Don't bleed me with color ink charges!
November 16, 2011 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a very specific kind of printer that can print true black onto 4x6 card stock weight paper.

The printer would be used for to print black text onto one side of a 4x6 pre-printed postcard. The postcard is already full color, so this would literally ONLY be printing black text. This is what the business I work for uses as our gift card solution to include with product.

Ideally, it would have the following features:

1. Compact, reasonably priced unit / parts.
2. Able to print in true black, not a composite from color cartridges as those tend to be much pricier in the long run.
3. Durable.
4. Able to handle postcard weight paper, probably around 110g.

Any ideas? The first thing I stumbled across was the Canon Selphy CP800 photo printer, but had to rule that out because it uses proprietary paper AND ink which are very expensive.
posted by lazaruslong to Shopping (8 answers total)
No suggestions, but now that you're mentioning "true black" do you mean you want a "rich black"? Or just black from the black cartridge alone? You mentioned cost, so I assume "rich black" is out.
posted by Brian Puccio at 2:02 PM on November 16, 2011

I would look for a black-and-white laser printer. Their black is the real deal, and the text has a crispness that you don't get even with high-end inkjets. They are also way faster than inkjets. I'm not sure if any old printer can deal with heavy paper, but I'm sure some printers have the ability. The toner cartridges are around $100 for a personal-sized model and you would probably get over 10,000 postcards from one cartridge.
posted by scose at 2:03 PM on November 16, 2011

A printer that is going to do the above and do it well is going to be an expensive printer. The Canon Selphy CP800 is a $100 home-use photo printer that has a low entry cost but a very high ink cost. To do a lot of these, you are going to spend way more than you would like for a large number of these cards. So it boils down to a few questions:

How many cards are you looking to print per month?
What is your budget now and in the future for ink?
How much would it be to take this to a print shop to have done for the next few years (general lifetime of a printer)?

My bet is that ultimately it could be cheaper to do a big batch of these through a copy store than to buy a printer and gallons of ink.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:11 PM on November 16, 2011

A couple of considerations:

#1 What kind of stock are the postcards printed on? Something like a coated glossy is going to be troublesome. Stuff like that tends to melt in laser printers, and even if it doesn't, laser toner doesn't stick well to glossy. And inkjet ink may not dry correctly. You'd need to make sure you bought one that has a glossy setting, and then test it with the ink to make sure the ink doesn't wipe off easily. And budget for name-brand ink. The cheap stuff is probably worse in this regard. Upside, however, is that it is possible there are custom inks out there that work better on glossy paper.

#2 That weight shouldn't be a problem, but some printers like to misbehave with paper on the heavy or light side of the acceptable spectrum.

If you are printing these things one-off, on a per-customer basis, look for something like a validator printer.
posted by gjc at 2:31 PM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: Brian Puccio: Nope, sorry, I didn't know that the phrase I was using is close to a technical term. I just mean black ink from a black ink cartridge, not black ink made by mixing 3 color cartridges.

Scose: We already have a few laser printers around the office....I guess I was just under the impression they didn't do 4x6. I gotta check on that.

Mister Fabulous: Sorry, I may have been unclear. The postcards we do outsource already to be full color printed and snazzy, I just want to put black text on the existing ones. And I can't really do a big batch, because the text I want to put on are customer-order-specific gift notes that I only need to print when the order comes in. So the idea is get an order with a gift note, pop a 4x6 snazzy postcard into a printer, gift note text is printed on it, and we're done.

gjc: Great point....I need to check that. I think it's closer to a semi-glossy. And it is a one-off, per-customer thing....gonna google "validator printer" now, as I've never heard that term!
posted by lazaruslong at 2:35 PM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: ohhhhhhhh receipt printer. Hmmm. The ones we have are all spindle-based....wouldn't that kinda destroy cardstock weight paper to be bent like that?
posted by lazaruslong at 2:36 PM on November 16, 2011

What makes a receipt printer into a validator is that you can stick sheet-stock in to be printed on without removing the rolled receipt paper. The classic case is sticking a check in to be validated.

I wish I had a more useful answer for you, but all I can go off is something I've seen. They make validators that are flatbed, almost like a plotter. They are used in places that are still using multi-part carbonless forms. But I am almost sure I've seen inkjet based ones.

And yes, most lasers can handle 4x6 sized stock at 110g/m2. But make sure your stock is laser safe before you test it! You can jack up a laser printer pretty quickly if the coating melts off. And depending on the model of printer, you can end up with curling with those too.

Another thing to consider is a thermal transfer label printer (the kind that uses a film as ink, like old fax machines), printing on transparent labels. Their advantage is that they have a very rich black, and the per-unit cost might work out.
posted by gjc at 5:56 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding the laser suggestion. I have a $50 Brother model, had it for three years, just needed to replace the toner. Text is dark and crisp. I can do any size I want through the envelope feeder.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Mom, stop sending me spam!   |   I have sensitive skin that dries out easily. Which... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.