Monday, December 27, 2010

Buyers’ Guide – Large Format Printer (Plotter)

One of the most frequently asked questions that come to me in daily basis is comparing the HP Designjet wide format printer with Canon imagePROGRAF large format printer.

Answering such questions over and over again has been quite frustrating. Hence, I started to post LFP products reviews and related applications at this Large Format Printer Blog. Whenever I received questions as such, I will refer them to this blog, or sometimes send them the direct link on the subject matter.

How to choose the right Large Format Printer/ Wide Format Printer?

One of the common mistakes made by the buyers is they are sourcing the alternative or replacement large format printer (LFP) based on the existing model of wide format printer at the office.

HP Designjet 4020

Let say HP Designjet T1100, 44-inch wide format printer is the existing LFP unit at the buyers’ office. Probably the buyer will ask questions like below while he or she is looking for a new printer:

“What is the equivalent model for HP Designjet T1100?”
 The buyer assumed that the HP Designjet T1100 is the right choice during the last purchase. He or she also assumed that the user requirements are the same for now as compared to 5 years ago.

“Please quote me a 44” large format printer model.”
The buyer thought that wide format printer is differentiate by its printable width alone. For CAD application, models at 44-inch printable width are HP Designjet T770, HP Designjet T770HD, HP Designjet T1200,  Canon iPF815, Canon iPF825. Normally 36-inch (A0 size) will be the maximum print width required for CAD drawing, the 44-inch LFP models will just take up extra foot print of the precious office space and add no value.

Unfortunately, such procurement procedure is not effective due to 2 reasons as below:
1.    The users’ requirements may have already changed since the purchase date of the existing LFP.
2.    If the decision of the earlier unit of LFP is not done proper in the past, and the new purchasing consideration is based on the said decision, it will just lead to another wrong buying.

User Requirements

Instead of specifications comparison or price analysis, buyers are recommended to go back to fundamentals of procurement which is detailed user requirements studies.

Mandatory information for large format printer selection:
1.    Print Volume per month (by size- A2, A1, A0)
2.    Maximum wide format document size (A0, A1)
3.    Workgroup size (The LFP will be shared by how many users?)
4.    Installation space (This is critical for offices at corporate towers where space is scarce)
5.    Types of media rolls (Plain Paper, Linen, Transparency, Etc)
6.    Etc (special remark from users)

With the above information, it will enable the sales consultants to propose the right large format printer model for the buyers’ consideration.
To ensure the proposed models are suitable, buyers need to ask questions focus on the result from the user requirements studies.

It will be meaningful to evaluate strength and weaknesses of  the shortlisted models such as cost per print, total cost of ownership and after sales technical support upon the buyers are cleared on the users expectations.

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