Pricing and Costs of Commercial Printers

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Apr 22, 2020
Image Credit: A_stockphoto/ Shutterstock

Here's what you should consider when buying or leasing a commercial printer.

There are lots of choices when it comes to commercial printers for business printing.

Almost all businesses will want some kind of business printer, but many companies will choose to outsource some of their items to a company that provides business printing services. Other companies may produce such a quantity of documents that it's worth the cost to purchase or lease a large high-speed digital printer or production printer.

When making your budget, consider the costs of maintenance, supplies, your own paper and staff time and training as well as the price of the machine. Costs of running each type of printer generally increase with the initial cost of the machine.

Should you buy, lease, or outsource?

If your business requires a high end printer, you’ll need to decide whether to buy, lease or simply outsource your printing jobs. If you only need occasional high-end printing, like banners or signs, outsourcing is likely the best option.

However, if you plan to do a lot of printing, or it's a major part of your business model, you need an in-house printer. Besides whether you can afford the initial investment, you need to consider if you will need to upgrade the printer in the future.

Many leasing options allow you to upgrade your printer after your lease is up. Some lease options also allow you to own the printer at the end of the lease. Leasing will cost more over time if you want to eventually own the printer. However, if you prefer to upgrade every year or two, continually leasing may be the best option. 

Digital vs. offset printing

Digital printing is the most common today, however, offset printing is best for certain situations. Digital printing is ideal for small print jobs. The color palette is limited with digital printing, however, it offers features, including color correction and previewing. These can increase the accuracy of your printing. Digital printing has a quick turnaround time, making it the best choice for on-demand printing.

Offset printing becomes economical for large jobs that include 2,000 copies or more. Offset printing requires production of printing plates. This is initially time consuming and expensive. However, the copies themselves cost less with offset printing. This is why offset printing can make sense for large projects.

It’s often used for fine art printing because more color variations may be used. However, digital printing can now be done using archival ink and substrates, making it a reasonable choice for fine art printing as well. Offset printing also allows for embossing, die cutting and foil stamping.

Types of specialty printers

Latex printers are ideal for packaging, signs, and window and vehicle graphics. It also allows printing on unique surfaces, including glass and wood.

Fine art printers allow you to print extremely high-quality images. They are perfect for art prints, CAD drawings and advertising materials. They can print on photography paper, thick poster board and roll paper.

Fabric printers are designed for printing on fabric. They can be used to create custom tapestries and apparel.

Label and stamp printers are used by many businesses. They are relatively inexpensive. They are ideal for printing barcodes, labels, stamps and other types of small printing jobs. 

Solid ink printers use wax sticks instead of ink cartridges. They require a warm up and cool down after printing. However, they can produce bright and detailed images that rival the quality of offset printing. The finish is glossy due to the wax.

Types of commercial printers

There are several levels of pricing and costs of commercial printers:

  1. Business printers and multifunction printers can cost under $100, but printers made for high-volume quantities can cost several thousand dollars.

  2. Digital presses can range from $5,000 to almost $200,000.

  3. Advanced copiers and production printers range from $20,000 to $200,000.

Small business printers

When it comes to business printing, a medium-sized printer is a good choice for a small business or one workgroup in a larger business. One of these printers will cost anywhere from $50 to $8,000. Evaluate your use of color to decide whether you need a color printer and choose a laser printer for economical printing.

These printers can be either inkjet or laser depending on your needs and preferences. Generally, inkjet printers will print higher quality photos, and laser jet printers will print clearer text. Printers for business use or usually designed for text printing, and most home printers are designed for photo printing. Even printers that are designed for both purposes usually lean toward one or the other.

Commercial digital printers

Digital presses are high-speed, high-quality, high-resolution digital printers, available in both color and black and white models. These are large machines with price tags varying from $5,000 to almost $200,000, so you might consider leasing as an option. Consult the commercial printer manufacturer for exact specifications on speed and resolution, as well as suggested machines for the number of pages you print in a month.

These printers are designed to accommodate a wide range of media. They deliver exceptional speed and accuracy. Some models offer task splitting, transactional printing, high capacity stacking and booklet making.

Large commercial printers

Commercial printing firms or large companies that produce their own documents might want to use production printers. These high-speed printers have advanced functions and many choices for finishing options, such as collating and binding and job-queue management capabilities. In addition to the investment of $20,000 to $200,000, this type of printer will require its own room and at least one staff person to run it.

The type of commercial printer that’s right for your business will depend on your printing needs. Large commercial printers are often used by companies where printing is an integral part of their business. 

When considering the cost of commercial printers for sale, keep in mind the price of supplies, especially ink and toner as well as staff and staff training.

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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