5 Steps to Choosing the Best Plotter for Your Business's Needs
Businesses in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) and design industries are more reliant than ever on plotter printer machines to bring their ideas to fruition. However, with so many plotter options available, it can be difficult to find the right one for your application based on the features and functionalities you need. Finding the best plotter will take some work unless you know exactly what to look for in the right solution.
If you need some help locating the best plotter for you, the following are five key steps in selecting a plotter based on your needs. By following these steps, you'll be able to make the right choice and get the best possible results. So, let's dive into these steps:
Step 1: Identify Your Reason for Needing a Plotter
The very first step you'll want to take when looking for the best plotter is to determine why you need this type of printer. Consider the following reasons:
Some professionals and organisations use plotter printers to streamline their workflows. In this case, the right printer should work with your existing hardware and software while remaining accessible to all employees. In the process, the plotter can help increase the efficiency of your workflow.
Keeping Up With Printing Demands
Another of the most common plotter printer uses is to keep up with growing printing demands. As your business grows and your operations require more output, you should invest in a plotter that provides you with consistently efficient and scalable service.
Reducing the Cost of Outsourcing
Businesses that use plotters can also save more money on outsourcing. While outsourcing printing may be beneficial in some instances, companies might have the capital to invest in their own plotters, helping them cut down on printing costs in the long run after a one-time purchase.
Meeting Print Quality Requirements
One of the most popular plotter printer uses is to maximise print quality. Many of today's best plotter printers can produce great quality for all types of materials, from smaller poster projects to large banners and other media.
Step 2: Research Available Plotter Types and Their Features
You'll also want to take steps to locate the best plotter based on the different models and features you want. Take the following into consideration to further help you find a plotter that meets your needs:
The Various Applications of Plotters
Some common plotter printer uses in business applications include:
Many businesses rely on plotter printers to produce computer-aided design (CAD) drawings to develop 2D designs of various products. CAD plotters are best for these materials.
The Inkjet Plotter's Competitive Advantage
Inkjet technology gives many plotters the ability to print consistently high-quality prints, with thermal inkjet technology preferred today over continuous inkjet tech for its specific advantages. Thermal inkjet plotters can produce top-quality prints, reduce the cost of buying a plotter, and work with many types of porous and non-porous surfaces to provide more versatility.
Businesses Must Prioritise Their Needs Before Choosing a Plotter
Think about your business's specific requirements when it comes to plotters, such as:
Capitalising on the Average Lifespan of Plotter Printers
You'll want to find a plotter that lasts as long as you need it to last. Most of today's plotters last for around three to six years, depending on the specific model you choose.
Calculating the Overall Cost
Hardware Cost — Consider the cost of the printer itself and whether you can make this initial investment.
Ink and Toner Cost — Determine how much ink and toner you will need for your projects and, subsequently, how much you'll need to spend on refills.
Main Unit Delivery Time — The efficiency of your plotter will help minimise the amount of time it takes to fulfill orders once placed.
System Maintenance — The quality of your plotter and frequency of use will also dictate how often you need to perform maintenance and its costs.
Step 3: Consider the Plotter Specifications
Businesses that use plotters will also want to consider the specifications they need for their applications.
The Essential Specifications That Businesses Should Evaluate
The specifications to consider include the following based on plotter printer uses:
Consider the print resolution you need. As a rule of thumb, smaller print jobs benefit from dots-per-inch (dpi) of around 300, while larger projects need at least 100 dpi.
Print Speed and Quality
Determine the pages per minute you need to print with each project and ensure that quality doesn't degrade with increased efficiency.
Print Job Size and Number of Colours
Your plotter should be able to accommodate the print sizes and colours you need to print.
Assessing the Compatibility of Plotter With Different Media Types and Sizes
When selecting your plotter, consider the various print media you want to print on. For instance, you might want to print on glossy or matted paper, plastic, fabric, or even harder surfaces like cardboard and metal. You may also need to consider media sizes from A10 to A0.
Here are some other considerations that can help you find the best plotter:
Roll-Feed or Sheet-Feed Options
For shorter printing runs, you may benefit from sheet-fed plotters that use individual sheets of print media. Meanwhile, roll-feed options might be best for large-volume applications.
You may be able to boost efficiency with a plotter that includes an automatic cutter.
To further optimise efficiency, you may want a dual-roll feature that allows you to print two rolls simultaneously.
Step 4: Size of Installation Site
The space requirements in your facility will also determine which printer you choose.
Different Company Sizes Will Require Different Plotter Sizes
If you operate a small business with a more confined space, take this into account when selecting a plotter. Your printer should be able to fit within the designated space, but accessories like stands can help you make the most of available space if needed.
Step 5: Compare With Other Plotter Models and Evaluate ROI
Consider the options available to you and compare and contrast them. Ultimately, you should determine which option is best based on the return on investment it offers.
Understanding How to Choose a Plotter Model Above the Rest
Look for the specific functionalities and features you need and how they can help you maintain your operations. Is the initial purchase worth the investment in the long term? Consider your printing capabilities and the returns they'll bring compared to the costs of ink, toner, and maintenance. A high-quality plotter will give you plenty of prints with consistent reliability to help maximise ROI.
What Is Long-Term ROI?
Long-term ROI is the estimated annual rate of return over a long period of time, which will vary from business to business. Determine the long-term ROI of a plotter before making your purchase.
Calculating ROI When Making a Plotter Investment
When investing in a plotter, look at every factor to help you calculate the total ROI of your investment. These factors will include:
- Ink costs, including the cost of ink usage and ink types
- Hard costs such as the plotter itself, substrates used, and finishes
- Energy costs of running the plotter
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