Why and When to Upgrade Your Old Printer

Ah… your trusty old printer. When it’s not jammed, it’s out of toner—it’s that reliable. Or maybe I’m just cynical.

Frankly, printers are amazing machines. When you think about the intricate processes, all the technical and computing innovations, that were required to print out your report it’s quite something.

But, man oh man, is it frustrating when you’re opening panels, pulling out yet another twisted and ruined sheet. Then you leave a sliver of paper on the roller. Then the next sheet gets stuck to it. Then you have to open the panels again.

You ask yourself: Is it time to upgrade my printer?

Handpress
Handpress

When Should I Replace My Printer?

The biggest question to consider when thinking about upgrading your printer is this:

Does it cost more to repair my printer or to replace it?

This is a complicated question. If you repair your printer today but in a year it simply won’t work no matter what, it would probably have been better to get a new one. You can see: we’re talking about total cost of ownership (TCO).

TCO is notoriously tough to calculate. After all, we can’t predict the future, and TCO demands that we act on what we think is going to happen. TCO also demands that you take into account a large variety of factors.

We’re going to go over a number of these factors, starting with estimating maintenance costs.

Maintenance

How do you estimate maintenance costs? It’s tough, but you can estimate it to a certain extent.

The primary cost associated with maintaining a printer come from consumables: paper, toner, ink. Thus, if you can reduce the number of consumables that you use, you’ll save money. If your old printer is wasteful, making you use more consumables than you should be using, you can save a lot of money in the long run by upgrading to a more efficient and reliable printer.

Cost per page (CPP). By comparing how much money you spend on printing with your current printer with the CPPs provided by manufacturers, you’ll be able to plot how much or how little you will save by upgrading your printer.

Manufacturers typically provide CPP for their models. If not, you’ll need two pieces of information:

1. The price of your ink or toner cartridge

2. How many pages you print on average before replacing the cartridge.

By dividing the first number by the second, you get your CPP. CPP is thus a very useful statistic that’s easy to determine. If your CPP is, in your opinion, unacceptably high compared to the CPP of newer models, you should consider upgrading your printer.

Obviously, you don’t only spend money on consumables. There’s also support services, such as repairs.

Repairs. Repairs are almost impossible to predict, unfortunately. You do know some things. If your printer is older, it’s probably more likely to break down. Parts from older machines might be out of stock or expensive to obtain. If you haven’t been cleaning your printer regularly, it’s more likely to fail. In fact, one thing to consider instead of upgrading your printer is to maintain it regularly.

Managed services. One way to save on maintenance costs is to have someone come and check on your printer on a regular basis. For example, TriTech offers printer maintenance contracts, according to which our authorized technicians will keep your printer running as well as it can.

In other words, you’re paying a little to save a lot. How much easier is it to clean a bathtub once a week instead of letting a ring of calcified residue, old soap and mildew develop then trying to put it right in a rush? This is the idea behind managed services. By using managed services you can extend the lifespan of your printer. You’ll also keep the quality of your print jobs as high as your printer will handle.


HP Laser Printer
HP Laser Printer

Quality

When you’re looking at what your printer spits out and you think, once again, “This should be better,” it’s time to go shopping. When you see, for example, the vast improvements in color laser printing technology, it’s hard not to get a bit jealous.

And, frankly, if the quality of your printer is no longer professional, you should consider upgrading your printer. Your enterprise needs to present itself in the best possible light that you can afford. It’s very common advice for job-seekers that they should never print their resumes out from an inkjet. The bleeding of the ink makes letters blurry. The crisp letters that a laser printer makes look so much better.

Laser v Inkjet. This is one of those classic questions: should I get an inkjet or a laser printer? Here’s the common answer:

• Pictures. If you print out a lot of pictures, get an inkjet.

• Text. If you print out mostly text, get a laser.

If you have an old inkjet and you’re buying cartridge after cartridge, you’re wasting money. Although a laser printer and its cartridges are more expensive individually, the cartridges last much longer. Besides, laser printers are generally quicker than inkjet printers. You’ll save a lot of time that you were spending waiting. And time is your most precious resource.

Other Considerations

When considering when to upgrade your printer, here are some other common features to keep in mind.

Multifunction printer (MFP). If your office still has a separate photocopier, scanner, fax machine and printer, it could be time to unify them. A multifunction printer (MFP) is your machine. They are very popular nowadays. They save space, they save headache.

Printing queue. If you find that there’s always a backlog of print-jobs in your office and that your printer handles them poorly, either with lost jobs or massive delays, you should look to replacing your printer with one that has the memory and power to organize the multiple print-jobs.

Remember: time is your most precious resource. Articles on stress reduction in offices emphasize the little things that make workers happy. If you can improve your office atmosphere by upgrading your printer, why would you not do it?

Duplex printing. One of the best ways to save money on paper and reduce your consumption is to integrate duplex printing into your everyday printing environment. If your current printer doesn’t print on both sides of the paper, you should look into one that does. Duplex printing is becoming a standard feature for enterprise-grade printers because of its environmental and economical advantages.

WiFi. With bring your own device (BYOD) culture on the rise, your office should strongly consider getting a printer with wireless capability. Wireless access will allow your employees to print from whatever device they use, whether that’s smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop.

Lexmark Inkjet Printer
Lexmark Inkjet Printer

TriTech’s Printer Consultation Services

If you’re considering upgrading your printer, TriTech offers consultation services. Give us a call at (262) 717-0037 or toll-free at (800) 891-3388 or write us at service at tritechcoa dot com. Our technicians are authorized by the major printer manufacturers and can help you choose the best path forward.

TriTech Is Bringing 3D Printing to Milwaukee

We here at TriTech are very excited to tell you that we’re partnering with 3D Systems (3DS) to bring 3D printing to the Milwaukee metropolitan area. We’re building on our decades of expertise with printers of all types. We’re now authorized resellers of the 3DS Cube 3 and 3DS CubePro.

3D printing is still an under-used and under-appreciated technology, even though it’s been gaining in popularity over the past half-decade.

It’s not just for the hobbyists and the big companies anymore.

3D printing is an integral part of the future of business.

3D Systems Cube 3 printer
3D Systems Cube 3 printer

3D Printing

3D printers make objects from digital files. It’s like having a printer that automatically builds in real life what you draw on a blueprint.

3D printing was first developed in the 1980s, when companies like 3D Systems built the first machines and wrote the file formats that enabled objects to be printed. It’s been used extensively in manufacturing for quite some time—it’s an excellent way to make prototypes—and now it’s moving into the home market.

It’s quite different from the forms of printing that we use everyday, like inkjet or laser printing. The biggest difference, of course, is that 3D printing builds up as it prints, a process they call additive manufacturing.

Additive Manufacturing

3D printers lay down layer after layer of material to create objects. Because they are adding layers, the process is called additive manufacturing.

There are a few methods that are used to lay down material. Among the most widely used are:

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). A laser fuses powders into the desired 3D shape.
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), or Plastic Jet Printing (PJP). Different names for layers of melted material being squeezed out according to the desired pattern.
  • Stereolithography (SLA). A laser traces a pattern over liquid resin, hardening layers of resin as it goes along.



The 3DS Cube 3 and 3DS CubePro work by Plastic Jet Printing.

One of the most revolutionary aspects of 3D printing is that you can use a wide variety of materials in the printing process, not just ink or toner.

3D printers are not limited in what materials can be used. It seems like every week there’s a new story about some amazing material. For example, researchers at Wake Forest University recently printed beating heart cells! You can print edible materials, you can print glass, you can print all kinds of materials.

Most commonly, 3D printers use thermoplastics, plastics that become pliable when they’re heated. Some of these plastics are good enough that selling what you print has become a viable option.

3D Systems CubePro printer
3D Systems CubePro printer

The Future of 3D Printing

The most exciting quality about 3D printing is that it’s a technology whose uses are still being discovered.

By moving into 3D printing, TriTech is continuing to lead the way when it comes to Milwaukee-area printing technology. We’re always learning, always expanding our capabilities, to bring incomparable IT services to our local community. Our philosophy is that integrating business technology support saves customers time and headache.

Just like 3D printing saves time and headache for prototyping and a widely expanding realm of other applications.

Give us a call at (262) 717-0037 to learn more about our 3D printing support.