What types of printers are available?

A quick overview of types of available printers.

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These days the functionality and technologies in printers are converging but there are still some important differences

Types of printers

When looking to buy a new printer for your business, you will notice there are many different types available. Varying in functionality, as well as the technology they use to actually produce prints, it can be hard to know which printer is most suitable for your use case - especially if you are not familiar with printer technology.

The good news is that as a business user, you can ignore much of what is out there. A huge percentage of printers are geared at consumer use cases and are not suitable for efficient business printing - and another big chunk of printers on the market are tailored to specialists.

Printers businesses should care about

Businesses looking for new printers should focus their attention towards a subset of available devices. These devices are designed specifically for business use cases - with with durability, low running costs and reliability the main concerns.

Laser printers

Laser printers are amongst the most efficient printers you can buy. They use a laser to create a static impression on a cylinder known as a drum. This impression attracts and holds powdered ink called toner. Sheets of paper pick up the toner as they are fed over the drum. The paper is then heated until the toner permanently fuses to the paper. This means minimal wastage as toner is only deposited exactly where it is needed, and it sits on top of the paper - rather than soaking in like liquid ink would.

There are some new developments in printers that make efficient use of ink - and they are quite promising. They are not yet proven solutions though, so for the time being, you are going to want to ensure your business printer is a laser printer.

Multifunctional or Single function printers

Multifunctional printers perform many functions in business settings. They can email and backup scans of documents. They can produce booklets and pamphlets. They can even be set up with secure printing technology to ensure only approved people can access restricted documents.

All these things come at a price though. Multifunctional printers can be very expensive. It is worth considering very closely whether you need the extra functionality offered by an MFP over a print-only printer. You may find it cheaper to get a small print-only printer and outsource large or complicated print jobs to someone else.

Single function printers are smaller than their MFP counterparts and are very limited in what they can do. They will print cheaply and quickly and you can connect them to a network... and that is it.

If you are often producing documents (booklets, leaflets, reports, etc), or doing a LOT of printing, an MFP will work out the cheapest in the long run though. As the savings on document finishing will be large and the print-cost efficiency of these machines is very high when they are used closed to capacity.

What to consider

It is worth closely considering what your businesses actual requirements are. The more capabilities you want, the more expensive they are. The more expensive they are, the more efficient they tend to be. Is it better to save time, by producing documents in house? Is it better to save money by restricting printing and outsourcing when it is unavoidable?