Toner vs Ink Jet GuideHow to Determine the Best Wide-Format PrintingTechnology for Your CompanyFree GuideWhite Paper

Wide-format printing is changingIntroductionIf you work in AEC - architecture, engineering, or construction, then you know the wayyou handle construction drawings has changed significantly over the years.In the past, plans were printed and distributed by print shops to subcontractors for bid sets.Now, more and more, plans are shared as electronic files through email or online plan rooms.And, another aspect that has changed, is the increasing integration of color information intoconstruction documents.Therefore, subcontractors need an efficient way to print their plans for themselves instead ofrelying on outside resources.From here, AEC oriented companies typically begin their search for a new wide-formatsystem. So, which technology makes the most sense, ink jet or toner?This guide will analyze some data to determine which printing technology provides the mostcost-effective solution to meet your needs. But, be advised, just because a technology shows alower cost of operation, does not mean that it is the best fit for your company’s needs anddemands. Other factors should be considered as well, such as size, ease-of-use, and officefriendliness.It is important to note that many of the wide-format systems available today are multifunctionsystems—printers bundled with onboard scanners. This article has been updated to reflectthat change. This allows for a fair comparison between the two types of printing technologiesthat are the most sought after and used in AEC today.TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide2

Invest in the Right Technology for the JobBefore you caneffectively determinewhat type of plotterwould suit you best,you need to analyzeall your wide formatrequirements.Too often, buyers only have one criterion—to buy the leastexpensive plotter available. While this position is certainlyunderstandable, it doesn’t mean that it is the best businessdecision.The truth is, sometimes when you purchase a plotter based onthe lowest price, it can ultimately cost you more in the longrun. Printers, small format and large format alike, aredesigned to function within a certain volume parameter. Onceyou exceed the limits of that parameter, the maintenance andusage costs will exceed the expense of a bigger system.Therefore, careful analysis of your company’s estimated printvolume is crucial. If you expect to have mid-to-high volumeneeds, choosing the correct technology for the application ismandatory.Durability is another factor to consider. Regardless ofmanufacturer, ink jet plotters are generally designed for athree-year duty cycle.Toner-systems and the newer single-pass ink jet units, on theother hand, are expected to last for many years. In fact, Océsystems tend to perform reliably for seven to ten years,typically. A solid platform like that could easily outlive two orthree ink jet units. Plus, toner systems are much more capableof handling higher volumes and have faster outputs than theirink jet counterparts. There are instances where toner-basedsystems are used to print as much as 50,000 square feet permonth.TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide3

True Costs of Wide-Format PrintingTraditional Ink Jet Plotters—the least expensive option regarding the initial hardware price, butthey are dependent on ink and other consumables, such as print heads and maintenance kits(cleaners). These supplies tend to be expensive for higher-volume environments. Ink jets are alsoconstructed mostly of plastic, so they are not as durable as toner-based machines that are typicallyconstructed of metal.Also, all ink jet plotters manufactured today are full color machines, so the ink costs of a full inkset is a factor. So, if your needs are only monochrome, you will have no choice but to work with afull-color machine in order to print black line sheets.It is important to note that these dynamics are applicable to all ink jet products, such as the CanonimagePROGRAF series as sold by TAVCO as well as other brands.If you consider all the usage elements (paper, ink, and print heads), the resulting cost formonochrome ink jet printing averages 0.203 per square foot at 3,000 square feet permonth.Expect this price to increase significantly for color output.This is the figure that we will use in our comparison charts.How the 0.203 cost per square foot was calculated:4 0.033—Cost of ink per square foot 0.034—Cost of 20-pound ink jet paper per square foot 0.013—Cost of ink jet print head per square foot 0.002—Cost of maintenance cassette per square foot 0.082—Cost of onsite parts & labor service and support (Contract) 0.203—Total cost per square footTAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide4

LED Toner Plotters—these units are more expensive than ink jets regarding the initial hardwareprice, but under the right conditions, they can easily justify the difference through speed andproductivity. Again, this is a baseline cost for units utilizing this type of technology, such as OcéWide-Format Printing Systems.If you consider all the usage elements (paper, toner, developer, and service), the resultingcost for monochrome toner printing averages 0.116 per square foot at 3,000 square feetper month.How the 0.116 cost per square foot was calculated: Based on TAVCO’s proprietary all-inclusive service plan, the total cost of operation iscalculated at 0.116 per square foot at 3,000 feet per month. Interestingly, if the monthly volume doubles, the cost per foot drops as volume increases.For instance, at 6,000 square feet per month the cost drops to 0.10 per square foot. 5And, at 10,000 square feet per month, the operational cost is 0.095 per square foot.TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide5

Toner vs Ink Jet Cost ComparisonThis wide-format analysis is based on the comparison of a Canon iPF785 MFP and an OcéPlotWave 345 MFP. Both of which are configured as two roll systems complete with scanner andsystem controller.Both units are sold and supported by TAVCO Services, Inc.The Long Term (5 years)This scenario explores the total cost of operation over a long-term, 5-year period. Althoughinkjet printers are typically rated for a 3-4 year life, some users will tend to keep the units longer.Given that, this is how the two technologies compare after 5 years of ownership.Inkjet TechnologyToner LED TechnologyHardware costs to acquire equipmentCost of MFP (printer and scanner) 8,995.00Cost of MFP (printer and scanner) 14,500.00Usage costs - paper and other consumablesPrinting costs per square foot 0.203*average costs for service, ink, & paper via TAVCO PP PLUSPrinting cost per square foot 0.116*average costs for service, toner, & paper via TAVCO All-in-One PlanTotal costs of operation - includes equipment and suppliesTotal print cost per monthTotal operational print cost per yearTotal cost of ownership over 5 years 609.00 7,308.00 45,535.00Total print cost per monthTotal operational print cost per yearTotal cost of ownership over 5 years 348.00 4,176.00 35,380.00This is a true "apples to apples" cost comparison between ink jet and toner based printing technologies. For this comparison, aCanon iPF MFP System is set against an Oce Plotwave 345. Both are configured as a 2-roll MFP with printer, scanner, and systemcontroller. The print demand is based on an average baseline of 25 plots per day (3,000 square feet per month). The price levelused for both units is an estimated "street price". Actual Price will vary, however, the differences between the two should remainconsistent with this comparison.Results: Although the initial cost of the toner machine is higher, the ink jet cost much more tooperate. Another important thing to point out is that, as the print volume increases, the squarefoot cost of operation of the toner system decreases. Typically, toner-type plotters willexperience monthly demands over 5,000 square feet per month. This will certainly lend favor tothe toner technology.With current ink jet technologies, two D-size pages per minute is the most to expect from anyink jet plotter. On the other hand, certain toner units can delivery over ten pages a minute. Thisequates to a 400% speed increase.6TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide6

Analysis – Long Term Toner vs Ink Jet*The X-Axis of the scale reflects the total number of square feet printed over thelifetime of the product.FindingsAfter reviewing the total operating costs between the two printing technologies, it is evident thatthe toner plotter ultimately cost less over the lifetime of the printer. According to the chart, at100,000 square feet, the toner plotter achieves its return on investment (ROI) over the ink jetsystem. If you consider a typical monthly print volume of 3,000 square feet per month, the tonersystem’s ROI happens in 33 months.Plotting in Color – A Growing NeedTraditionally, CAD and construction drawings have been sparse, 2D monochrome images thatcover approximately 5% of the page. If your company still relies on those types of drawings,then a monochrome printer may work just fine for you.However, advancements in technology are redefining the way firms approach the design-buildprocess. BIM workflows through Revit and Navisworks is changing the way people work inAEC. With BIM, the entire project can be built virtually from beginning to end.With all this new data injected into the workflow, color printing is becoming vital for bettercommunication. So, if you use BIM in your workflows, a color plotter would be a good asset forprinting color data.7TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide7

New Single Pass Ink Jet TechnologiesOver the past couple of years, significant advancements propelled a new ink jet technology ontothe scene. Single pass ink jet technology is known by a couple of names, Memjet and HPPageWide, but, the concept is the same.Unlike traditional ink jet machines, that use a reciprocating print head, single pass machinesutilize a stationary print head that jet droplets of ink onto a traveling print media. Memjet refersto this as “Waterfall Technology.”Single pass technology is certainly impressive to watch since it is capable of printing atblistering speeds—up to 16 D-size sheets per minute. Another attribute to this type of printing isa lower operating cost than traditional ink jet or toner systems, but there are some limitations tokeep in mind.Limitations Single Pass ink jet Systems 8They are large – Most high-speed ink jet systems are designed to be commercial printersand are not good fit for traditional office environments. Likewise, their excessive mass canmake them difficult to install, particularly when it comes to navigating doors, tight turns,and standard elevators.They are heavy – Generally, single pass printers weigh more than 1,000 pounds. This canbe challenging for office environment that do not have concrete or reinforced floors.Speed may not be necessary – Most AEC offices today average 3,500 square feet permonth of printing demand. Overall, this number has come down over the years ascompanies digitize some of their workflow and utilize their large format printers for morecolor-centric duties. This lower monthly demand negates the need to print plans faster.Ink jet Process – Despite the fast output, the drawings are subject to the standardlimitations and weaknesses of ink jet prints—drying time might be an issue when largercolor areas or full-color sheets are produced.TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide8

Color Toner Wide-Format SystemsIn addition to single pass inkjets, full-color toner plotters are another option when heavy dutycolor printing is needed. Both, Kip America and Canon Solutions America offer solutions intothis segment, but they are drastically different from one another.Kip’s 800 Series are designed similarly to standard color laser printers. They utilize a dry-tonerxerographic process, using a standard drum and fusion method.Canon Solutions America offers the innovative ColorWave system that uses a patented processcalled CrystalPoint technology. This method utilizes solid Toner Pearls that get melted into agelled state and then jetted on the media like an inkjet printer. The difference is, however, thatthis toner instantly crystalizes on the surface of the media, rather than soaking into the medialike inkjet (both traditional and highspeed).9TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide9

Color Toner vs Single Pass Comparison*The X-Axis of the scale reflects the total number of square feet printed over thelifetime of the product.FindingsAfter reviewing the total operating costs between the two printing technologies, it is evident thatthe single-pass inkjet ultimately cost less over the lifetime of the printer, albeit marginally.According to the chart, at 80,000 square feet, the overall cost of both systems is equal. But,considering the special requirements mandated for a high-speed single pass inkjet, the nominaldifference could easily justify the decision to get a color toner unit.10TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide10

SummaryThe analytics show that it is crucial to do the proper planning and to accurately forecast yourprint volume needs. Simply looking for the least expensive solution can sometimes leave youpaying more in the end—much more! Here are some key takeaways:11 Operating costs for ink jet plotters average 0.203 per square foot (2D CAD lineprints) but these units are slower and are consumable intensive. Operating costs for LED toner plotters average 0.116 per square foot at lowervolumes, but drop to around 0.10 at mid-volume levels. Color toner plotters cost about 0.139 per square to operate, but they are incrediblypowerful systems that can replace the workload of multiple ink jets High-speed, single pass inkjets cost about 0.113 per square foot to operate, but havesome considerable limitations regarding installation environments. They are large,heavy, commercial machines not generally suited for standard office environments. Ink jet plotters and MFPs are a great choice for entry level systems. Toner plotters and single pass inkjets are much more durable than traditional ink jetsand can yield a much great ROI over the lifetime of the product.TAVCO Toner vs Ink Jet Guide11

For more information on wide-format technology solutions,Contact a TAVCO Wide-Format AdvisorInformation on Océ Wide Format SystemsInformation on Canon iPF Color Ink Jet Plotters and MFPsVisit: http://www.tavco.netTAVCO Services, Inc.PO Box 15985Austin, TX [email protected] Toner vs Ink Jet Guide12

How the 0.203 cost per square foot was calculated: 0.033—Cost of ink per square foot 0.034—Cost of 20-pound ink jet paper per square foot 0.013—Cost of ink jet print head per square foot 0.002—Cost of maintenance cassette per square foot 0.082—Cost of onsite parts & labor service and support (Contract) 0 .