Professional Printer Needed

Posted on 2008-06-20
Last Modified: 2013-11-05
I need a professional printer that can print gorgeous photos, but that can also print really nice brochures.  I do photography a little bit, and a client of mine has TONS of brochures.

Here are some of the brochure sizes:

11x17 (folds in half to 8.5 x 11 front and back)
11x22.5" (tri-fold to three 8.5 x 11 sheets! front and back)

And all kinds of folds with 8.5" x 11 and 11x17 -- trifolds, dual folds, etc.

So my question is what professional printer can handle printing this kind of thing?  Needs to print borderless.  And how do folks usually handle printing & folding stuff like this at a small office?  Any advice would be SO helpful!  
Question by:rowejd
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LVL 12

Assisted Solution

alikaz3 earned 150 total points
ID: 21833343
I would say use photo paper on an inkjet for photos, as for brochures, a color laser would be best. The photos can be printed on a color laser, but not on photo paper. They will have a glossy look, but definitely won't feel like a photograph. I'd say get yourself a cheaper good deal on a photo printer, and get a full featured color laser copier that can handle those sizes, for your client.

Ok now I realize there is another large concern. 11x22.5 is not a standard size by any means. I would consider that a "oversize format". This can easily bring the costs of the printer up 300% (actual printer cost, plus cost to operate). Even 11x17 is huge, and only higher end copiers will be able to accommodate that...

These are all inkjets:

13x19 - $419.99
Canon Pixma Pro9000 Professional Large Format Inkjet Printer

12" x 12" - $499.98
Epson R1900 Large Format Photo Printer

24 x 64 inches - 1,225.32
HP DesignJet 130 Large Format Printer

The last one is the cheapest model I can find to print 11x22.5"... But I would estimate that printing on DesignJet 130 being VERY costly. I don't think your client wants to pay $3-5 + per printout...

If I was in your situation, I would try to talk your client into being fine with 11x17. You will have a lot better success in finding a good printer model with that standard tabloid size. If your client is printing a large volume of these brochures, you would want to get a full copier, such as this:

These copiers take A3 (12 1/4" × 18") and Tabloid paper as the largest sizes. With one of those, you probably don't want to buy it ($10,000+), but rather contact a copier company, and lease one through them.

I know you were probably looking for an easier fix than this, but unfortunately the larger sizes of paper really cut down your options.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 21833355
>>>>>The photos can be printed on a color laser, but not on photo paper.

I was unclear, what I meant by this was color lasers cannot print on photo paper. They can only print on copier-class laser paper, and through laser printing they will have a "glossy" feel, but nothing like an actual photograph or inkjet-photo-paper printed image.
LVL 12

Author Comment

ID: 21833375
So if I wanted to go ahead and limit us to 11x17 and go for a laser, forgetting the photo prints for now, but still good quality brochures able to be printed on glossy paper...what would you suggest?
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 21833418
Really depends on the volume. If you print 20 a month, just get the best deal that works. If you are printing 1000 a month, you need a copier. Look around locally for a copier supply company that leases machines. Usually the company will install, service, and set you up with replacement toner. I believe the last one I set up was around $450 a month, for the bells-and-whistles model. What kind of volume is your client producing?
LVL 110

Accepted Solution

Ray Paseur earned 350 total points
ID: 21833543
I have three Epson printers: 2400, 3800 and 9800.  They all use the same kind of ink and they make competition-quality prints.  If you have one dimension no greater than 11" you can use the 2400 - it goes up to 13" wide.  But based on my ink consumption, I'd expect that you would be better off to pay the extra $1,000 and get the 3800.  Its ink costs will be MUCH lower in the long run.  It goes up to 17" wide and (I think) 34" long.  Standard Epson paper is available at 17"x22" (not 22.5") but longer paper is available for it.

For brochure layout and proofing, we use the 2400 and 3800, but when it comes to production we send PDF files to a local printer who prints, folds, etc.

And as long as I have your attention, I'll add that I never use anything but Epson ink and Epson paper (OK, I use Museo Silver Rag for black-and-white) because the profiles make these work perfectly.

Good luck, ~Ray
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 21833637

very good Ray, I didn't see that model. I would say that would be a good candidate for lower volume.

The suggestion about having a printer company print productions copies is good too.
LVL 110

Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 21833961
@Alikaz3 - yep, that's my printer.  And it costs a lot less now than when I bought it!  It is perfect for low-volume jobs like a few posters, occasional office printing, etc.  It is also perfect for fine-art printing.  But if you want 250 flyers, make them up in PDF files, print to test on the 3800, then put the PDF on a thumb drive and head for your nearest Kinkos!

For big printing jobs we have a standing contract with a custom printer.  For the little jobs, any of the print-pack-and-ship places is OK.  For large volume photographic reproduction it's hard to beat Costco.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-)

LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 21834172
Sounds pretty true-to-life. I guess I'll cover the other issue here, photo printing.

You have to decide if you want a standard format (8.5x11) photo quality printer, or a 4x6 photo-printer. Here's a few good models:

Epson PictureMate Dash PM 260 Compact Photo Inkjet Printer
Canon Pixma mini320 Compact Photo Inkjet Printer
- Both of these models look excellent

Canon Pixma MP610 Photo All-On-One Inkjet Printer
$112 on sale +rebate
Canon Pixma iP4500 Photo Inkjet Printer
Epson Stylus Photo R280 Photo Printer

-I'd go through all of these, weigh out options, read reviews :D
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 21834176
Those are most of the bestselling inkjets on Amazon BTW
LVL 110

Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 21839173
@Alikaz3: Those are good suggestions.  My requirements include being able to profile the monitor and printer so the images I see on the screen are color-faithful representations or the images I see on the printed output (one of my clients uses my photos of wood to produce color brochures for interior decorators).  I have paid more for my printers and I have bought and used the profiling gear to be certain of accurate color representation.  It's a workflow issue for me.  If I want a picture of my kid playing baseball, I can shoot JPG files and get a photo everyone will love.  But if I want catalog-quality color accuracy, the profiling part of the workflow is critical, and that led me in the direction of the Epson K3 inks.  ~Ray

Expert Comment

ID: 21844556
A lot of menus we create go to this company, pricing is keen and professional.  I don't bother with small printers these days, not worth it and normally looks a little tacky.

We also have a copier, Xerox are very hard to beat on small run production, very hard indeed.
LVL 12

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31469227
Awesome info!  Thanks guys.

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