Key questions to ask when purchasing a large format printer

The information below provides a checklist of some of the key questions you may wish to ask when purchasing a large format (HP Designjet) printer for the first time - noting that we are here to give you an honest recommendation with no obligation if you wish to contact us. Useful questions to ask ahead of time are:

Usability considerations

  • Do I need to print up to A1 or A0?
  • Do I need a printer that has the ability to colour match pantones - or can I settle for just 'good' photo quality?
  • Do I need to scan and print …or just print?
  • Do I need a printer capable of handling low, medium or high print volumes?
  • If my business grows might I need a printer to handle greater print volumes?
  • Do I need to print PDFs? or renders? - should I consider a PostScript printer?
  • Do I need the machine to be on a stand – or can I get away with a desktop machine?
  • Do I need to network the printer to several people so that they can all easily print to the printer?
  • If my business grows might I need the ability to network to more people? will an integral stacker be useful?
  • Does my operating system support this printer? 
  • Do I need to ensure my inks are UV stabilised and waterproof (ideal for outdoor work)?
  • What options are important to me? e.g. twin rolls with smart switching, added security and removable HDD, print from USB etc?
  • If I am purchasing this machine for others, will they be happy working with it?
  • Are my printer requirements likely to change in a few years’ time in line with my business?

Financial considerations

  • What budget do I want to assign to this purchase?
  • Have I considered that a refurbished/second user machine may incur additional service/repair costs? 
  • If I decide not to purchase a networked or PostScript printer now, is it possible to add this option later? at what cost?
  • Is it worth increasing my budget at the outset to provide long term ‘cost per print’ savings?
  • Do I need good reporting tools in order to invoice customers accurately for their printing or to analyse our print costs?
  • Would long term rental (or lease purchase) be a more practical option for me if I can’t afford the Designjet I need now?
  • Can I get a trade-in on my old machine to help offset the costs of my new purchase?
  • Do I have sufficient budget to purchase an extended warranty? how much more is it to purchase this post-manufacturers warranty?
  • Should I consider a professionally refurbished printer/demo printer/nearly new or as new stock? 
  • Have I remembered to include an anti-surge device (below £10) to protect the printer in the event of a power surge (& avoid not invalidating my warranty)?

Other considerations

  • How does the printer perform within my particular industry – what are other similar businesses using as their choice printer?
  • Are other businesses using the same software as me – and if so, have they hit any software snags?
  • Will my chosen Designjet fit through my front door and/or lift?
  • Is there enough practical room for someone to bend over and remove drawings etc (Check room measurements!).
  • How heavy is the Designjet – and will I be capable of setting it up myself? (some require 4 strong men to lift them)
  • Should I pay extra for ‘set up and installation’, which will include basic printer training/ongoing maintenance?
  • Will the supplier let me view the printer prior to purchase, and/or print off test prints?
  • When choosing between models, have I assessed the ongoing running costs (cost per print and total cost of ownership)?
  • If I am purchasing an old model, what guarantee do I have that spare parts will be available in 1-2 years time if it breaks down?
  • Do I want to purchase from a box shifter with no indepth knowledge of this product who may save me some money at the outset?
  • Do I want to purchase from a Designjet specialist who will answer most of my questions along the way and provide me with ongoing service/support? 


  • “Resolution GB Ltd is a long standing business partner of HP in the Designjet market place and they are a pleasure to work with and to supply to. They have prided themselves on building a brand that stands for excellent and unrivalled service and it is this passion for its customers that HP is extremely proud of. Ultimately it is the people behind the brand that makes the business and every person I have met and dealt with at Resolution; from the directors Tony and Nicola Bray to sales and service embody a culture. It is this culture that makes Resolution GB Ltd a company that everyone will want to do business with”


  • Printer is great; performing as it should. Thanks for your help and advice. It made the process a lot easier.

    The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

  • Very impressed and more than happy with the level of service we received from searching for the right machine and ordering right through to delivery. Incredibly pleased with the plotter and wonder how we coped with the slow print speed of our old machine for so long!

    Smiths Gore

  • The new plotter is superb, and the installation is very basic and took a matter of 1hr to build and install.

    Poyry UK

  • Resolution GB provided a prompt solution to our plotter failure, explaining all the options clearly before supplying and fitting a very competitively priced new machine to replace our old defunct plotter and scanner. Very helpful and prompt response to remedy our plotter failure. Couldn`t have asked for anything more.

    Melville Dunbar Associates


  • I’ve seen a Designjet on Ebay – do you think it’s worth getting?

    You can get bargains on Ebay but equally unless you tread carefully you may get stung. Sometimes sellers are canny and provide vague statements such as “sold as seen” – “untested” (which can usually mean there’s significant repair costs involved). Sometimes the seller lists the error code in good faith – however your ‘bargain’ printer may end up costing you a significant amount in spare parts and labour. Worst case scenario is that the cost of repair brings the total cost of purchase to the same cost as a new machine. Sometimes the machines are such old models that it is impossible to source parts. In short – be sure to go out and test the machine from your laptop prior to committing to a purchase and check the sellers ratings. If required, we can undertake a service/clean of the printer and provide any advisory notes for you.

  • How long after a machine goes End of Life (EOL) will HP keep making spare parts for it?

    HP commit to supporting a printer for a minimum of 5 years after it is made EOL. Some machines such as the 4xx series, 500 series have been so popular that parts are still available – however some models such as 2xx, 3xx, 6xx, 7xx, CP series have now pretty much reached the end of their useful life span as it is now hard to source parts for them.

  • What’s the difference between second hand and refurbished printers?

    A second hand machine is usually a machine which someone no longer uses (either working or not working) and they’ve done nothing to it prior to selling it to you – other than giving it a quick clean on the outside to increase saleability. Often it comes with no warranty and is “sold as seen” – or with a minimum 1 month warranty. By contrast, a professionally refurbished printer means that the printer has been stripped down, cleaned, lubricated and worn or failing parts have been replaced. Refurbished printers also come with a certain level of inks together with some form of warranty (typically 3 months with an option to extend cover). We occasionally see examples of customers purchasing a so called ‘refurbished printer’ from some unscrupulous dealers where it’s clear no work has been undertaken on the machine. It’s always best to purchase from a company with a good reputation.

  • Some printers offer a postscript model or non-postscript model – what’s the difference?

    Please refer to PDF opposite - When to purchase a PostScript Designjet printer.  In short, PostScript is a page description language developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated. It is a way of describing what a page should look like. Its main application is its ability to handle complex text and graphics. Many HP Designjets offer the model in postscript or non-postscript – and in all cases the postscript model has advantages that go far beyond their ability to print Postscript files.

  • Should I opt for a Designjet T series or Z series?

    If you know absolutely nothing about HP Designjets, then broadly speaking the T-series Designjets are technical machines which have been designed for the likes of Architects, Engineers and those in the Building and Construction industry (often CAD users) - whereas the Z series are designed more for the Photographic, Fine Art, Graphic Art business sector where pantones and colour matching are of key importance.  In some ways you can liken Designjets to cars. Older models are simpler builds where you can strip them down, put them back together the right way and ‘voila’ you’re ready to go (assuming you can still purchase the spare parts!). By comparison the newer models are faster and smarter and do more things – but they are more complicated builds and are more difficult for the lay person to self-repair. To assess the best printer for your needs please visit our Designjet Showroom and open the Advanced Filter - or speak to us for free, independent advice.

  • Will the Designjet work fine with my software?

    HP can’t guarantee that their Designjets will perform as expected with every single software package in the marketplace (of which there are thousands!) - sometimes there are anomalies - and it's worth coming along and undertaking a test print prior to purchasing a printer if you are unsure of the compatibility.

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