Plotter printers

When Should You Replace Your Large Format Printer?

A large format printer is critical for your business. You need a reliable, high-quality printer that can produce all the materials you need. This, in turn, helps your departments with their needs and keeps you from having to outsource as much. However, nothing lasts forever, and your business will need to know the answer to the question of how often should you replace your printer?

Eventually, your large format printer will start to show signs of wear and age. You need to know when you should replace your large format printer, ideally before it dies altogether and leaves you in the lurch.

So, how do you know when it is time to replace your large format printer? And how often should you replace your printer?

When Is It the Right Time to Replace Your Large Format Printer?

You need to replace your printer before it fails. If your large format printer fails, then print operations will be delayed, or you may have to scramble to find a third party who can take care of print jobs for you.

There is no set lifespan for large format printers, so there's no one answer to the question of how often should you replace your printer? Toner-based (laser) printers typically cost a lot more than inkjet printers but last longer. Your printer's lifespan is also affected by how much you use it. Using it more often naturally increases wear. Ironically, using an inkjet printer rarely can also shorten its life. So, rather than having a set number of years, you should watch your printer's behaviour for signs it is reaching the end of its life.

Maximising Profitability Is a Key Requirement for Most Businesses

With this, as with everything else, you should also consider your profitability. Waiting too long to replace a printer can result in downtime. It can also slow down your print jobs. After all, printers slow down with age, and technology moves on. Moving too fast, of course, wastes money. However, you should avoid the easy out of just dividing the printer's price by your budget and trying to make it last that number of years.

Signs That It's Time To Replace Your Large Format Printer

Having established that the printer should be replaced when it shows signs of wear rather than at an arbitrary time, you need to know what to look out for. Here are some signs that your printer is about to reach the end of its life:

1. Technology Becomes Out-of-Date

Sometimes you might have to replace your printer not because it is worn out but because it is obsolete. For example, it may be struggling to print modern, complex files. Alternatively, you might no longer be able to get up-to-date drivers. Sometimes companies take a long time to update drivers, and if the printer is older or business-critical, it might be better to replace it.

The question of how often should you replace your printer should also examine non-printing concerns. Another issue is that your printer might become a network vulnerability if it no longer receives firmware updates. As network security improves (and the need for it increases), older devices can become a risk.

2. Too Many Breakdowns

Yes, your printer will break down. It can even feel like it waits to break until there is a particularly critical job in the queue. However, if the number of breakdowns is increasing and reducing everyone's productivity, it's time to think about replacing the printer.

In some cases, you might be able to refurbish the printer instead to get more use out of it, but if it is also starting to look obsolete, it can be cheaper in the long run to replace it.

3. Cost of Maintenance Goes Up

Another good reason to replace your printer is if ink and supplies are getting more and more expensive or harder to find. If a printer model has been discontinued, the manufacturer may also discontinue the ink eventually, forcing you to purchase third-party ink from people who might want to take advantage of this.

Preventive maintenance can also become more expensive, both because there are more issues with the printer and because service contracts may go up in price or even become unavailable.

4. Print Quality Starts to Decrease

When your printer is new, decreased print quality can be fixed with fresh ink and possibly a new head or drum. However, as it ages, it may develop lines or streaks across the page. When these become visible and basic maintenance doesn't resolve the issue, it's absolutely time to replace the printer.

5. It Takes Too Long to Complete a Print Task

As your printer ages, it prints more slowly. An excellent page rate from when it was new may eventually drop below acceptable. If you have employees waiting around for print tasks to complete, then your printer is taking too long and costing you money.

If any or all of these things are true, then it's time to consider a new large format printer.

Things to Consider When Replacing Your Large Format Printer

It's not just a question of how often should you replace your printer? When you do need a new printer, you need to get the right one. Your printer is, after all, a key piece of equipment. Here are some things to consider:

Your Budget

How much can you afford to spend on the printer? Consider its likely lifespan. As already mentioned, toner-based printers are more expensive than inkjet ones. But they tend to last longer, so they may be cheaper in the long run. However, for most companies, a high-quality inkjet printer will likely last past the point of technological obsolescence.

Cheaping out on your printer is not going to help you. But at the same time, you should not spend more than you need to.

Print Quality and Quantity Requirements

Toner-based printers tend to be faster, but inkjet typically offers higher print quality. Inkjet printers are also often more flexible and can handle rigid materials better.

You should also look at the quality of colour the printer produces and consider your needs. If you print a lot of colour copies, then you need a higher print quality. If you print high quantities, make sure your printer has a good page rate and can handle being unattended for long periods without the risk of jamming.

Your Business's Printing Objectives

Also, consider what your business typically prints. A latex inkjet printer, for example, is ideal if you print on a lot of rigid materials, such as signs and packaging. However, if you print on fabric, you will want a specialist fabric printer that gives good colour consistency.

It sometimes pays to talk to an expert about your objectives and the best kind of printer for your business.

Which Printer Will Increase Efficiency?

Lastly, consider efficiency. This means taking into account page rate (which determines how long jobs take), quality (which determines how often you have to repeat a task), and ease of maintenance. You want a printer that will be more efficient than your old one.

Reach Out to HP to Discuss Your Large Format Printer Needs

So, how often should you replace your printer? These guidelines can help you determine if your printer's performance (not its age) means time is up. If you need a large format printer, talk to HP! Our expert salespeople can help you choose the right replacement (or new) large format printer for your business. Contact us to find out how we can help you with your large format printing needs.

Download our eBook now and discover how innovation is streamlining workflows, producing prints of unmatched quality and increasing IT efficiency like never before.

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