nov 13, 2012 at 4:45:34 pm

WOW! Thank you so much... i kind of figured that was the case. i was hoping you would say some new technology is coming out that would make wide format printers more affordable to home users. i had no idea that the large format ink was different then consumer inks. is there a way to make a consumer printer to use oil based ink? namely canon printers. also how can you tell if a printer uses oil or water based inks?

what kind of xerox would you suggest. i would love one that supports 11x17 or larger paper so i can at least do proofs at home. i have had a ton of horrible problems with brother and HP products... i miss the days where scanners were scanners and printers were printers... this all in one crap makes me crazy... every time i use one of these all in one scanners it just sucks... and the printing is about the same.

Ty



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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Print or Plotter?
on Nov 13, 2012 at 8:02:43 pm

The way i found out about inks was by contacting Canon. We already had a 17" printer for proofs and tests. It was a pro printer that took a roll of paper. We also had a couple desktop inkjets and were wondering why the colors weren't matching. Canon basically clued us in - because of the types of substrates the pro printers use and the types of applications (ie: outdoors), oil-based inks are used. Some pro printers also use solvent-based inks, but I don't think Canon does.

The inks aren't compatible from one printer to another so you can't switch without a major overhaul and reconfiguring. I've heard of people getting Epson printers to use solvent inks for printing full color on t-shirts, but those were done for resale and it wasn't really an Epson printer when they were done - they were even able to print white on black.

HP lasers used to be really nice, but now they are loaded with problems - colors don't line up, you get hickeys and lines and the fusers go out at the worst times. If you are doing proofs, I'd say stick with a decent Canon - the colors may shift from home to commercial, but they remain pretty consistent. Same with Epson - good color on both consumer and pro printers. Since I'm not real familiar with the current offering for pro vs. consumer right now, I suggest finding one that meets your needs and try it. You can always return it and try a different one. I suggest printers with separate color cartridges for each color and look for ones that let you get higher capacity for each ink tank.

For daily printing, use a laser if you can. Lasers are notorious for poor color for proofing, though. Toner just doesn't work like inkjet. Even my color laser requires a lot of tweaking both in Photoshop and with the built in driver. And then, when you're all done, it doesn't match when you send it to the printer! :(

What I do is print a color bar chart (they're all over the web) that's pretty good for color, then print a proof with close colors. I make notes in marker on the proof (ie: make richer red or can you increase contrast?) and give it with my files on a jump drive to the printer. I generally get very nice results.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Tylor Larson
Re: Print or Plotter?
on Nov 14, 2012 at 4:10:15 pm

thanks again. i was thinking of getting a nice larger format canon with inkjet for home proofs. i have heard they are really close to most professional presses. I use to have a larger 7750 xerox and had a ton of issues getting it set up. It also got miss used by some other people in my office and causes the fans and fuser to fail. because they were slamming heavy card stock through it without changing the settings to card stock. which basically caused the unit to over heat. i also had a hell of a time trying to get registration marks to line up. you figured for the price they would be a little more user friendly.

BTW i really love the look of your site. very clean.

Ty



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