Production Printers vs. Technical Printers vs. Wide-Format Printers

Production Printers vs. Technical Printers vs. Wide-Format Printers
Production Printers vs. Technical Printers vs. Wide-Format Printers

There are different types of printers for various applications. These printers can be categorized into three — production, technical, and wide-format. Each has unique features which inform your decision when making a purchase. In this guide, you'll learn about the three popular printer types and how they compare.

There are different types of printers for various applications. These printers can be categorized into three — production, technical, and wide-format. Each has unique features which inform your decision when making a purchase. In this guide, you'll learn about the three popular printer types and how they compare.

What Is a Production Printer?

Production printers are designed for high-volume printing. They are high-speed printers that can produce different outputs, including booklets, posters, and pamphlets. Production printers are usually found in commercial printing environments. These printers are ideal for businesses that need professional-grade products on a tight schedule.

Businesses that often use production printers include:

  • Marketing agencies
  • In-house marketing departments
  • Print shops
  • Publishing companies
  • Packaging industries

Modern production printers use advanced digital printing technologies like LED and laser to achieve fast and efficient large-quantity printings. The software capabilities facilitate workflow integration, managing complex print jobs, customization, and variable data printing. The printing quality is precise and consistent. They can handle different paper sizes, weights, and finishes.

What Is a Technical Printer?

Technical printers, also known as engineering printers, are specialized printers used for large format jobs that require precision. They are ideal for printing:

  • Technical drawings
  • Schematics
  • Maps
  • Construction plans
  • Computer-aided designs (CAD)
  • Business graphics

Other possible applications include geographic information system (GIS) printouts and floor plans. Technical printers produce high-resolution outputs. They support various media types.

Businesses that use technical printers include:

  • Architecture firms
  • Engineering companies
  • Construction companies
  • Civil engineers
  • Surveyors

Businesses, schools and public agencies that want to print large color posters may also use technical printers. Technical printers are relatively cost-effective. They also offer a high degree of precision.  

What Is a Wide-Format Printer?

Wide-format printers are designed for printing on larger media sizes than standard printers. If you want to print on large papers ranging from two to 15 feet in length, sometimes more, wide-format printers are your go-to. Versions with capacities over 100 inches wide are considered grand or super-wide formats. Wide-format printers are best suited for outputs such as:

  • Banners
  • Posters
  • Signs
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Wall graphics

Wide-format printers can print on various materials, including paper, canvas, and vinyl. They produce high-quality results and are customizable. They are usually used for relatively low-volume projects since their speed may be slower than others, like production printers. The printers also have UV-resistant and waterproof printing options. Another capability is flatbed or roll-to-roll printing, which allows you to vary the ink type depending on the nature of the project. This feature lets you move from fine art to latex print while maintaining quality.

What Are the Similarities Between the Printer Types?

While they have different use cases, technical, production, and wide-format printers have similarities:

  • High-quality output: All three types of printers are designed to deliver high-quality printed materials, whether it's precise technical drawings, vibrant marketing materials, or detailed large-format graphics.
  • Advanced features: Each printer type usually has advanced features to optimize performance and output quality. Features include color calibration, support for various media types, large format capabilities, and finishing options.
  • Efficiency: These printers are designed for efficiency in their respective domains. Production printers are ideal for high-speed printing, whereas technical printers produce precise outputs. Wide-format printers can handle larger media sizes than any other type.
  • Professional use: The three printers are predominantly used in professional settings where precision, quality, and reliability are crucial. They cater to industries and businesses where printing plays a significant role in their operations.
  • Specialized applications: Technical, production, and wide-format printers are all specialized for specific printing tasks. They are tailored to meet the unique requirements of their respective industries.

What Are the Differences Between the Printer Types?

Despite their similarities, technical, production, and wide-format printers have apparent differences:

  • Primary use: Production printers are primarily used for high-volume commercial printing, while technical printers are designed for technical materials. Wide-format printers are suited for large media-size prints.
  • Print size: Production printers usually handle standard paper sizes for commercial printing, whereas technical printers support larger print sizes. Wide-format printers accommodate the largest print sizes.
  • Resolution and detail: Production printers may sacrifice minor details for faster printing, whereas technical printers prioritize high resolution and precision. Wide-format printer balances between resolution and speed to produce detailed large-format graphics.
  • Media handling: Production printers are versatile because they handle various paper types and weights for commercial printing. Technical printers are usually used for specialized media like blueprint paper or vellum. Wide-format printers can print on different materials, including paper, canvas, vinyl, and fabrics.
  • Features: Production printers offer high-speed printing, advanced finishing options, and color calibration for consistent quality. Integrate with CAD software, offer precise color matching, and may have functions specific to technical drawing requirements. Wide-format printers provide UV-resistant and waterproof options, and roll-to-roll or flatbed printing.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Printer

When choosing technical, production, and wide-format printers, you must consider vital factors like the following:

1. Cost Efficiency

Production printers are cost-effective when you print in large volumes. You can reduce material costs and energy consumption. Technical printers may attract high upfront costs, but they can be cost-efficient for businesses that require accurate technical drawings and plans. Investing in a wide-format printer is best if you regularly print large media.

2. Print Quality and Output

Production printers produce quality results with vibrant colors, sharp text, and consistent output. Technical printers, on the other hand, focus on precision. Results are highly accurate and capable of capturing intricate details. Wide-format printers are optimized for large-scale, high-resolution graphics and vivid colors.

3. Maintenance Needs and Longevity

All three printers require regular maintenance to ensure longevity. However, the quality of the printer also plays a vital role. Buying a trusted brand is crucial to ensure you get value for your money.

4. Output Speed and Productivity

Production printers are generally the fastest, making them ideal for large-volume commercial media prints. Technical printers focus on precision, making them slightly slower. However, they can increase productivity if you work in a specialized industry like construction, surveying, or engineering. Wide-format printers can vary in speed depending on the model and specifications. 

5. Integration

Modern printers have broad integration capabilities. Production monitors can integrate into workflow automation systems to streamline operations. Technical printers integrate with CAD software used in industries like architecture and engineering. Wide-format printing can also integrate with raster image processor (RIP) software to enhance image processing capabilities, color management, and print job efficiency. 

6. Media Compatibility and Versatility

Production printers are versatile and can handle various paper types, weights and sizes. Technical printers work with specialized media, whereas wide-format printers are designed for large media and different materials beyond traditional paper.

7. Environmental Impact and Sustainability

All three printers are environmentally friendly. They reduce energy consumption and use consumables like ink and toner cartridges. The printer's brand also impacts its eco-friendliness, so it's best to check before you buy.

8. Ease of Use and User Experience

Modern printers are easy to use. They are designed for specific applications with simple-to-use interfaces. Most of these devices are plug-and-play with straightforward instructions. There are instances where you may require training to use the software optimally. However, you may consult a professional for assistance if you encounter any challenges.


Choose the Right Printing Solution With Duncan-Parnell

Duncan-Parnell is the leading supplier of high-quality printers to businesses nationwide. We have different offerings depending on your application, with brands like HP, Océ, Epson, and Canon. Our trained professionals can assess your needs and help you decide which option is best. Contact us today.

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