Five Reasons Why You Need An A3 Color-Laser Printer

WC-LogoWirth Consulting has found that there are basically five reasons that justify purchase of an A3 color-laser printer.

First, however, it’s important to look at ink-jet printers’ advantages over toner-based laser/LED-array printers.  When we evaluated five A3 color ink-jet printers in a Head2Head competitive report, we noted that ink-jet technology offers several technology advantages over toner-based laser/LED-array printers:

  • Durability of the Image – With ink-jet, the ink seeps into the media and the ink dries.  On the other hand, toner-based printers deposit layers of toner on the media;  heat and pressure from the printer’s fuser causes it to bond to the surface of the paper.   Consequently, ink images have superior scuff and cracking resistance.  This is particularly important when printing envelopes or producing covers for booklets and brochures, as these items are repeatedly handled, folded and unfolded.
  • Available Media Types – Like color laser/LED-array printers, ink-jet printers can print on virtually any office paper.  However, laser/LED-array printers are not as effective as ink-jet printers when printing onto special media such as envelopes, photo paper and fine-art papers.
  • Image Quality – The best color laser/LED-array printers cannot ultimately produce the image quality produced by four-color ink-jet printers, much less eight-color ink-jet printers.
  • Color Cost Per Page – Our last Head2Head Competitive Report showed that the Hewlett-Packard Business InkJet 2800 (narrowly edging out the HP OfficeJet K8600dtn) had the lowest color TCO that we’ve seen to date.

However, the maximum output potential of most ink-jet printers is hampered by limited “feeds and speeds” more than anything else.   Since our experience has shown that careless users are the most frequent contributors to printer downtime, one can only assume that the less users have to mess around with a printer by adding and changing media and supplies, the more uptime you will enjoy.

Following are five compelling reasons why you may want to consider an A3 color laser/LED-array printer instead of an A3 ink-jet printer.  All are related to maximizing printer uptime and office productivity:

Five Reasons Top Rated TCO A3 Color Ink-Jet Top Rated TCO A3 Color Laser/LED
1.  Maximum Color Print Speed Up to 35 ppm in draft mode, up to 14.5 ppm in normal mode, up to 4 ppm in best mode 35 ppm in normal mode.
Superior print speed results in better productivity and less waiting
2.  Duplex Print Speed Requires drying time for side 1 No drying time penalty results in better productivity and less waiting
3.  Max. Media Capacity 250 sheets Up to 3,150 sheets
reduces the frequency of adding media and minimizes downtime
4.  Media Sources One Up to three media sources including a 2,500-sheet high-capacity tray.
Users can print on more than one media size or type without having to adjust the main media source and disrupt the print queue
5.  Ink/Toner Capacity Black – 2,450 pages
Cyan – 1,700 pages
Magenta – 1,980 pages
Yellow- 1,540 pages
Black –  32,000 pages
Cyan –  25,000 pages
Magenta –  25,000 pages
Yellow-  25,000 pages
Higher-capacity consumables reduces the frequency of adding imaging supplies and minimizes downtime

Should I consider two or more A3 color ink-jet printers instead of one A3 color laser/LED-array printer?

In effect, the use of several ink-jet printers reduces the frequency of required user interactions per printer but not the actual number of user interactions required.  Nevertheless, the use of two printers versus one printer minimizes overall downtime in the long run, as users will find that there is always one printer available that can handle that last-minute print job.

On the downside, the use of ink-jet printers at very low volumes may actually contribute to downtime, due to the possibility that print heads and/or print nozzles will dry up and clog due to underuse.  Consequently, you should consider multiple ink-jet printers only if you can ensure a consistent page volume per printer so that each printer is used on a daily basis and does not sit idle.

Still not decided?  Do the math.

The following table compares the Color TCO (@ 20% area coverage) of a Top-Rated A3 ink-jet printer versus that of a Top-Rated A3 laser/LED-array printer:

Monthly Volume Color TCO
One Ink-Jet Printer
Color TCO
Two Ink-Jet Printers
Color TCO
Three Ink-Jet Printers
Color TCO
Four Ink-Jet Printers
Color TCO
Five Ink-Jet Printers
Color TCO
One Laser/LED Printer
100 pages $781 $1,180 $1,580 $1,979 $2,378 $4,912
500 pages $2,311 $2,709 $3,108 $3,507 $3,906 $6,374
1,000 pages $4,223 $4,620 $5,019 $5,418 $5,817 $8,000
2,000 pages $8,047 $8,446 $8,841 $9,240 $9,639 $11,251
3,000 pages $11,871 $12,264 $12,663 $13,062 $13,461 $14,502
4,000 pages $15,696 $16,086 $16,485 $16,884 $17,283 $17,753
5,000 pages $19,521 $19,908 $20,307 $20,706 $21,105 $21,004

The table above shows that the TCO of a single more-expensive A3 laser/LED-array color printer becomes lower than the TCO of five A3 ink-jet printers when producing a total volume of 5,000 pages per month (or 1,000 pages per month per each ink-jet printer).  Based on these findings, it seems that you better have a good excuse (see Reasons 1-5 above) to spring for that costly A3 color laser printer.

Happy Reading!
Terry Wirth

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