Plotter printers

In-House Large Format Printing vs Outsourcing: What’s Better?

Architects, civil engineers, and construction industry pros, when it comes to the big printer, is it better to keep it in-house or send the work out?

Often the question comes down to the price of printing through an outside agent versus the average large format printer price. If you tend to print only occasionally, or in small quantities, then outsourcing the printing services may make more sense. If you print often, then an in-house large format printer may be more cost-effective in the long run.

You’ll also want to consider the price differential for large format colour printing versus black and white printing with your vendor. Colour options are increasingly available both in-house and out. Determine the costs of ink cartridges for your inkjet printer, the paper sizes your large-format printer can print, and other points of comparison.

You may find that your go-to printing service has raised prices as labour markets and other factors have shifted. This may impact our overall project budget and make in-house printing more attractive.

While the cost question is vitally important, it won't be the only consideration for whether it’s best to bring in your own large or wide format printer. You may consider these benefits as well.

Outsourcing your large format printing

If you don’t print often, then outsourcing can be a great option.

No equipment maintenance or upkeep

By outsourcing, you pass off the maintenance and upkeep of large format printers to your vendor. While this will be reflected in the price they charge, it does take the pressure off of a busy office. You or your staff won’t need to worry about ordering ink or paper or calling the service tech for scheduled maintenance.

No charge for mistakes

Outsource printers should be experts—otherwise what are you paying them for? This implies that they will know how to load, print, and execute your large or wide format printing project. If there’s a mistake or a paper misfeed, this won’t be reflected in your invoice.

By contrast, if you are using your own large format printer and the paper misfeeds, you will bear the costs, as you are also the one buying the paper. For some, that peace of mind is worth the cost.

In-house large format printing

If your office is printing frequently, or printing in large quantities, there are real advantages in doing your large format printing in-house.

Time savings

In-house printing is faster than outsourced for a number of reasons. You won't have to wait in your printer's queue while they finish work for other clients, or even for them to open in the morning. You can print your project right away, and at all hours of the day.

In-house printers also can feature features like digital file-sharing that make it quick to communicate with partners.

Control over scheduling

With an in-house printer, you won’t need to be subjected to the printer’s schedule for delivery. You won’t need to book your print job weeks in advance to ensure delivery to your own clients. As Hackworth puts it, “With in-house, you will be able to print the job according to your business schedule and can better meet the deadlines imposed upon you by the client requesting the printing.”

Quick changes

If you have outsourced your building plans or other large format projects, then making changes can be a challenge. You’d need to compile the data, deliver it to your vendor, and abide by their timelines.

But with in-house printing, your newly altered plans can be printed quickly and easily. Your project won’t need to wait for new plans to be scheduled.

Print from multiple devices

Instead of being limited to the types of files you can deliver to your printing vendor, in-house printing allows you to print in an array of file types from several different devices. DPS Magazine writes that architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) tradespeople are:

“communicating and sharing information, plans, and renderings to and from the field more frequently from the road or wherever their office is for the day. In this new environment, we’re seeing a need to print from various devices, including shared folders, USB thumb drives, tablets, and smartphones using multiple formats including PDF files, which transport a significant amount of data without a lot of bandwidth requirement,”

Complete control of print quality

With your own in-house large format printer, you can control the quality of your prints. If you are printing something that can be of draft quality, you can specify. If the printing project needs to be perfect and precise, the right in-house printer can deliver. Carrying out your printing in house can help you to streamline workflow, enable collaboration across departments and support a more agile work culture. Learn more about the ways architectural printers help AECs deliver their best work.

In our blog, Mastering Precision In Large Format Plan Printing - we’ve said that “The accuracy of printed technical drawings is crucial to the overall effectiveness and efficiency in which a project is carried out. Precision printing relies on harmonised integration of printer hardware, software, inks, and media.” In-house printing allows you to specify those levels of precision, and ensure that they are executed from beginning to end.

Eliminate miscommunication

Finally, in-house printing can help you avoid any undue miscommunication with your printing vendor. There’s no risk of missed deadlines, misunderstood instructions, or other pitfalls. Because you are the printer yourself, you can better control the project from start to finish. You can ensure proper line weights, colours, and other details in your communication with others on your project as well.


The decision of whether to in-house or outsource your big printer work has many variables. There are benefits to both and potential drawbacks. We would like to help as you weigh the costs and benefits. Read more about the best plotter printer for your company needs.

If you have decided to bring your large format printing in-house, contact us today.

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