Learning Resources

Printer Basics

Technical Considerations

There are a few things you'll want to think about when making your purchases...

1) DPI
DPI, or dots-per-inch, is the measure of a printer's resolution. The lower the DPI (for example, 100 x 100), the larger the dots and the lower the resolution. This makes your print-out look grainier and less professional. If you're planning to print quality artwork, a good range is 300 to 600 dpi.

2) PPM PPM stands for pages-per-minute.
This is the measure of your printer's speed. Again, a higher number is better if you print in bulk or if time is of utmost importance. A monochrome laser printer can output up to 20 ppm, while a good inkjet can handle around 5-10 ppm b/w and 3-5 ppm color on your average sheet of paper.

3) Mediums and paper sizes
Since everyone doesn't work with 8" x 10" images, the ability to handle a wide range of paper sizes could well be important. Many laser printers can handle up to 11" x 17", as can some inkjets. However, the majority of printers will only accept 8.5" x 11" with an 8 x 10 print area. This means, of course, that if your work is bigger than the print area, either you will need to reduce the image size, or accept that your work will be cropped.

You will also want to consider what sort of mediums the printer can handle. Depending on your form of artwork, you may well want to print on glossy photo-paper, or on cardstock or even on t-shirt transfers. If this is the case, you may well want to do a little research on what each printer can handle. In addition, many printer makers such as Hewlett Packard, Epson and Cannon have lines of specialty papers created specifically for their printers. If you think you'll want to print on something other than plain paper, you may wish to compare prices and see which is right for your budget.

4) Cost Per Page
This is where you really need to consider your long-term budget. The cost per page is a combination of the price of the paper, the price of the ink cartridges and the ammount of ink needed for each page. Many high-quality printers have correspondingly high costs per page.