Printer Buying Guide: Technology Checklist

Your guide to choosing the best printing hardware and services for your small or medium business

LED print head technology

Light-emitting diode (LED) is an electrophotographic technology in which aligned arrays of LEDs are used to expose the print drum. In some printers, the LED is used as the printing head. The LED print head structure is simply formed with the LED array, driver integrated circuit, printed circuit board and rod lens array. Using LED print head technology, printers can be made smaller for lower cost and with noise free operation. The density of the LED array determines the print resolution, and the LED array quantity determines the printing speed. Users are already able to choose LED printers/MFPs. Gartner says to consider LED printers/MFPs for a small color print device. For users with production printers, Gartner says consider devices with LED print head technology when physical size and print quality are important decision criteria. Providers include Brother, Casio, Dell, Fujitsu, Kyocera and Oki Data.

Pagewide-Array office inkjet printing

Pagewide array printers (PWA) feature a fixed inkjet print head that spans the full width of the paper path. As paper passes beneath the print head, the full width of the paper is imaged in one operation. This allows pages to be imaged at a much higher speed than in conventional inkjet printers, which move the print head back and forth across the width of the paper. PWA printers can match the printing speeds and monthly volume of laser printers. Providers include HP, Lenovo and LG.

3D printing

3D fabricating technologies have been available since the late 1980s and have primarily been used in the field of prototyping for industrial design. More recently, the 3D printing quality has increased, and printer and supply costs have decreased to a level that broadens the appeal of 3D printing to a wider range of businesses. Gartner says this technology is ideal for educational institutions for use in engineering, architectural courses and the creative arts. Providers of this technology include 3D Systems, HP and Z Corp.

Printer Fleet Management Suites

Printer fleet management suites embrace all the functions needed to actively manage the entire office printer fleet. These suites may follow either a traditional software business model or a cloud approach and include identification and tracking, policy administration, network management interface, status monitoring, chargeback and pull printing. Gartner advises buyers to match their printer fleet management decisions to their overall printing strategy. These suites are usually used in large organisations with more than 1,000 employees but they are expanding into midsize firms with 500 to 999 staff as well. They help organisations exercise better control over their printing and reduce spending by up to 30 per cent. Vendors in this space include Canon, HP, IBM, Ricoh and Xerox.

Erasable Paper Printing Systems

An erasable paper printing system prints information on either treated or plain paper with the capacity to erase the information from the paper, or for the information to disappear from the paper after a certain period, allowing the paper to be reused quickly, simply and often. Economical and environmental pressure on printing and paper consumption has reignited interest in less-wasteful paper printing solutions. Gartner said this technology is still a far way off from widespread use but is definitely worth monitoring as it has the potential to significantly reduce paper consumption.

Tomorrow: Printer Buying Guide -- Shopping Checklist

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