Are you looking for information about wide format printers or plotters? If so, you've come to the right place. Due to advances in technology and user requirements, there are many factors that make up a wide format printer.
Some of the key criteria to consider as you collect information includes:
- Wide format printer types
- Color vs. black & white printing
- Wide format print technology and print sizes
- Wide format scanners
ENERGY STAR® certification
Wide Format Printer Types
Wide format printers generally come in one of two configurations: printer only or multi-function. Wide format printer only configurations are just that, they print digital files either submitted from a user's desktop or print from a history queue located on the wide format printer's controller. A recent development is the ability to print directly from a USB drive at the wide format printer. This accommodates walk-up printing in job-trailer environments for example.
Generally speaking, the wide format black & white printer market is segmented into 3 tiers, with machine differentiation based on the rated number of D-sized drawings (24" x 36") per minute (ppm). These speeds represent the physical output speed of the print engine, but should be looked at closely as other workflow factors such as file processing time and paper handling contribute to the overall productivity of the printer.
- Low Volume devices - range from 1–2 ppm
- Mid Volume devices - range from 4–8 ppm
- High Volume devices - range from 9–20 ppm
All wide format printers should be capable of supporting the most common files types, which include HP-GL, HP-GL/2, TIFF, JPEG, DWF, DWG, Adobe® PS®/PDF, CALS, NIFF, NIRS, ASCII and CalComp. Check these specifications closely if you are printing a non-standard type of file.
Most wide format printers will come standard with 1-2 rolls, capable of printing paper up to 36". The printers in the mid-to-high volume segments will be capable of adding additional rolls up to a maximum of 6. Printer paper substrates generally cover 20-28lb. bond as well as recycled paper. However watch this closely as some wide format printers do not react well with the extra paper dust associated with recycled paper. Some printers on the market today are also capable of printing on specialty papers such as Tyvek® media.
Multi-function devices are wide format printers that also come with a scanner. They are available in one of two configurations; those with the scanner mounted on top of the wide format printer and commonly referred to as single footprint devices, or stand alone scanners which are separate devices that sit adjacent to the wide format printer. Single footprint wide format printers are quite a bit smaller than their dual footprint counterparts, so consider these if your office space is tight. If you're not tight on space, a stand alone scanner may be a better choice. These devices can be configured to scan-to-file or scan-to-print directly to one or more wide format printers. They also provide better depth of field and thus better quality scans.
To learn more about wide format color and black and white printing, download the Free Wide Format Printer Buyer's Guide.
Resource Center Home Choosing A Wide Format Printer