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    PrintersPress

    The Blog of PrintersPlus
  2. PrintersPlus: An Animated History

    PrintersPlus: An Animated History

    old-printers

    I wanted to call it Joe Printer. Pete, my partner at the time, quickly said that was a dumb idea and we eventually decided on PrintersPlus, with an emphasis on capitalized P’s. Truthfully, neither of us particularly cared for the name and proceeded to spend the next couple of decades trying to think of a better one.

    It never happened.

    Fast forward 23 years and we have since launched a new logo, a new website, and new matching signage outside our recently remodeled office. We’ve packaged that all together with a whole new perspective on what this company is going to be going forward, leaving the name unchanged.

    An Industry that Exudes Excitement

    In the IT space in Canada, those of us that sell print tend to have an inferiority complex. We aren’t as splashy as software developers and integrators, managed service providers or solutions architects. Selling a server, or a laptop, or even a standard desktop computer, for whatever reason, was more glamourous then worrying about the copier or printer attached via a cable or fancy network.

    But somebody had to do it. So why not us.

    Trust me, I am doing everything I can to not bore you to death.

    The Future

    Let’s be honest; most of you reading this haven’t the faintest idea of what PrintersPlus is. That’s OK.

    Some of you might know that we are about 30 people who somehow manage to do the work of 100. Most, if not all, of you don’t realize that we have tens of thousands of customers, from every province in Canada, and process hundreds of thousands of transactions every year. And to think we are only scratching the surface.

    From time to time now we will be telling the stories of PrintersPlus. Personally speaking, I would never have any interest in reading a blog about anything to do with a printer, or even about a company that I know and buy things from.  For me, it’s all about paying as little as possible for the thing that I want to be in my hand the next day. That said, we are going to take a crack at changing that way of thinking.

    There are a few rules that we at PrintersPlus live by. Whenever you call PrintersPlus, you get a person. We have no personal voicemails. We don’t wait well. Everything that we do – has to be done NOW. We simply do not have the time to let issues pile up, accept delays from the companies that we deal with, nor expect our customers to be patient. In this industry, price is becoming everything. We utilize every attainable resource that we can dig up to be able to provide the lowest price possible and pass those savings along to our customers.

    If this is your first time here, I hope you will take a deeper look at our organization and what we have to offer.  If you’ve been here before, I want to personally thank you for your support and hope we can continue to develop our relationship over the next 23 years.

    -Alec Milne

    President, PrintersPlus

     

  3. The PrintersPlus Pricing Advantage

    The PrintersPlus Pricing Advantage

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    We passionately believe that the thing that makes PrintersPlus unique in the Canadian marketplace is our approach to price.

    Take, for example, our new website, it looks great (albeit still a work in progress) and will serve as the gateway to how we deliver pricing to our customers.  What you don’t see is that what is behind the home page are in excess of 20 different individual stores. Once we approve (with mandatory skill testing questions), a customer gains access to one of these stores by logging in. We sell thousands of items, many linked to each other, and in each store – a different price. The staff at PrintersPlus is green with envy of those who work for companies who buy what they sell at one price and sell it for another. Unfortunately, we are not afforded that luxury.

    Selling to all levels of Governments, Education, Health Care, Fortune 500 and SMB’s requires that we create pricing models to satisfy each sector with approximately 20 manufacturers. For example, our friends at HP are keenly interested in our selling HP-branded printers and their supplies in the healthcare sector. In order for us to do that effectively, we negotiate discounted pricing with HP to enable us to provide the best pricing possible for the customer in health care and ensure that HP equipment will be selected. Over 95% of what PrintersPlus sells or leases is done under such agreements. Our job is to make sure an individual client can qualify for that discounted pricing and be able to shop at that associated store.

    That brings us back to the website again. First-time buyers can be assured of one thing when arriving at our website. PrintersPlus has done everything in its power to assure that the price displayed for an individual item is as low as it possibly can be.

    We ask you to shop and compare and hope you come back. We want you to know that once you have purchased something, we will be contacting you. First to thank you, and second to find a pricing level for you that is suited to your industry. We will create a landing page within that store, specific to your needs, that will make re-ordering a breeze and give you complete peace of mind that all of your print needs are covered.

    Any questions feel free to contact us. Phone, email, the Hi, How can we help link on the website and even via fax (believe it or not we still receive about 50 a day)

    We can’t wait to hear from you.

     

  4. The Art of 3D Printing

    The Art of 3D Printing

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    3D printing is known as a form of “additive manufacturing,” and this term in itself begins to describe how the process works. Basically, a 3D print-out is constructed by adding on layer after layer until the final item has been formed. But, before any of these steps can be taken, a digital concept has to be created.

    How It Works

    3D printers allow all sorts of design concepts to be sent through them, but before your design can make it out of the 3D printer, you have to begin by opening a piece of computer software that enables 3D design and get to work creating it.

    The 3D printer is probably one of the most game-changing pieces of tech in the last few years, and while initially it was thought that consumers would hardly have the chance to play with this technology, there are already plenty of consumer models available.

    3D printing is incredible in that you can turn just about anything in your imagination into a CAD drawing (Computer Aided Design) and then send it off to your printer. In a matter of minutes, you could be pulling out a tangible object that’s fully functional or fashionable (depending on your motivation for using the printer). This is an extremely exciting and satisfying process, but designing the CAD drawing is probably the most difficult step.

    That’s why plenty of new startups are now offering 3D design services where they can take anyone’s design idea and make a printable concept out of it. And, for consumers that don’t yet have a 3D printer collecting dust in their home, most cities have a tech lab somewhere nearby where they can send their CAD to be printed.

    To print a 3D object, the printer will look at the CAD design and then break it down into thousands of 2D layers so it can begin layering them on one another. The object will eventually be complete (usually within a matter of minutes).

    The Potential

    People have already begun printing delicious creations by using sugar as their base material. Other materials include plastics, rubbers, and similar items, but the possibilities are expected to continue expanding into the future with various options being added.

    Anybody itching to have a 3D printer of their own just has to save up anywhere from $300 to $3,500--depending on what they want it to be able to do. However, like every piece of new technology, the price of 3D printers is expected to drop in the next few years as research and demand continue to increase.

  5. All Paper Is Not Created Equal: Choosing The Right Paper For Your Office Printer

    All Paper Is Not Created Equal: Choosing The Right Paper For Your Office Printer

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    Although advancing technology and equipment makes running a business so much simpler, in a way, it also makes it a tad more complicated. Gone are the days when you could simply run to the store and pick up any ring of paper. Now, just like with ink/toner cartridges, it’s important you take the manufacturers recommendations to heart.

    What Paper Should I Get?

    When you walk into your office supply store, the huge aisle full of choices is certainly overwhelming. If you haven’t noticed, most big name printer manufacturers have begun offering complete lines of ink and paper. So, if you’re trying to narrow down your choices quickly, the first step is to migrate to the section of paper offered by your printer’s manufacturer.

    Although it might sound silly that using paper from another manufacturer could somehow bring harm to your branded printer, it’s a fact. This is especially true with inkjet printers because companies specifically design their paper, printer, and ink to work together in order to get you the best results. In addition to giving you a high-quality print, using non-OEM disposables could also cause wear and tear on your printer.

    Now, if you happen to be using a laser printer and you’re just sticking with basic plain text files and draft-quality images, you don’t necessarily have to stress about name-matching everything that goes into your printer--although it doesn’t hurt.

    The next step when narrowing down your options is to check your manual. There’s a very good chance that it contains all the information you need to pick the right paper for your printer. Your particular printing model will likely have a special range of papers depending on the primary application. For instance, a photo printer will certainly be made to work best with the manufacturer’s photo paper.

    Making Your Decision

    Narrowing your options down like so will likely still leave you with a few different choices, and that’s the idea. Your remaining selection will give you the choice to decide whether you need color-tinted or plain white. It will also leave you with the freedom to choose among the following labels: paper, glossy, swellable, cotton rag, and so on.

    What you decide on among this short list of choices will depend on what your office needs. Obviously, the go-to choice for most people is just a simple plain white paper, but you might also consider varying weights (thicknesses) and if your printer can accommodate them, even different paper sizes to add more variety to your next print job.

  6. The Benefits of Managed Print Services

    The Benefits of Managed Print Services

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    There are multiple instances in which an organization would benefit from using managed print services (MSP). This short article will look at some of the most beneficial aspects of using MSP for your office:

    Cost Savings

    At the top of every organization’s priorities list is saving money. Printing costs are frequently overlooked, but they can quickly add up. Between toner and paper to maintenance work and upkeep, about 1-3% of the average business’ total annual revenue is put towards generating documents and forms. Just by employing MSP, you could save up to 30% of the money your organization spends generating documents.

    Increase Efficiency

    One cost that is harder to factor in is the time your employees spend either delayed by a machine in need of repair or by the time they spend refilling your current printer. Depending on the industry you are in, they may also be spending a substantial amount of time going to and from the printer, connecting to the printer, and/or troubleshooting their connection. For all these reasons and more, a Managed Print Service can help save your staff a lot of time and frustration by handling the printing process for them.

    Lower Maintenance Costs

    If your office needs copies of unique forms (such as digitally filled documents) printed, you may still require an in-house printer for certain printing jobs. But, even so, by outsourcing the bulk of your printing needs, your office will be able to save in a multitude of ways. As one example, with less use, your printer will need less maintenance, both lowering ongoing upkeep costs and extending its life.

    It’s Greener

    Being “green” and friendly to the environment is a big deal these days, and while efforts to go green can sometimes raise costs or lower efficiency, MPS gives quite the opposite effect. Any company that chooses to utilize MPS is lowering their overall impact on the environment because the MPS will consolidate devices (lowering electrical consumption) and help reduce wasted supplies and paper usage.

    Tips

    • When selecting the right Managed Printing Service for your office, consider their rates and how they charge. Most will charge either a base fee + per page or just per page. Some companies also use a monthly tier system that allows you up to so many copies before an additional fee is charged.
    • If you are interested in calculating just how much you could save, you first need to know how much you currently spend. To do so, you need to calculate your TOC, or Total Cost of Ownership for the printers in your office. You can also find free tools to estimate by industry how much you spend on in-house printing each month.
    • To make the most of MPS, you should go through all the forms and materials your office regularly prints to estimate how much usage your current printing systems receive. The bulk of your printing needs could easily be outsourced.
  7. How to Keep Your Printing Network Secure

    How to Keep Your Printing Network Secure

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    Today, it is paramount that businesses of all sizes take the adequate steps to protect themselves from hacking attempts and data breaches. One thing that is often overlooked, however, is a business’ printing network.

    There are multiple risks that come along with using a network printer, and those risks are multiplied when your network printing isn’t properly secured. Here are 7 ways to be sure your printers are protected:

    Unplug

    The most effective way to eliminate the risks associated with having a shared network printer is to unplug it. In other words, don’t make it a network printer. If your business will be able to manage with the printer directly connected to one computer via the USB port, there is no reason to open your business up to the risks of having a network printer. This will keep your printer’s access, and the things you print, private.

    Use a Password

    Just about every network printer out there can be accessed remotely by entering a password. This is the most important step you can ever take in protecting your network printer: Change the default password to something unique! Failing to do so is an easy backdoor for anyone wanting access to it.

    Firmware

    You might not think that you need to worry about updating your printer’s firmware, but the reason why manufacturers release updates is so they can patch security issues. Not updating means your printer will have known security gaps that can cause real issues.

    Secure Everything

    You need to manage your printers by regularly updating passwords, checking for firmware updates, and securing access to your printer(s). Also, be sure to have a firewall setup so your printer isn’t vulnerable to outside probing and attacks, and also be certain to secure your Wi-Fi networks.

    These things will help you secure your infrastructure, but you also need to be sure to secure both your data and the printers themselves. Go beyond changing the default password and also be sure to implement access control. If your printer has a hard drive, it should be encrypted. After a print job is complete, be sure that all traces of it are erased from the printer’s memory and hard drive. When securing your data, be certain that you only send print jobs across a properly secured network. Use encryption at all times.

    If you take these precautionary steps to protect your printing network, your business will be significantly more protected from potential security breaches. Perhaps most importantly of all, be sure to inform your employees about proper protocol and demonstrate to them what a secure printing process looks like. Detail extra steps they need to follow in securing data, and always keep them up-to-date on the best security practices.

  8. How to Stay on Top of Office Printing Supplies

    How to Stay on Top of Office Printing Supplies

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    It’s already been a long day at the office, and there’s not much else more irritating than walking to the printer to select your copies and finding out it’s out of paper or ink. Depending on the print job, this could completely slow down the rest of the workday, especially when you reach into the supply cabinet and see that you lack a refill.

    In a perfect world, printers would maintain themselves. But, unfortunately, we all have to put up with the modern inconvenience of a printer running out of paper or toner--or do we?

    The Alternative To In-Office Printing Headaches

    For many companies, there’s a chance that they don’t need to be putting up with their printer at all. In fact, most businesses can enjoy some relief from printer upkeep, at least most of the time, by employing a managed print service. Saving money, forgetting about refills, and no longer standing over a broken down printer are just some of the benefits of choosing a managed print service to handle the bulk of your office’s printing jobs.

    However, there are also some other ways to keep your organization from running low on important supplies.

    Keeping Up With Supplies

    A lot of things are constantly going on at the office, but someone needs to be devoted to keeping an eye on the supply cabinet and re-ordering items when things get low. This is a great job to devote to a new intern, or if you have a small and dedicated team, you can put a clipboard on the supply room door and make sure that people sign an item when it’s getting low. Either method will help your business make sure that things don’t run out before you have the chance to re-order.

    If you’re going to use the clipboard method, have a simple sign sheet where any employee can write down the item, the date, and the amount left. Have someone check it regularly.

    Alternatively, you could use an automatic ordering service for things that go out of stock on a frequent basis. Plenty of companies offer such a service today, but Amazon remains one of the best in the industry. If you can find the products you need on Amazon for a comparable price to what you’re currently paying, it’s worth spending a few extra pennies (or maybe even a few less!) and set up automatic delivery to your office door. This will ensure you always have a stock of what you need.

    Finally, you can make sure you never run low again by simply keeping an extra "stash" of the most necessary supplies (like a ring of paper). When an employee sees that the supply closet is empty of said item, all you need to do is hand them the extra and order more right away and it's frustration averted.

     

  9. Selecting a Multi-Function Printer for Your Office

    Selecting a Multi-Function Printer for Your Office

    multi-function-printer-control-panelAs with any business investment, it’s important to make certain considerations before putting your organization’s money into a product or tool. Multi-function printers are no exception, and since they will likely remain in your office for many years before being replaced again, the one you choose does matter.

    Any printer should be expected to get frequent usage throughout its run at your office or organization, and a multi-function model would reasonably be expected to experience even more uses each day. That’s why durability and easy maintenance should be the basis for your decision.

    Figure Out What You Need

    Before you delve into the research and buying process, you first need to figure out which features you need on your multi-function printer.

    • Printing: Laser printers will usually be the best choice for most organizations. A laser printer will cost more up-front but it will be cheaper to run in the long-term. On the other hand, an inkjet device is less expensive initially but costs more per-page.
    • Scanning: Most multi-function printers offered today come with relatively good scanners, however, don’t be misled by a manufacturer’s claim about “interpolated resolutions” that promise thousands of dots per inch. This number is inaccurately calculated and you should instead look to the scanner’s “optical resolution” when comparing the quality of the scans.
    • Faxing: With the prevalence of e-mail, the need to fax documents is becoming less and less comment each year, but many organizations still need the feature in their multi-function printer. If it’s a necessity for your office, you need to choose a multi-function printer with the ability to work both as a standalone fax machine and with your computer’s built-in faxing capability.

     

    Compatibility

    The biggest part of any investment is thinking about the long-term. For instance, if your office is planning on upgrading from Windows computers to Mac systems in the next year, it’s worth waiting or looking into a multi-function printer that is known to work well with Mac computers.

    Whether or not you’re looking to upgrade, however, you still need to pay close attention to system compatibility. And, checking a box for the Mac icon or Windows icon simply isn’t enough. For this portion, you really have to do some research into the specific model you’re considering and ensuring that it will work properly with the computer systems your office runs. Just because a box label claims it is Windows, Mac, and Linux compatible doesn’t mean it is. In fact, multi-function printers are typically built to work best with one particular system, and this information can be revealed by the manufacturer's manual and/or reviews of the model you’re looking at.

    Final Considerations

    Finally, the last piece of information that’s going to be a determining factor in your multi-function printer purchase is how much you should be expected to pay for repairs, and how often maintenance will be needed. You can look to the manual to get an idea of how efficient the machine may be, and you should also take warranties into account before making your final decision.

  10. Single Function vs. Multi-Function Printers

    Single Function vs. Multi-Function Printers

    single-function-or-multi-function-printers

    Once you dive into the process of choosing the right printer for your business, you might be easily overwhelmed with the myriad of options out there. However, when it comes to the basic decision of single function vs. multi-function, you should be able to work through it pretty easy once you compare the pros and cons of each.

    Single Function Printers

    A single function printer is basically a one trick pony. Your single function printer will print you as many files as you need, and that’s about it.

    The pros:

    • You aren’t paying for features you don’t need. Therefore, the up-front investment will be lower.
    • Your printer is good for one thing only: printing. This can increase uptime and lower maintenance costs.
    • You have two options to consider within the single function printer group: inkjet or laser.

    The cons:

    • If you decide you do need some other functions, you will have to make room (and fork over extra money) for additional equipment.
    • Single function only.

     

    Multi-Function Printers

    For many offices, you might want more than a basic printing unit. If you need a copier, scanner, printer, and/or fax machine, you could benefit by getting all of these features packed into one unit.

    The pros:

    • You’ll save money purchasing a multi-function printer up-front compared to purchasing multiple pieces of equipment. You’ll also save on energy in the long run by plugging one device in instead of three or four.
    • Multi-function printers will also help you save office space, which is perfect for tight areas.
    • Rather than having to set up and connect multiple devices to the network, a multi-function printer will save you some hassle because you will only need to connect one.

    The cons:

    • If one part of the unit goes down, it’s all going to go down. This can increase downtime and maintenance costs.
    • The unified structure that gives you all the benefits of a multi-function printer also poses another downfall: if you ever want to upgrade your scanner, you’ll have to upgrade the entire unit, or buy an additional scanner that will take up added space and make your multi-function printer slightly redundant.

    Comparing Your Options

    As with everything, there are pros and cons to be faced when making a decision on which printer is best for your office. Space and the up-front cost will perhaps be two of the biggest considerations, but you should also factor in long-term convenience and usability. If you need a printer and scanner but you do not foresee your business making frequent use of a copier or fax machine, you might fare better by investing in two separate pieces of equipment.

    On the other hand, if you are certain your business will regularly make use of most of the features a multi-function printer has, it might be the right option for you. Again, consider the amount of space you have and the upfront costs. Even with the above factors considered, purchasing a multi-function printer will typically beat out buying separate equipment.