6 Replies Latest reply on Aug 14, 2016 6:06 PM by Kiseob(Mike) Son

    Do you offer large format printing?

    Chris Axtell Navigator

      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,


        • Re: Do you offer large format printing?
          Scott Olswold Guide


          Wide format cost models are kind of "all over the place" -- mostly due to the cost of, and yield from, the ink. When I managed an on-campus print shop, our average production volume on our wide format equipment (we had an HP DesignJet and a Canon imagePROGRAF) was 400 "Arch D" size sheets a month. If the workload was largely line-based (drawings, blueprints, etc.), we went through less ink than when the Fine Arts department had projects due, but on average, we went through 10 full ink sets a year (sometimes due to cartridge defect) per printer. On the HP, that amounted to $89/300 ml/pigment, or $534 a set; the Canon ran $79/150 ml/pigment, or $632 a set. So just in ink alone, we spent $11,660 a year...or $0.0028/sq in. Paper (assuming only matte paper, 40 lb weight, 36" x 200') was negligible (I calculated it to $0.000751 a square inch once, just as an academic exercise). I initially priced high; after factoring in my equipment costs -- including the Raster Image Processing (RIP) unit -- I calculated a $0.05/sq in pricing structure ($45 per Arch D). For awhile, I did well, but ran into pressure from outfits (mostly at flea markets) and dropped to $0.03 ... and still ran a very profitable affair.


          Because we were using a RIP that had excellent queuing, imposition, color manipulation, and file management properties, we ran it as a full-service operation. PDF (generated using our custom settings file) was the preferred delivery format, but we also took raw AutoCAD, QuarkXPress, InDesign, Photoshop PSD, JPEG, and PowerPoint files. Turnaround was generally within the day if they got in before 9am, or at the most 18 hours. We printed on regular bond, a thinner architectural stock, high-gloss, and we even moved to backlit stock towards the end of my tenure there. We handled stock changes well, mostly because the Canon could manage 3 rolls at a time, but our RIP (Onyx) allowed us to move jobs in the queue so that we could group "like" stock jobs together.


          And since we were full service, we didn't really have restrictions on use, nor did we "front end" with any cost management software. I made the Fine Arts folks sign waivers about copyright and trademark use because we didn't have any quick way to validate source or ownership most of the time.


          We tried creating a self-service function for the wide format devices (we brought in a smaller footprint Epson Stylus Pro), but there was so much associated waste (incorrect setups mostly) and so much time between repeat visits, that we scrapped it and sold the Epson to one of the flea market folks through the Classifieds.


          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Do you offer large format printing?
            Nic Meadows Ranger

            "Are there any other unique aspects, or lessons learned that you feel are worth sharing?"

            - We've installed and supported numerous Pharos systems utilising wide format devices over many years. In my personal experience we get the best results (both from an acurate charging and wastage perspective) from the HP and OCE/Canon devices using HPGL/2. Conversely Epson devices have given us the most problems.

            - The best operated systems from a customer standpoint are those that are selfe server and use held queues and release stations for the devices. Having end users print using Pharos Direct queues casues all sorts of additional headaches due to the length of time jobs take to render, spool and print.

            - When different paper types are required, generally customers will have a couple of devices fitted with those paper types so the users can print to the specific device that has the paper that they require and be charged accordingly rather than have to change the paper rolls themselves.

            - Most of our wide format installations take place in departments that have a dedicated support resource (not just for printing) that allows them to help train users and ensure that printjobs are configured/setup correctly BEFORE the users send them to print, they are also on hand to replace rolls and inks when they run out.

            - We've used both types of Pharos charging (Paper size, Attribute charging and Area costing) as well as custom scripts for area costing and specific output paper types. Which one we'd recommend would depend upon the general output types expected. But if you have a mixture of area charging and paper sizes across devices, it can be difficult to calculate your charges so that the equivalent paper sizes are charged the same when charged through area costing.


            Best regards


            • Re: Do you offer large format printing?
              Yadin Flammer Navigator

              We have use Pharos to control our student chargeback printing for going on a decade I believe.  How time flies.  It has always been 24/7 self serve.  Students can load their own paper if they want (there are instructions posted as well as an example video on our support site, even though the printer leads you through the process pretty clearly), or use the paper we stock.  The prices reflect supplies and 4 year maintenance and replacement cost of the devices.  As paper is the cheapest part of that cost, we don't worry about the discrepancy for those using their own paper vs ours any more than the fact that some jobs are 100% coverage and others are line drawing.  It's all averaged for these reasons.  We have 10 large format HP Designjets of various models (don't use Epson, we're finding they are highly problematic with Uniprint).  Current price (just increased for the first time in years) is .0052 per square inch.  We do around 90k in chargeback annually, the bulk of which is the large format devices (presentations in Architecture and so forth).  I could run reports of # of jobs, pages, etc in addition to cost, and we do that to evaluate which models are the most used to determine new ones for replacement.  Biggest lesson learned is that a lot of college students apparently can't read or find information unless you put it in their face.  But as we are in the business of teaching, that's part of the game.  On the whole we've had far less issues with the Designjets than laser printers.  Every now and then someone puts overhead transparency in a laser printer and melts it in the fuser.  We've never had a break incident like that on a plotter, at worst they don't get the quality print they expected, like using a normal Mylar not meant for printing so the ink doesn't really stick or dry and kinda runs and smears (usually on them when they grab it).  Anyone going really far with material tends to ask.  Coolest was one that wanted to try printing on untreated course canvas.  Actually worked really well, fun effect.

              • Re: Do you offer large format printing?
                Karl Owens Newbie

                Hi Chris,


                We have a fully managed print service to students. We found the self-service model led to much confusion and in-efficiency. During peak demand, the service completely melted down under self-service. I'll refer you to a paper I wrote for SIGUCCS (http://www.siguccs.org/index.shtml) a few years ago and you are welcome to visit our website.


                Since we are a managed service we do not use Pharos for large-format printing.


                Conjuring funding for services



                A&AA Output Room | School of Architecture and Allied Arts



                Karl Owens

                Technology Services Coordinator • A&AA Output Room Manager

                University of Oregon • School of Architecture and Allied Arts

                Email: karlo@uoregon.edu • Phone: (541) 346-0576

                • Re: Do you offer large format printing?
                  Krystal Perlman Wayfarer

                  Hi Chris Axtell, Sorry for being super late to respond to this but we are currently going through some serious changes when it comes to print so I wanted to make sure I had all my ducks in a row!


                  So we began piloting Pharos with our large format devices on the Alfred State campus because it was a small and controlled environment with a lot of material waste and a smaller set of more technical students that utilized it. Well... it worked out great and we saved tons of supplies, 5 years and several stages of implementation... this fall ALL student facing printers will be contained within Pharos. 


                  Anyway, back to large format... We currently have 5 HP DesignJets of various models some with scanners some without, we have one Xerox plotter with attached scanner for high capacity black and white line drawings (this setup also has the ability to make lots of copies, very quickly), and an Oce Colorwave 620. All but two of these devices are in our "Plotter Room" which is proctored by Engineering work study students.  This provides them good relevant experience and we have student employees that are invested in learning about the equipment since it is something they may use in the real world. As far as pro's and con's for each:

                  HP's - These are cheaper in comparison to the Oce/Canon and Xerox models and seem to have far less mechanical issues.  Their supplies are also cheaper! for what our students are doing we have several models to offer them different quality images/applications. These were also super easy to set up with Pharos.

                  Oce ColorWave 620 - This gets a thumbs down from me all around... it was EXPENSIVE and has had a ton of mechanical issues.  We had some issues getting it to work with Pharos and not throw a fit for each print job.  We also do not have the ability to charge by paper type which makes coming up with a pricing scheme super difficult since there is such a huge difference in price per roll of the various kinds of paper Canon offers. The price point is also is a roadblock to have two for redundancy. One thing it does great (when it is working) is printing fast! However, this is both a pro and con because all of the students gravitate to it all the time even though it is not the best option for what most of them are creating.

                  Xerox -  This plotter is OLD (8+years)! It was reasonable when we bought it and it just keeps kicking.  It did not give us much a fuss to add to Pharos and our cost of ownership is pretty low since we have a contract that includes supplies and all it does is print B&W line drawings on bond.  The instructors love to use this to make copies of elevations and building plans to distribute to their classes.


                  Since you mentioned me in this thread we have been approved to revise our pricing structure! Woohoo! $0.00019 was just not cutting it! We now have a pricing structure that is set by printer and I have designated different printers for different purposes and the student employees will only load the corresponding supplies.  For example our photo plotter will only be loaded with Photo Paper, Fine Art Paper, or Canvas and will be a little more pricey per square inch then something like the Xerox which only does B&W line drawings on bond. This is a way better structure for several reasons :

                  1- Students will now be using the appropriate materials to take advantage of what the plotter is capable of (or not capable of).

                  2- It's super clear to students the different purposes of the different plotters.

                  3- We are able to charge more accurately for supplies being used.

                  4- We are not paying for students to use our most expensive to operate plotters to print elevations and blueprints.


                  Our new pricing structure will range from $.003 - $0.006 per square inch which s still rather reasonable.  To come up with these numbers I figured out the cost per sq inch for all of our different paper types and created groups of them, then decided which types would be used in each printer and use the usage history to figure out that average amount of ink or toner per print and add that to the average paper cost, then rounded up to the nearest 0.000, that cost would the be assigned to that device.  We did not factor in the cost of the devices and I pay for maintenance out of my supply budget without much strain at the moment, if that changes in the future we may consider adding a little padding for maintenance.  At this time our goal is just to make the supply costs self sustaining.


                  The paper types we offer are:

                  Bond - light and heavy weight

                  HP Bright White Paper

                  Photo paper

                  Matte Litho-Realistic fine art paper

                  Polypropylene paper ( Soft Banner)


                  Several kinds of transparent film (We do not widely advertise these, they are more for institutional use due to price point)

                  Tyvek (We do not widely advertise this, they are more for institutional use due to price point)

                  Canvas (usually purchased by the interior design department for their students) 


                  These locations are used rather heavily throughout the semester by all of our engineering and design students. The students all format and submit their jobs on their own or they can ask the proctor for assistance.  The proctors are responsible for changing and managing supplies along with dealing with any issues that arise with the Plotters.


                  Please let me know if I can provide any other info!

                  • Re: Do you offer large format printing?
                    Kiseob(Mike) Son Scout



                    At UIC, we offer large format plotter printing with 36" role of paper.

                    We are running 8 HP T7100 plotters & 3 HP Z3x00 Plotters

                    Only 1 type of paper offered to print, so we don't have separate price for different paper type.


                    All of plotters are controlled by Pharos and we allow print from both Windows & OS X

                    We are charging $0.0081/sq. inches

                    Students can print from their own laptop through Popup client or print from workstations in print lab.

                    After submit the print job, students need to login at release stations to pay & print jobs.

                    Every semester, those plotters are making $40K or more, so I will say plotters are very popular service at UIC.


                    Since I work for computer center, who manage the printing infrastructure, pricing details are unknown.
                    (College of Architecture & Graphic Design make the decision on pricing.)

                    Recently, College of Engineering proposed to install HP plotters in their lab.

                    So we are expanding fleets little by little.

                    Currently, I am working on Canon iPF785 plotters to add in our Pharos system, but seems like OS X doesn't work with Pharos.


                    if you have more questions, let us know.