The classic monochrome laser business printer continues to sell surprisingly well, but the best printer for your business might be inkjet, laser, LED, or solid-ink; and it might be a multifunction or single-function model.
How do you decide which technology and function level are best for your business? How much can you afford to spend? Take time to think about what you print, how much you print, and whether you need extra features or room to grow. Remember to check the cost of consumables to make sure your ongoing costs will be bearable.
The Cheapest Printer for the Job
Of course, you don’t want to spend more than you can afford. But before you commit to buying the cheapest printer you can find, let’s examine what “cheap” really means, and why the cheapest printer may not be the most affordable printer.
The business model used by most printer vendors works like this: The lower the initial price tag of the printer, the higher the cost of replacement ink or toner. As a result, the only person likely to benefit from a low-cost printer with high-cost consumables is someone who prints very little, and thus stretches out the time between replacements as long as possible. Unless you are among the sparsely printing few, you would do well to check a printer's ink or toner costs before you buy, to avoid budget-busting surprises later. For a how-to, consult this guide to doing the math to determine ink and toner costs.
Inkjet, Laser, LED, Solid Ink...They're All Good (or Better)
Choosing a machine for its underlying technology is less problematic than it used to be, as differences in speed and output quality have narrowed. If you normally print plain text-letters, spreadsheets, documentation-with nothing more graphic than a simple logo or a few straight lines, a monochrome laser or LED printer should suit you just fine. The consumables for these printers tend to be the cheapest around, too. See our Top 10 Monochrome Laser Printers chart for a ranked list of our top-rated models.
Color laser or LED printers may seem like the natural evolutionary step forward from monochrome models, but the transition is happening slowly. One major reason is that color printers cost more to buy and resupply; as a result, businesses must manage access to color printing to avoid overuse or misuse. Another significant factor is photo quality: Most laser and LED printers struggle to print smooth-looking images. Check out our current favorites on our Top 10 Color Laser Printers chart.
Limited Edition Prints
Over the last year or so Art Business News has had some very good articles on producing and publishing limited editions and on copyrights for artists. If you are represented and published by a gallery, publisher or agent, pay close attention to exactly what is published and how it is numbered. For example, if your agreement is an edition of 250, and they produce and sell 100 additional "artists proofs" of the same image, it could compromise your reputation and integrity. In setting an edition limit, consider if you want to market the same image in different sizes and materials. And ensure any agreement you enter provides for a regular inventory report to you on what's been published and sold