Questions To Ask Before Purchasing a Production Printer

By: Marco
June 24, 2024

Does your organization need to produce a lot of printed materials? If you do a significant amount of print marketing or you’re an educational institution, the answer is undoubtedly yes. Considering how much your current printing supplies cost and how much those costs keep going up, you might be considering other ways to increase efficiency and lower your monthly expenses.

One of the best ways to accomplish both is to invest in a printer that’s not only up to the task — it’s designed for it.

What Is a Production Printer? 

A production printer, also known as a digital press, is designed to handle high-volume jobs. There are three main types of digital presses; a brief overview of each should help you narrow down your search! 


Types of Digital Presses

1. Laser 

A laser printer uses a dry powder — called toner — instead of liquid ink. The toner is made of extremely small particles that are applied to paper using heat and pressure. 

Why go laser? Laser printers produce very sharp, high-quality printed documents and text. This makes them great for printing materials like marketing brochures or other important papers where you want a crisp, professional look.

2. Inkjet

An inkjet digital press is basically a far more advanced, far more powerful version of the printer you probably have at home. But instead of using small ink cartridges, the digital press version will have large ink reservoirs, and the ink itself is designed to be more durable and vibrant. 

Why go inkjet? For starters, they can be cheaper than laser models and still produce a high volume of printed materials very quickly. But the ink can smear if it gets wet, and your final product won’t be quite as vibrant. If you frequently need to produce long-lasting marketing materials or posters, an inkjet is probably not the best fit.

3. Lithographic

In a traditional lithographic (litho) press, an image is transferred from printing plates onto a rubber blanket cylinder, which then prints the image onto paper — or some other material. The digital version simplifies the first part of that process by transferring digital files directly onto an imaging cylinder or plate using laser imaging technology. 

Why go litho? You can print on a wider variety of surfaces, and the longer the print runs, the more cost-effective a litho will be. But you probably shouldn’t invest in one unless you’ll be printing large quantities of booklets or catalogs. The setup takes longer, and you’ll also need special skills to operate it properly. 

What Print Production Equipment Does Your Business Already Have?

If you don’t need to produce high-quality graphics often, and you already have a relatively new printer that can accomplish that task nicely, you might not need a production printer that specializes in images. 

Save Money by Reducing Overlapping Features 

Generally speaking, the more features you need in one device, the more expensive that device will be. A thorough assessment of your current printing capabilities might save you a great deal of money and help you avoid redundancy.

Consider the Lifespan of Your Existing Equipment

If you discover that any of your printers are over seven years old, that’s also critical information that should factor into your search. Outdated printers can cost your organization quite a lot of money in supplies, maintenance, and energy and can put your data at risk. Even if that printer is operating normally, you’ll need to replace it soon. If you’re going to be adding a new printer anyway, it’s helpful to know what capabilities your old device had so you can include those features in your next one!

Does Your Workspace Have Any Limitations To Keep in Mind?

Production printers have special needs! Before you buy, make sure you consider: 

  • The size of the printer itself, including trays
  • How much additional space is needed around it
  • Any special amp lines they require
  • The total number of outlets needed (including peripherals) 

What Kind of High-Volume Printing Is Needed?

Production printers aren’t cheap, but deciding on a production printer solely based on price can be an ROI killer. Use the checklist below to indicate must-haves or nice-to-haves now and in the future, and use the “don’t need” column to help you save money on features you already have covered or that won’t help you grow your business. 


Your answers to these questions can help shape your conversation with a production print specialist, and it might also help them suggest certain brands over others. For example, not all brands are known for their reliability, and if your print environment will only include one production printer, that can be the deciding factor. 

Does that last bit have you worried about cost? Don’t get too worried about sticker shock…yet. 

Insider tip: Because some providers have strategic partnerships with reputable manufacturers, you can get a different price on the same production printer, depending on who you buy from. You also might get an entirely different long-term experience. 

But back to the topic at hand…

What Commercial Printing Brands Are Known for Reliability?

Our go-to recommendations for production printing or wide format equipment are Konica Minolta and HP. 

Konica Minolta 

Konica Minolta production printing equipment may look — on the outside — like many other brands. But inside, its durable construction is known for maximizing uptime, even in busy environments. It also tends to keep a number of different departments happy when it comes to image quality, sharp text, speed, flexibility, and ease of use. 


Is that the only brand we ever recommend for production printing? No, but since our success depends on making our customers happy in the long run, we tend to recommend products that will do that. 


If you have special wide-format printing needs, HP latex printers are known for being dependable and relatively easy to maintain. HP’s latex inks are also completely odorless, non-flammable, and contain roughly 70% water.  

And if you’re wondering whether or not we have strategic partnerships with both of these manufacturers, the answer is yes! 

Hold on…that’s not why we’re recommending them. It’s actually the other way around. When we see brands that, time and time again, stand out as industry leaders, we reach out to form strategic partnerships with them so we can provide our customers with better service and better pricing. 

What Will Your Provider Bring to the Table?

Once you find the right production printer for you, make sure you know whether your provider will offer: 

  • End-user training — at installation and as needed
  • Insider pricing
  • Responsive service
  • Real-world production printing expertise
  • A large inventory of OEM parts
  • Proactive maintenance to avoid downtime

Your provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) should spell out precisely what they’re responsible for. And remember, these are often negotiable! 

Insider tip: We included real-world production printing expertise on our list because while these machines are technologically advanced, we’ve discovered that someone who’s spent a lot of time in professional print shops will know some productivity and maintenance hacks that manufacturers don’t, and you won’t find in any manual.  

What Should Be Outlined in a Service Level Agreement?


Your agreement should contain clear information so you’ll know exactly what to expect and you won’t be caught off guard. Before you sign anything, make sure your SLA spells out the following:

  • The availability of service technicians and their level of expertise
  • How service calls are handled and how quickly services are typically completed
  • Your provider’s guaranteed response time
  • The availability of necessary repair parts
  • Your provider’s policy on using genuine repair parts vs. OEM parts

How To Make Your Next Steps Easy

If conducting a detailed print assessment, assessing your workplace’s constraints, and researching manufacturers and providers sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. It’s definitely doable, but depending on your areas of expertise, it might not be the most efficient use of your time. 

You’re always welcome to chat with a member of our production print team, but since you’ve read this far, we’d also like to invite you to visit our production print showroom. If you’ll be in the Minneapolis area, click the link below to get on our schedule! 

Visit Print Production Demo Facility at Minnetonka

Topics: Copiers & Printers