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    December 18, 2023

    Is It Time to Invest in a Wide Format Printer for Your AEC Business?

    Maybe you are just starting your AEC business or perhaps you’re a vetted pro — but now you’re considering a change. Is it time to buy a Wide Format Printer for your office? You’re likely wondering if that’s an expense you should avoid or if you’d benefit from printing your own wide-format documents, blueprints, and proofs in house.

    Keep reading to find out more about AEC printers and if getting a wide format machine could be the right move for your office.

    Enviro-HP DesignJet T1600-01_Crop

    Do I Need a Wide Format Printer?

    A Wide Format Printer is a specialized printing device designed to produce large-format documents, such as architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, construction plans, and posters. 

    Unlike standard printers, Wide Format Printers are capable of handling paper rolls or sheets with widths ranging from 18 inches to several feet, allowing them to print expansive designs and detailed technical drawings with exceptional precision. These devices utilize advanced inkjet or toner-based technologies to generate high-quality, detailed, and color-accurate prints on various media types, including bond paper, vellum, or even specialized substrates for outdoor applications.

    For architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) companies, wide format printers play a pivotal role. They handle colossal rolls of paper, transforming digital formats into tangible, wide-format documents showcasing intricate designs, detailed floor plans, or vibrant visions.

    Modern Wide Format Printers have gotten easier to use and more cost-effective than older wide format printers. 

    AEC professionals often get to a point where they consider handling their wide format printing in house. If you are wondering if you need a Wide Format Printer, you can ask these questions:

    • Do I have quick, one-off wide-format prints that I need to make?
    • Would in-house printing improve my design or proofing process?
    • Could I save money over time by printing everything on my own?
    • Would I benefit from more control over my print outcomes?
    • Do we have a high volume of print requests from various jobs?

    Download the Bluprint to Understand All of UBEO's AEC Solutions!

    Is Buying a Wide Format Printer Worth It? 

    Most investment purchases come down to a cost-benefits analysis. The question becomes: could an AEC printer save you time and money while helping you improve client relationships? Let’s consider the long-term value of a Wide Format Printer and other benefits of printing in house.

    The ROI on Your Wide Format Printer

    Businesses make the move to in-house printing because they’ve done the math and believe it provides a solid return on investment (ROI). Reports estimate businesses save 46% when they switch to print large format printing in house. 


    How Much Does a Wide Format Printer Cost?

    There are a few key factors that will significantly alter the cost of your wide format printer. Before you can truly determine expected ROI, you will need to pinpoint your pricing options.

    • Machine: The cost of the machine varies greatly depending on quality, output speed, volume capabilities, brand, and additional features. You want to work with a wide format print expert who can help you get a machine that is the right fit for your needs—not too little or too much.
    • Accessories and Software: Once you've got your printer, there might be some extra spends like software or additional equipment. But these costs are generally way friendlier on your wallet than those never-ending outsourcing bills.
    • Ink and Paper: Ink and paper costs add another factor, including the size of paper rolls you use. Your goal should be to keep supplies on hand while minimizing waste as much as possible to help make each dollar count.
    • Maintenance and Operating Costs: Yep, there are ongoing expenses to keep your printer working smoothly and prolong its lifespan. But guess what? With UBEO, these expenses can be predictable and manageable, ensuring your budget stays intact as long as you plan accordingly.
    Upfront AEC Printer Investment vs. Outsourcing

    Sure, there's an initial cost that comes with owning a quality AEC printer. To determine the ROI, you’ll have to compare the overall expense to what you'd spend on outsourced printing over the years. Spoiler alert: owning your own printer often comes out on top financially.

    To find the ROI on your Wide Format Printer, you will have to calculate the overall cost of each print and compare that to what you pay your printer. The real question is: How long will it take before the initial investment evens out to where you are saving money on each print?

    But don’t stop there. While you are likely to save money on large format printing costs with the right machine over time, there are additional values beyond budget that you’ll want to factor in.

    Additional Benefits of In-House Printing

    Convenience and Agility: Printing whatever you want whenever you need to makes it so much easier for your team to stay productive. An in-office wide format printer makes it possible to share large documents or print examples without any delay.

    Print Control: When you control the machine, you can control the output. Would you like to print in color? Do you need two different sizes? Printing in house makes it easy to get what you need or pivot your project without a middleman involved.

    Vendor/Partner Collaboration: As you work with other firms, you’ll find it’s much easier to print isolated pages for markups or share client sign-offs with a device that can handle scanning and printing your blueprints, plans or mockups.

    Client Experience: Many images today are shared digitally, but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever need physical copies. Sometimes a large, sleek, professional printout is exactly what you need to help bring a vision to life for your clients. An in-house printer can make it easier to respond quickly and impress key stakeholders.

    How To Choose the Right WFP for Your Needs

    The right WFP can transform your projects and elevate your business. But where do you start? Here are four importantWhich Wide Format Printer is Right for Me? elements for a successful buying process:

    1. Find an Expert You Can Trust

    Partner with a provider who's more than just a vendor — someone who understands your unique needs, gets the industry, and knows the intricate differences that sets wide format printers apart. Not all wide format printer vendors offer the same level of service, and you don’t want to end up investing in a printer that is a poor fit. Look for a partner who listens, asks the right questions about your projects, and tailors solutions accordingly.

    2. Consider Your Unique Setup and Print Needs

    Your projects are unique, so your WFP should be too. Discuss features like print speed, resolution, and media handling. Ensure it integrates seamlessly with your existing systems. A reliable provider will guide you through these specifics and help you ask all the right questions.

    3. Clearly Define Pricing Options

    Costs go beyond the sticker price. Consider the total cost of ownership, including ink, maintenance, and potential downtime. A trustworthy provider will break down these costs clearly, ensuring you understand the financial commitment — and the expected ROI.

    4. Choose a Partner That Provides Ongoing Support

    Have you ever made a major purchase — only to get ghosted afterward when you had a question or issue? After-purchase support is vital. Opt for a provider with renowned post-sales service. From troubleshooting to regular maintenance, having a reliable support system ensures your WFP operates at its best, always.

    You don’t have to wade through the WFP listings and specs on your own. UBEO has a solid team of experienced print professionals who can help you find the right device, at the right price point, to print your large-format projects.

    By partnering with a provider who walks beside you every step of the way, you're not just buying a printer; you're investing in a streamlined, efficient, and successful future for your AEC projects. If you’re ready to take the next step, contact our team for a quote today.


    Tag(s): wide format

    Tyler Hill

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