Printer Recommendations for a small creative business

bakedbean

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Hello! I'm looking for a specific kind of printer and I'm hoping the lovely people on this forum can help me :)

I run a small business selling greetings cards, stickers and prints. I currently print my cards using a Canon Pixma iP8750 which does the job very well, however I can't currently use it for A4 art prints as I've found it leaves black marks on the edges of them! I assume this is because I've only used this printer for my greetings cards before which are sized 6 x 12 inches, leaving a ink buildup on the rollers - it's about a year old now and last Christmas was a bit mad - it could probably do with some maintenance. But anyway, with Christmas fast approaching, I was considering purchasing a new printer anyway, maybe something higher quality which can handle a larger volume of printing, and also produce some nice A4 art prints which is something I'm looking into making more of.

I currently print about 100 - 200 cards a week, which can go up to 500 a week during busier periods like Christmas.

So, these are my requirements:
- Has to be able to print on 300gsm card
- Has to be high quality printing / photo level for my art prints and card designs
- Can be A4, doesn't have to be A3

Now I've been looking at the Canon Pro series of printers, the 100, 100S and 200 specifically, which look amazing and a lot of people recommend for artists. The initial cost isn't an issue for me as it looks like an amazing printer for the money, but it's the ink cost that's my main problem. At the moment I can buy a set of 24 inks (I use knockoff ones from eBay, not official ones to keep costs down!) for around £17. For one set of offbrand Pro inks it's about £19.
So I wanted to know - do the Pro inks tend to last longer? Is the cost of the Pro inks worth paying extra for? The iP8750 still prints my cards out in a high enough quality to not be an issue, however I can't currently get hold of a new iP8750 at a decent price anyway (although saying that I can't currently get hold of a Pro 100 or 100S either!). Will the Pro last longer than a iP8750 printing at a large volume? I assume that the Pro is better built as it's more of a professional printer rather than a home office one. Is there a cheaper option for ink for the Pro printers? It doesn't have to be as cheap as the current off brand inks I buy as I don't mind purchasing better quality inks if it makes the printer itself last longer, I just don't want to pay Canon's prices!

I was also considering an eco tank printer. I like the idea of it being more eco friendly - less plastic being used is important to me - and the ink costs being lower. However I would need an ecotank that would still produce high quality prints, and from what I understand this can be difficult because there's less colours compared to the six ink iP8750. If anyone knows of a decent ecotank printer that would be suitable for art prints and can also handle 300gsm card, please feel free to recommend!

I know laser printers are better for ink however I'm struggling to find a laser printer that can handle 300gsm card.

If anyone can recommend a decent printer for a small business like mine, I'm looking to consider all options and I'd really appreciate any feedback :) I'm just unsure whether to stick with my current printer due to the low ink costs, or try something new. Thanks so much!
 

Ink stained Fingers

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You may have a look to the Epson ET-8500 as an A4 printer or the ET-8550 as an A3+ printer, you can find a detailed test report here by @Keith Cooper

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/2021/08/05/epson-et-8550-printer-review/

There is more to the Ecotank printers than just saving some plastic - you can run longer printjobs without
interruption for empty cartridges and you get high performing OEM inks at a budget price . Epson may call this printer L8160 in some business regions - the name can vary. Canon has a kind of somewhat similar Megatank printer - the G650 (or 620 in some regions) but I'm not familiar whether it can handle your type of papers and formats reliably. I wouldn't recommend to use any 3rd party/off brand inks for your type of business - such inks fade (up to 20x faster) than OEM inks, and you can get the best inks for a budget price with these Eco/Mega-tank printers.
 
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bakedbean

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You may have a look to the Epson ET-8500 as an A4 printer or the ET-8550 as an A3+ printer, you can find a detailed test report here by @Keith Cooper

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/2021/08/05/epson-et-8550-printer-review/

There is more to the Ecotank printers than just saving some plastic - you can run longer printjobs without
interruption for empty cartridges and you get high performing OEM inks at a budget price . Epson may call this printer L8160 in some business regions - the name can vary. Canon has a kind of somewhat similar Megatank printer - the G650 (or 620 in some regions) but I'm not familiar whether it can handle your type of papers and formats reliably. I wouldn't recommend to use any 3rd party/off brand inks for your type of business - such inks fade (up to 20x faster) than OEM inks, and you can get the best inks for a budget price with these Eco/Mega-tank printers.
Hi, thanks so much for your reply! I've had a look at the ET-8500 and ET-8550, they honestly sound amazing! I just wanted to ask if you think an EP-8500 would be alright to print the amount of cards I do (100-200 a week) and, if I used official ink as well, how many years do you think it'd last before it'd need replacing? At the moment my Canons last about 2-3 years before they start needing replacing as the quality goes down. My iP8750 from last year - the print quality has deteriorated a little bit, but it did get quite a hammering at Christmas and I've had more sales than ever this year! Still fine for my cards but if the EP-8500 is a better quality printer that's going to last a number of years with better quality printing, I'd be tempted :) Just trying to justify the cost of the £600 printer over the £230 one!
 

Artur5

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I wouldn’t call Epson Ecotank (or Canon megatank ) high quality photo printers, if compared to Pro series on Canon or P600/700/800/900 for Epson.
Ecotanks are more like multifunction machines with very good, albeit not great, photo capabilities. In fact many general purpose printers. even those with only 4 colors, are able to perform very well in this regard, but they’re not a real match for dedicated photo printers. Also they’re far below the Pro photo machines in duty work, average reliability and lifespan.

@inkstained fingers, possibly I’m wrong, but I believed that the inks used by Canon and Epson in these printers was clearly inferior, as longevity goes, to their premium stuff for cartridge based printers. Also, Ecotanks use 4 or 5 dye inks and one pigment ink for text. I don’t know the requirements of the OP about longevity but if this is a concern, I’d stay with ‘all pigment’ printers.

Megantank/Ecotanks models have a strong selling point based on the much lower cost of the ink and for being free form pesky chips, which make difficult or impossible the use of compatible ink but, alas, there’s no free lunch. Let’s not forget that the manufacturers make you pay in advance for the future savings in ink.
Look at the prices. For instance, the new Maxify megatanks from Canon, They charge 400 or 500 euros more than the equivalent Maxify model with cartridges. If you’re refilling, it makes absolutely no sense to pay this extra money when you can purchase third party ink or Canon OEM bottles to refill your old Maxify MB.
I’m not familiar with Epson’s range. Maybe it’s different from Canon, cost wise.

IMHO, before committing to one of new enticing tank printers it would be advisable for everybody to do a little math work, to see if the future savings in ink compensates the huge premium price paid in advance for the machine.
 
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bakedbean

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I wouldn’t call Epson Ecotank (or Canon megatank ) high quality photo printers, if compared to Pro series on Canon or P600/700/800/900 for Epson.
Ecotanks are more like multifunction machines with very good, albeit not great, photo capabilities. In fact many general purpose printers. even those with only 4 colors, are able to perform very well in this regard, but they’re not a real match for dedicated photo printers. Also they’re far below the Pro photo machines in duty work, average reliability and lifespan.

@inkstained fingers, possibly I’m wrong, but I believed that the inks used by Canon and Epson in these printers was clearly inferior, as longevity goes, to their premium stuff for cartridge based printers. Also, Ecotanks use 4 or 5 dye inks and one pigment ink for text. I don’t know the requirements of the OP about longevity but if this is a concern, I’d stay with ‘all pigment’ printers.

Megantank/Ecotanks models have a strong selling point based on the much lower cost of the ink and for being free form pesky chips, which make difficult or impossible the use of compatible ink but, alas, there’s no free lunch. Let’s not forget that the manufacturers make you pay in advance for the future savings in ink.
Look at the prices. For instance, the new Maxify megatanks from Canon, They charge 400 or 500 euros more than the equivalent Maxify model with cartridges. If you’re refilling, it makes absolutely no sense to pay this extra money when you can purchase third party ink or Canon OEM bottles to refill your old Maxify MB.
I’m not familiar with Epson’s range. Maybe it’s different from Canon, cost wise.

IMHO, before committing to one of new enticing tank printers it would be advisable for everybody to do a little math work, to see if the future savings in ink compensates the huge premium price paid in advance for the machine.
Hi, thanks so much for your reply! :) That's interesting to know - truthfully, I'm unsure of the printing quality I need for my greetings cards. I know the Canon Pixma iP8750 which I currently use is specified as a photo printer, although more of a hobbyist/amateur photographer rather than a professional printer like the Pro series I think? My greetings cards have quite bright and colourful designs but they haven't got masses of detail like a photo - I guess my art style is between realism and cartoony, probably leaning more toward cartoon really, so I wouldn't need a printer that gets every last detail, just that gives a decent print. Having clear text is important though as I use text on all of my greetings cards. That being said, I do really love the professional aspect of the Canon Pro printers - you mentioned the reliability and lifespan of them which is something I do worry about with my current printers, I just don't know if I'm overworking them with the amount of printing I do especially on cardstock!

As much as I do love the look of the Pro-200 (which is the only one I can currently buy online out of the pro series), the ink costs do worry me. At the moment I can buy 84ml of off-brand ink for my iP8750 for £17. In comparison, I'm unable to buy off-brand ink for a Pro 200, and the full set of official inks is £120 for 136ml.
Now I know off-brand ink isn't the best for printers, so if you can convince me that buying the official inks for the cost is worth it in terms of helping the printer last longer, printing quality and how the inks don't fade then I might be tempted! I have noticed that official inks (such as the ink that came with my iP8750, although I think they might have been... not full ink cartridges? like test ones which come with the printer?) they do last a lot longer than the off-brand ones I currently use. So do official inks generally last longer in terms of being able to print more compared to off-brand ones?

I'm not sure if the overall costs balance out in terms of how long a Pro-200 printer can last compared to an iP8750 with the amount I print. At the moment I can buy a iP8750 for £230, and probably replace it every 2 years. I'm not sure how long the ink cartridges I buy last, but they do seem to last quite a while still - I maybe change them every 2 weeks? This is from printing 10-20 cards a day 6 days a week. If a Pro-200 at £477 can last more than 4 years printing everyday, hopefully a lot longer if that's possible, then it'd stop me from having to buy a new iP8750 every 2 years - but then there's also the ink costs too as I mentioned above!

In terms of how long the print lasts before it fades - this is something I'm interested in. My greetings cards are all personalised which means a lot of them can be kept as special keepsakes - although most of them probably will be kept in a box, or on a windowsill for a week before they get chucked out. I do want to get more into creating A4 art prints though, specifically for children, which means the longevity would be important here if the print is sitting framed on a wall constantly in the light. It'd be nice if the prints would last for a few years without fading (they don't have to last 300 years + though like a lot of inks specify as I don't think they'd be around for that long!).
 

Ink stained Fingers

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@inkstained fingers, possibly I’m wrong, but I believed that the inks used by Canon and Epson in these printers was clearly inferior, as longevity goes, to their premium stuff for cartridge based printers. Also, Ecotanks use 4 or 5 dye inks and one pigment ink for text.
@bakedbean is currently using an IP8750 which uses 6 inks Chromalife 100 - incl. a gray ink, the ET-8550 uses the same type of inkset - Epson 114 ; @maximilian59 and I hae tested the longevity of dye inks in great detail over the first half of this year which you apparently followed - the Epson 106, 114, Canon Chromalife 100 and 100+ of the Pro 200 are in a group of high performing dye inks in regards to longevity and perform very similarly. No 3rd party ink does reach this performance - you don't know what you'll get purchasing such inks in 3rd party cartridges or for refill - you may get 30% longevity performance or as low as 3 - 5% compared to OEM inks.

little math work,
Bottled Epson 114 inks run at 12,50€ for 70ml each - x6 for the complete inkset 75€,

CLI551 inks for the IP8750 run at 13.50€ x 6 - about 80€ for a complete cartridge set with about 11ml per cartridge which makes about 6x80€ = 480€ for about the same amount of inks with an ET8550.
I'm not calculating any prices for 3rd party consumables since I don't consider their usage advisable in this case.

I'm not sure to see that any particular 'photo capabilities' are required in this case whatever they may be and go beyond the capabilities of an IP8750 or ET-8550 , both the G650 or the ET-8550 come with a user replaceable waste ink bin.
 

maximilian59

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I am pretty sure that it doesn’t matter for greeting cards whether you have four, five, six or even more inks. It is extremely hard to distinguish prints from each other made on the different printers in a small format on the same paper. They may look different, but which one is the right one?
Coming to refill. It is a big difference in handling, whether you have to refill a ink cartridge with a syringe or just open a bottle, place it on the tank and you are done for the most. You do it once or twice a year without getting colored fingers. Your inks don’t get old compared to by bigger bottles with bulk ink and printing quality stays the same.
You also don’t have to bother about how long the prints can last. Even after months I found no considerable fading with original inks and papers.
In a business you have to calculate you hourly rate. Each time refilling is lost time and you can’t print. The same counts for changing cartridges.
Cheers,
Maximilian
 

The Hat

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I currently print my cards using a Canon Pixma iP8750 which does the job very well, however I can't currently use it for A4 art prints as I've found it leaves black marks on the edges of them! I assume this is because I've only used this printer for my greetings cards before which are sized 6 x 12 inches, leaving a ink buildup on the rollers
All of these different printers mentioned will end up in the same soggy mess long before they mechanically breakdown, regardless of which one the OP purchases, borderless printing is no good for any inkjet printer..
 

springermichelleend

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I took a look at your suggestions, and I think that I will also change the printer. Mine is much older, I think about 5-6 years old, and I use it daily, especially since I have started my business. In order to get known, I have also created my site by myself, it was difficult in the beginning, but I managed to build it. For me was difficult to create the design, but I took some inspiration from some real estate agent websites and I exceeded my expectations. I print a lot of documents daily, so I think that a second printer is necessary.

It is really useful in my project.
 
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The Hat

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It is really useful in my project.
Print with a border gives you much better quality and a few minutes spent trimming the edges results in the same finish without compromising your printer..
trimmer.JPG click to enlarge..
 
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