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What Speed is Right for a Wide Format Printer?

Don't evaluate a wide format printer just by the numbers and the speeds they print. Most wide format printers within their functional categories will have almost identical speed specifications; however their productivity may vary substantially based upon a number of important factors.

Read below for what some of these factors are so you have a better understanding of the details behind the numbers.

Wide Format Printer Speeds

If you were considering two different wide format printers and the print speed specifications of one is 4 D-sized drawings (24" x 36") per minute (ppm) and the other is 6 ppm, all other factors being the same, is the 6 ppm printer faster? Sounds like a trick question, but like many things it really depends. The printer speed specification is nothing more than the physical output speed of the print engine, so yes the 6 ppm printer is faster than 4 ppm printer in this case. However, be careful limiting your evaluation to just the print engine specification, because there are other considerations to take into account as it relates to speed including:

What Speed is right for a Wide Format Printer

  • How much time it takes for the printer to warm up before it is capable of even generating a print
  • How much time it takes for the printer to physically output a document
  • How much time it takes to retrieve, collate and handle the paper

Printer warm up time

Some wide format printers and plotters take seconds to wake up and print while others take 3–5 minutes. You should also take into account what the printout time is when printing from sleep mode. This is an important factor to consider since most wide format printers will sit idle for the majority of the day since most of your printing is done in spurts. However, when you do need to print your wide format check plots or drawing sets, the last thing you want to do is sit and wait while the printer warms up. This is very frustrating and eats into your productivity, not to mention impacts your deadlines.

Print engine speed

As mentioned above, this is only one piece of the puzzle to be considered.

Paper handling

This factor is often overlooked as it is easy to assume that paper is paper and once it is printed the documents are nicely stacked and easy to retrieve. Well, this is not always the case. Look for paper exit trays that stack documents neatly and handle stacks of at least 50 sheets. Many wide format printers today still use catch baskets located at the front or rear bottom of the printer, making it extremely cumbersome to retrieve the documents, not to mention the fact that sets are never neatly collated.

These issues are only compounded with color inkjet printers as the aqueous nature of the printing process means the documents need to dry before they can be handled, often leading to delays in handling the prints and curled paper. There are inkjet printers on the market today that address these issues with unique delivery trays.

Again, don't limit your evaluation of a wide format printer or plotter to just the speed specifications. To learn more about speeds and other wide format printer specifications, download the Free Wide Format Printer Buyer's Guide.

Download the Free Océ Wide Format Printers Buyers Guide


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