wide format printer cost

Many people have a misconception that a wide format printer is a very expensive device and that his/her business doesn’t have room for one in their budget. A couple of years ago that thinking would have been correct. Wide format printers used to go for over $15,000! It was considered a specialty item and outsourcing prints was far less expensive. However, that is not the case today. The cost of a wide format printer is far more reasonable than you think.   

What is a Wide Format Printer?  

Before we dive into the costs, let’s define what a wide format printer is. A wide format printer, also known as a large format printer, is a computer-controlled printer that prints on large paper sizes. Most often, these devices print on roll paper, however, many have the capability to print on large sheets of paper as well. Wide format printers can support a paper or roll width of 18” up to 100”.   

Applications for a Wide Format Printer  

A wide format printer can be used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to:  

  • Drawings  
  • Bulletins  
  • Banners  
  • Maps  
  • Line Drawings  
  • Blueprints  
  • Aerial Photos  
  • Informational Graphics  
  • Ink Transparencies  

The intended use of your wide format printer will play a large part in what type of wide format device you need and how much it will cost.   

Factors that Impact the Cost of the Device  

There are several items that impact the cost of a wide format printer, such as:  

  • Roll-fed, sheet-fed or both  
  • Paper size  
  • Compatible media types
  • Applications being produced  
  • Scanning functionality  
  • Color preferences/number of inks  
  • Auto paper loader  
  • 2 paper roll capability  

The number of inks and size capability of the device make the largest impact on the price.  

How much does a wide format printer cost?  

The factors above will have an impact to the cost, however, here is a general guide to give you an idea of what a device could cost.   

Level of Printer  Maximum Width   Number of Inks  Price Range  
Basic printer  24” to 36”  5 color  $1,500 – $4,000  
Mid-range printer  24” to 44”  5 color  $4,000 – $10,500  
Production printer  44” to 60”  8 color  $5,000 – $10,000  
Fine art printer  24” to 60”  12 color  $3,000 – $12,000  
*Chart is based on the Canon line of wide format printers.
 Basic and Mid-range  

The basic and mid-range printers are best suited for schools, churches, business offices, and architects. Most basic and mid-range printers are compatible with the scanning add-on. Typical applications include:  

  • General use  
  • Signage  
  • Posters  
  • Line drawings  

The production level printers have impressive speeds and work well in print shops and specialty stores. Typical applications include:  

  • Production signage  
  • Infographics  
  • Posters  
Fine art   

Fine art printers are the top level. These devices have 12 ink colors, enabling them to produce excellent quality documents. Typical applications include  

  • Photography  
  • Proofing  
  • Fine art production  

Additional Costs  

The costs associated with a wide format printer don’t end after the initial purchase. A few additional costs include:  

  • Media/paper  
  • Ink  
  • Maintenance  

Please note, because wide format printers use inkjet technology, there is a possibility that the nozzles of the printhead will get plugged. Often, a simple printhead cleaning will fix this. However, sometimes the printheads must be replaced. Depending on the manufacturer of your wide format device, this replacement may require a certified technician. This is an additional expense to be prepared for. 

Cost of Prints  

The cost of printing in-house will vary depending on the size of the paper, the paper type, how much ink is used, etc. However, to give you an idea of what a print may cost in-house compared to outsourced, here are two examples:  

Type of Print  Paper Type  Paper Size  Cost  
B&W Line Drawing PDF  20lb Bond Paper  24” x 36”   $3.78  
Color Poster Restaurant Sign  Satin Photo Paper  24” x 36”  $30.00  
Pricing information from Staples.
Type of Print  Paper Type  Paper Size  Cost  
B&W Line Drawing PDF  20lb Bond Paper  24” x 36”   $0.30  
Color Poster Restaurant Sign  Satin Photo Paper  24” x 36”  $4.38  
Pricing calculations based on a 5 color Canon TM series device.

As you can see, the cost of printing large format documents in-house is much less compared to outsourcing your prints. Of course, there is a cost associated with purchasing a wide format device. However, you can quickly make up for that expense by bringing your outsourced prints in-house.   

To discover exactly how much a wide format device will cost your business, we recommend contacting a wide format print specialist. A specialist can help match you with the ideal printer for your business needs.