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Do you offer large format printing?

Question asked by Chris Axtell on May 5, 2016
Latest reply on Aug 14, 2016 by Kiseob(Mike) Son

Recently we began to look into the potential logistics associated with offering large format printing. We know that Pharos is capable to supporting these devices using area costing.


Looking through the recent posts regarding "To free print, or not to free print...", "How much do you charge per print? Do you offer free prints?" as well as "HP Pagewide XL" it appears that only Krystal Perlman with SUNY College Of Technology at Alfred has shared what pricing they charge ($0.0019 per sq. inch) for print jobs on large format devices.


Looking around the web at some commercial companies for some price comparisons they have pricing starting at around $5.50 - $6.00 per square foot ($0.038194 - $0.041662 per square inch).


Since we standardized on HP print devices we were interested in finding any HP documentation/references regarding cost of printing on these devices. Most of the published documentation by HP (HP Designjet CP Series Printers - The Estimated Cost Per Copy for the Imaging Inks and UV Inks, HP DesignJet ColorPro Printers - Estimating Cost Per Print) are quite old (circa January 1998 for the former and unknown for the latter) with cost estimate of between $0.001736 - $0.09188 per sq. inch depending upon model covering the cost of toner, and in some cases paper, with an image density of 40% and a coverage of 100% in "best" mode.


HP does offer a "HP Designjet Excel Accounting Report" that imports the actual job data from a device and can be used to calculate job costs, of course that doesn't help much if you're in the very early preliminary thought/business analysis stage and don't actually have a production device to pull the data from, and it only includes the cost of ink and toner in the cost calculations...


Some rough calculations with what information can be found concerning costs associated with hardware, extended warranty, life-cycle replacement, consumables, etc., seems to indicate the most expensive type (i.e. printing photos/full-coverage posters) of large format printing should run around $7.83 per square foot ($0.05437 per square inch) if most associated costs (i.e. paper, ink, consumables, life-cycle, etc.) are factored in. Which means that printing a 24"x36" file would run around $46.97. The same print job with ink & paper only runs around $37.75, or $0.04369 per square inch ($6.29 per square foot).


So what this long introduction is leading up to are the following questions:

  • Does your institution offer large format (e.g. "plotters") printing to students?
  • If so are the large format printers managed by your Pharos environment?
    • If not how are they managed?
  • What rate are patrons charged per square inch?
  • Does your price represent only consumables (i.e. paper & toner), or a more complete cost recovery (i.e. hardware life-cycle, maintenance, printheads, etc.)?
    • If it is a more complete cost recovery what specific elements (e.g. printhead's, maintenance cartridges, ink, paper, hardware, etc.) are included in your pricing?
  • How well has the large format pricing model been received by your institution's community?
  • How much are the devices actually used?
    • How is this measured (e.g. number of print jobs per month, number of square feet print per month, etc.)?
  • How may large format devices do you have deployed?
  • What unique characteristics are associated with your large format print service?
    • Is it self-service or do patrons "drop-off" their files for printing?
    • Is there a section of paper types (e.g. Premium Instant-dry Satin Photo paper, Translucent Bond Paper, Bright White, etc.) available?
      • If so how do you manage "changing" paper types between print jobs?
    • What is the expected turn-around/lead time?
    • Are there any restrictions on use?
    • Are the large-format printer(s) in a single "centralized" area, or spread out into locations that have programs (e.g. Engineering, Architectural, Graphics Arts) which may desire to use these types of devices?
  • Are there any other unique aspects, or lessons learned that you feel are worth sharing?


Have a great day,