Tips & Advice
Whether you're a small-to-medium sized business or a multi-national corporation, choosing the right printer/copier is an important aspect of your day-to-day operations. Follow these tips to help you make the right selection for your company.
Inkjet vs. Laser
Colour inkjet printers are the most popular printers on the market because they can print just about anything. However, the printed text does not look as sharp as it does compared to a laser printer. They also print slower and often have higher upkeep costs.
Laser printers are ideal for offices since they can print large volumes of text quickly and cheaply. Laser printouts also don't run when they get wet. Recently, colour laser printers have dropped in price, making them more affordable for many businesses. However, the cost for toner can still be expensive. If you favour printing small quantities, then an inkjet is probably your best bet.
Many printers also include a scanner. This is great for cost-savings, as well as for locations where space is at a premium. Manufacturers are also beginning to make added capabilities standard on their machines, so you may not even have to choose between an all-in-one or a standalone printer.
If your business requires the printing of many photo-quality items such as albums or brochures, you may want to consider purchasing a specialized photo printer. It's important to note that there will be higher costs for both paper and ink.
Be sure to research the cost of replacing your ink or toner cartridge before you even purchase your printer. Sometimes, it makes more sense to purchase a more expensive printer if it has cheaper cartridges. You may also want to consider saving money by having your cartridges refilled by a qualified company. Some manufacturers, however, add electronic chips to their cartridges to prevent refilling.
Duplexing (One-Sided or Double-Sided)
Save money on paper and help the environment by purchasing a printer that has automatic duplexing (double-sided printing or scanning). This also saves you the effort of having to manually flip over each and every page. Consider this to also be an investment in productivity.
Most printers these days offer multiple connectivity options. The more options, the more ways you can print. Notable networking extensions include USB ports, Ethernet connectivity, and Wi-Fi. These options are great for mobile and out-of-office printing.
If you plan on printing a lot of photos or large files, you may want to consider printers with memory card slots, PictBridge or Cloud capabilities. This saves you from having to manually copy the files from your device onto a computer that's connected to the network.
Do your print on more than just standard 8.5x11 papers? If so, you may want to have printers that allow for multiple feeds of different sizes, such as legal, post cards, index cards or envelopes. You may also want to consider purchasing a printer with a larger tray, so you don't have to replace the paper as often.
Speed, Resolution and Colour
Most manufacturers publish the printing speed, resolution and colour fidelity of their printers, as outlined by the International Standards Organization (ISO). While this makes comparing cost to quality easier, it doesn't account for specialty printing needs, such as photo printing or custom size printing. It's always best to speak with a printing expert to find a printer or copier that meets your needs.
Now that you selected the right printer/copier, it's time to care for your investment. Here are some tips that will help you extend your printer/copier's lifespan.
Be sure to always turn off the power before opening your printer for maintenance and allow your printer to cool down. This prevents you from burning your fingers on hot surfaces and from doing unnecessary damage to the printer itself.
Clean Your Printer Heads
If your last print job came out blurry or with ink streaks across the page, then it's time to clean your printer heads. Many printers now offer self-cleaning capabilities. You may also opt to clean the printer heads manually. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's guide for specific instructions.
Remove Dust and Dirt
In addition to cleaning your printer heads, it's also important to periodically clean away dust and debris that have accumulated. The preferred method is to use a small vacuum to lightly suck away loose particles. Do not use an air canister. Some people even use purified water to clean the ink cartridges. Be sure to read the manual since certain actions are not recommended on certain printers.
Resolve Mechanical Errors with Care
Paper jam? Don't get frustrated and start trying to forcefully remove it. Printers require a bit of finesse. Refer to the warning message and your manual to learn how to properly resolve any errors. Usually, it's best to use both hands to slowly pull out the jammed paper without leaving any ripped shreds behind. Also, do not load paper that's crumpled or has tears.
Purchase a Maintenance Kit
Many manufacturers also supply maintenance kits for an additional cost. These kits often include replacement parts, cleaning supplies, rollers and other accessories. This can save you money and reduce downtime from having to purchase last minute parts.
Depending on the nature of your business, printing costs can be a substantial portion of your annual operating budget. Here are some tips to help you save on business costs. But remember, the best rule is still: only print what you have to.
Print Multiple Pages on One Sheet
If you're printing outlines or notes for a PowerPoint presentation, consider printing more than one slide/page per sheet. You can do this by selecting 'Handouts' from the 'Print what' drop-don menu. You can also achieve the same result in Microsoft Word's print menu by changing the 'Number of pages ' options. If your printer offers duplex capabilities, be sure to take advantage of it. Printing in grayscale also helps reduce the amount of ink used.
Take Advantage of 'Print Preview' and 'Shrink to Fit'
Before finalizing your print job, use the 'Print Preview' feature of your program. This allows you to see if there's extra text at the end of your document that you may have forgotten to delete during your proofread. Web browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer also have a 'Shrink to Fit' feature that accomplishes the same result. Microsoft Word automates the process by allowing you to fit all your content onto a single page by selecting 'Shrink One Page' in the 'Print Preview'.
Only Print the Section or Pages You Need
If you only need to print a small portion of a larger document or webpage, choose 'Selection' under the 'Print Range' section of the print menu. This works on most word processors and web browsers. Simply highlight what you want to print before initiating the printing sequence.
Print Multiple Selections on a Single Page
HP Smart Web Printing (for Windows only) allows you to collate several selections into a single printed document. What's useful about this program is that even though it's published by HP, it works with virtually any printer. Even better, it's free.
Make 'Draft Mode' Your Default Setting
If the majority of your printing needs don't require a high-quality finished document, consider making 'Draft Mode' your default print quality setting. You can access this under your printer options. The actual name of this mode will vary by printer, but it's usually pretty easy to figure out which setting will use the least ink.
Consider Printing to PDF Instead
If you just need to save something, but don't need an actual physical copy, save it as a PDF instead. Most printers and programs now allow for you to save a PDF version that looks exactly like a printed document. There are also many free programs that can add this capability for you.
Refill Your Own Cartridges
Refilling your cartridges is a great money-saving option for those who don't need photo-quality printed documents. This can be done by you or by hiring a specialized service. It's important to note that some manufacturers have now installed chips on their cartridges that disable self-refilling.
Print Your Pictures Using an Online Supplier
Consider using a picture printing service to print your photos. If you only occasionally print photos, it may not be worthwhile to invest in a high-quality photo printer. Plus, photo printing also uses a lot of ink.