When Is It Time to Upgrade Your Printer?

Michael Clementi

The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate your business goals and ensure that you have the right equipment to help you reach those objectives. With all the new printers and different technologies available today, we asked in-house printer expert Michael Clementi to weigh in on how to tell if it’s time to replace your old printer.

Q: What are the most common ways to tell if your printer is aging?

A: For aqueous piezo technology (like Epson or Roland), you’ll experience vertical banding running the length of the print, errors that you cannot navigate past or an increase in the number of cleanings needed to produce a healthy nozzle check. For aqueous thermal user-replaceable printheads (such as Canon or HP), you may see hardware errors on the machine. You can call a LexJet representative to help determine what may be causing the error; however, if you need service, it would be best to contact the printer manufacturer for quotes or troubleshooting. Some hardware-related issues indicate the need for a head replacement – not uncommon for thermal printers – but errors related to what I call the “drive train” of the printer (i.e.: belts, head/carriage motors and internal electrical components) might be reparable, but the difference in cost of repair vs. upgrading to the latest technology might be almost negligible.

Q: Are there any repairs that are worth the cost rather than buying a new printer?

A: If it is an older Epson or Roland that needs a full printhead replacement (which are not user-replaceable and can cost more than $600 for just the parts, not including labor), it makes more sense to use those funds towards a new printer. With a new model, you will have better ink usage, print more profitable jobs, work with current technology and have a printer that is covered under warranty. New technology has allowed for increase in output and a significant decrease in the footprint of the printer. New printers will also be more efficient and will offer a wider color gamut than older models. If your current printer is several generations old, it may be difficult finding parts for the repair due to the manufacturers halting production of older parts (as they call, “end of life”).

Q: What kind of lifespan can I expect to get from a printer?

A: The average lifespan for aqueous machines is three to five years, depending on the technology, frequency of use and how well it is maintained. Solvent and latex printers can be in the six- to eight-year range, again depending upon use and maintenance.

Q: When is it a wiser investment to upgrade rather than repair?

If You Print, Expect Glitches with the Latest Mac OS, OS X Lion

Updating to Mac OS X Lion 10.7Apple is weeks, if not days away, from releasing its latest operating system, Mac OS X Lion 10.7, which will be available only through Apple’s App Store for about 30 bucks. As with all changes to any OS, whether Apple, Microsoft or any other platform, there has been much speculation about the impact on software that runs on the new OS, especially RIP programs, and the market in general.

Whatever the general impact may be, the best advice for anyone who’s ready to upgrade is… Wait. If anything has been learned from past OS updates, it’s this simple axiom.

For anyone who runs a wide format inkjet printer this is especially important since waiting allows printer and software manufacturers to fix any problems associated with the switch. Rest assured, engineers and developers are busily working out the kinks right now. However, they cannot possibly fix everything that users will run into as Lion rolls out.

So wait, and consult with your vendors before, during, and after any installation of a new OS. No one likes surprises when they have a color-critical job that prints off-target due to an unseen glitch in the operating system. Call a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538 if you have any questions about the compatibility of your print-oriented software with Mac OS X Lion.

How to Update Firmware on an Epson Stylus Pro Inkjet Printer

Firmware updates Epson printerUpdating your printer’s firmware is an important step that should be performed once a new printer arrives and then on a regular basis. By updating the firmware, you are ensuring that your printer is being used to its fullest capacity.

Firmware updates typically include fixes or patches that, in the past, have improved things like print speed and have helped to reduce paper waste and ink consumption. At the very least, you should check for new firmware updates every six months and update your firmware when new releases are available.

In the videos below, you will learn how to update the firmware on an Epson Stylus Pro printer using a Mac or a PC, in that order…