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Color Laser Printer suggestions for an invitation business

Nov 24, 2007 10:44PM PST

I'm wondering if anyone can give me some recommendations for a high quality, reasonably priced color laser printer. I'm starting an invitation and card business and need something to print the cards from. I've spoke with a few other people that have the same business and most print their cards right from their own printer. The two names that keep coming up are Canon and Rikoh but I don't see any reviews here on those two brands. I bought a lexmark black & white laser printer years ago to make cards with so I could run vellum through it and it never fed right, even regular paper would jam or feed 20 sheets threw at a time. Lemark got high reviews here from cnet but not from users so i'm not eager to go with another Lexmark. So what I need is something that prints high quality in both color & black/white for text & graphics...speed is not as important, but feeding is....I do not want to have to stand there and individually feed every sheet. I need something that can handle card stock and vellum, as well as smaller print sizes, 3x5 cards, but it does not have to be larger than 8.5x11 if it does that's a plus. And of course prices is always important. I am using a mac platform, leopard operating system.
Thanks for any suggestions Happy

Discussion is locked

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One requirement you forgot to tell.
Nov 24, 2007 10:55PM PST

The monthly volume.

The HP 9500, for example, is designed for 5.000 to 25.000 pages a month (not recommended to go to the maximum of 200.000, it seems). Assuming it lasts 3 years, that's 900.000 pages (36*25.000) for $ 6.000 or less than 1 cent depreciation per page. Doesn't sound too bad (of course, there's maintenance and toner also).

But you might prefer one of the lower-end printers from
Or even another manufacturer.

Also note that there are offerings of printer leases against an all-in price per copy, including everything. That's like leased cars. No investment, and if it's broke the repair is included also. Might be interesting for a starting business.


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Oops...that requirement would be helpful.
Nov 25, 2007 5:02AM PST

oh, not nearly that many prints. I would guess between maybe 500-1000 prints, 1000 being generous. This is a business I am just starting so I need to get the clients first Happy I forgot about the leasing option....but would it be worth it for the amount of prints I would be making? I will check out the lower end printer link that you sent. Thanks Happy

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I would definitely stay away from HP
Nov 25, 2007 10:49PM PST

They would eat up any profit on the cost and frequency of consumables. Many of my clients are changing toner when they are nowhere near half the number of pages that HP quotes with the same coverage.

The first thing to do is to determine whether you need postscript or not. Genuine Adobe postscript printers are expensive, while others will have a "postscript translator" which isn't as good, especially when printing postscript fonts. Second, try to get test prints from the printers you are considering. If possible arrange a demo so that you can test the paper you want to use in them. Some printers are very finicky about what paper you can use in them due to the fuser. Some paper might not do so well in printers which run very hot fusers, so check that out. If you buy a printer without doing that you may end up having to buy very expensive paper to get the results you want on it and that might kill your pricing. Third, find out how much consumables, maintenance and service are going to cost you. Show samples of what you want to do on it so that the reps can give you an accurate cost per page, that way you have a starting point on what your costs are going to be on printing.

Hope that helped.

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Still need some help
Nov 26, 2007 8:41AM PST

So i'm not really familiar with laser toner different than the colored cartridges??

Thank your for the suggestions. I will definitely keep them in mind when I can narrow it down to a few brands. If you say stay away from HP....anyone like canon or ricoh??

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Printer help
Nov 26, 2007 12:39PM PST

I am also in the invitation printing business. I have bought several different hp printers. I bought the hp3600 laser jet and it curled the card stock. It also made black streak marks on the card stock. It handled regular paper well. I ended up sending it back to hp. The toner was $80 each. I currently have an hp officejet Pro K550 (inkjet). It handles the heavy card stock well, graphics print beautifully, but the ink smears. I am still looking for the perfect printer. Good luck!

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Xerox Phaser 6180 or 6130????
Nov 27, 2007 11:18AM PST

So i'm thinking of a Xerox Phaser 6180n...or possibly the 6130n. I don't really see the difference besides speed. Does anyone have any input on these?

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Check the Toner Price!
Nov 30, 2007 12:48PM PST

6180 got a slightly higher score in most IT journal reviews.
Perhaps, 400 MHZ CPU of 6180 has better performance than 333 MHZ CPU of 6130. Based on MacReview, phaser 6180 may be worth to invest for your business for better performance and picture quality.

However, updated version of phaser printers cost much more than previous versions. Because both HP and Xerox reduced their toner capacity from up to 10000 pages (eg Phaser 740) to 2000 pages (Phaser 6130 & 6180), you need to pay $350 for genuine toner set of 6180 and $300 for 6130 (2000 printing 5%).

For me, I have two old color laser jet printers: Phaser 740 and HP color laserjet 4500. Both printers are slow (~2.5 actual ppm color) and little bit noisy but the color qualities are as great as updated phasers and most of all, the price of consummables are extremely cheap in eBay (eg: fuser of HP 4500 costs less than $60 but you can print up to 100K with one fuser. 4 toner set of both HP4500 (6K pages) and Phaser 740 (10K) are less than $100 at eBay.).

In conclusion, if you buy color laser printer first time, choose 6180, register your 1-yr warranty card, and learn how to manage color laser with free Xerox AS help. Better user management can increase printing capacity 500+ page more. On the contrary, if you are experienced color laser printer user and do not want to pay for high cost consummables, check eBay or local Craigslists and buy well maintained pre-owned color laser printer. You can upgrade 128MB printer RAM for $50 or less, and you can buy any part of Phaser with small part of AS fee.

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Toner = ink.
Nov 29, 2007 11:58PM PST

There's black and the printer needs to mix a few basic colors (like cyan, magenta and yellow) to print them all.


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Any luck yet?

I'm wondering if you had picked a printer yet? I've been looking for one for the same purpose for a few months and have not yet found one that I love.

I have seen print samples from a Ricoh 811 on card stock ... print quality itself was so bad that it didn't even matter that it could accept card stock.

What I've found so far ... Xerox 7400 and the Oki 9600 I have been told are actually the same printer inside with different interfaces. Both have excellent print quality, will take and print well on up to 105 lb metallic card stock (Stardream). BUT BUT BUT both print a light gray haze on heavy stock, over the whole page. Konika 7450 print quality was very nice but still not up to the Xerox, and the toner did not fuse onto 105lb metallic paper. (I know that's out of the printer's spec range, but it's what I need anyhow). And the Ricoh didn't even compare.

I'm realizing that having access to a Xerox DocuColor 240 at the office has completely spolied my prining expectations. So if anyone knows a printer that prints just as well at a tenth of the price ... that's what I'm looking for.

If you have any new information, please share!

It seems that most reviews and even the sales folks do not understand our needs are different from most offices. Everyone tries to impress me with print speeds, processing time, and how much paper the trays can hold. I care about everything BUT that... graphics print quality, font handling and paper handling such as truly heavy card stock and custom paper sizes.

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Still no luck yet
Jan 1, 2008 3:18AM PST

Thank you for the information. It always helps to hear what others have tried. I will keep researching as well. Thank you.

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What about Inkjet?
Jan 1, 2008 10:34PM PST

Have you considered the Canon Pixma line? I know you said you need laser, but could inkjet be a possiblity. Take the Canon Pixma iP4300 and you have a straight through feed so the paper doesn't get bent or curled. I know some lasers will curl paper unless it is made for a laser printer.

Just a thought I had

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Jan 2, 2008 6:29AM PST

I am looking into the Canon line of printers. Specifically the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 That may work for me. Does anyone have any feedback on the Canon line? Thanks!

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Re: Canon

I would look into InkJet myself some more, but I'm terribly scared to see how many ink tanks a set of 150 invitations plus enclosures and envelopes eats up. $15 x the 8 ink tanks, depending on how quickly it goes through them could be scary. The last time I used an ink jet to do a one page wedding program in purple ink, I think I went thru 4 or 5 color tanks for 150 sheets of paper. (This was quite a while ago, so I'm really hoping that technology has caught up).

Anyone have feedback on the ink life and does the ink spread or smear at all?

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Re: Canon! Heavy paper - single sheet feed!

I just saw that it takes heavier paper thru a front feed that is for single sheets. Striking it from the list, I can't sit there and hand-feed for 2 hours while a project prints! Darn!

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did you find a printer?
Mar 14, 2008 7:19AM PDT

I have spent the better part of two weeks struggling to find a printer do the same that you are doing. I have decided to outsource my very heavy paper projects/invitations. most items can be printed on 80lb cover (216gsm) and many laser printers say they can take that.

The Ricoh has been so heavily suggested that I am thinking of getting that. but in this string of notes, someone said it was terrrible. And that is really too bad! you are right, they just don't understand our needs.

I have narrowed it down (for today) to the following...
Ricoh 410n (no need for duplex option since it can't do it with the heavier stock)
Konica Minolta 5550

Both can take 216gsm. spoke to someone at and he said that a woman who prints stationery on heavy stock came in and test drove those two and chose the konica over the ricoh.

So I am curious, what did you find out? It's been 2 months and I hope you found something.


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Ricoh or minolta or neither?
Mar 29, 2008 4:53AM PDT


I saw your reply in this email thread. What did you end up getting? Do you like it?

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xerox 8560
May 27, 2008 12:51AM PDT

After spending a week unjamming vellum from my HP inkjet, I finally broke down and purchased the Xerox Phaser 8560. It arrives today and I can't wait to see the results. I'll let you know how it goes!

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xerox 8560
May 27, 2008 11:22PM PDT

k_harms22 I am anxious to see your feedback! I am also leaning towards this printer! Happy

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xerox 8560
May 28, 2008 1:43AM PDT

I bought the 8560 a few months back (about 2 I think) and I have been so happy. it takes everything I feed it....80lb cover, vellum, startdream, labels, etc. everything looks so great too. I love the raised feel to the ink the most.

It has lost connectivity by ethernet 2x, but I was able to have it serviced quickly enough and was able to use the USB connection until it was repaired (one time they were able to fix the problem over the phone!).

so i recommend this printer for sure

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xerox 8560
May 28, 2008 2:48AM PDT

Thanks cindywit!!! Do you leave it on standby all the time? I have read that you must do that or it uses up a lot of ink to power it up. So far, the only negative I have heard is that to leave it on standby it uses about 45 watts. Anyhoo, it looks like I will buy this printer! Again, thanks so much for your review!

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8560 Review
May 30, 2008 4:31AM PDT

Okay, my new Xerox Phaser 8560 is WONDERFUL! The waxy images look very "professional" and it's so easy to load the ink that any preschooler who's figured out how to put those shapes through the lid of the box can do it. So far I've run 5 large jobs on it using 80lb cardstock, vellum, labels, and envelopes. Everything goes through easily, though the envelopes do mis-feed occasionally.

Things to think about, however:
* This printer does not do borderless!!! The print quality is so good that you'll be tempted to want to do full color invites, especially since the ink will not curl the paper...just be prepared to trim off the edges.

* It is very loud when running so you think about it's location.

* I've been having to do a lot of research about color matching because for browns & pinks, what I see on my screen is NOT what comes out. The blues and greens seem to be fine, though. (Anyone who knows what settings to change are welcome to chime in here!!) I've been working around that with trial and error, but hoping to find the correct settings to get them to match more closely so I don't have to waste paper.

Other than that, I am a happy camper. Good luck with your printer searches!!

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8560 review & color fixes
May 30, 2008 4:59AM PDT

i too recently got the 8560DN - duplexer is great for wedding programs!

There are a lot of great things, some bad.

Feeds envelopes great, but if you print on stardream envelopes, it will smudge/rub off when mailed. Not sure about regular envelopes. But, it prints stardream cover stock great (105#) from the manual feed tray.

as someone noted below, it doesn't print borderless, so you need to trim to do your bleeds. My large papercutter has a peice that holds the paper in place - but the pressure of it will offset the ink from one page to the next. So, I tediously have to put scrap sheets between each one before cutting. ugh!

it doesn't always print in the right spot - for instance, I'll put my crop marks at 1" and the design is dead on in illustrator, but will print 1/8" off on the page, which can make this off center when cut. I manually move everything in my artwork before printing.

As for color matching, it's great. It has built-in pantone matching - but don't compare to a real pantone book. There is a download from Xerox that you print out - about 20 pages worth. It will print all the different color combos. (when you create your new documents, you need it to be set to RGB, not CMYK...and for the color mgmt to be set to let the printer decide on postscript colors, not illustrator and to use Pantone Solid Coated even though you may be using uncoated paper). I have my pages that I use to choose what colors and it's dead on. Great resource so you don't waste time playing with as many test prints.

i now have three printers - the 8560, the 6180 so I can print laser on envelopes and an inkjet. My tiny office looks ridiculous!

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Ink spread...
Jan 2, 2008 6:58AM PST

Depends on the paper stock. Not bad enough for me to complain here but your old litho operator will pan it. That is, I have to use a magnifying glass to see it. It's not up to the 3 dollar cards you see at Hallmark.

As to ink costs. I have used the 1 dollar per page metric for years and after paying for ink, paper and printer it has been too close for me to change it. If your clients won't pay the buck a page then it's time to cost out the printing at a print shop.


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I really like my Ricoh C410
Jan 4, 2008 1:33PM PST

This printer is similar to the C411, but a little slower. I had one of the cheaper color laser printers, a Samsung CLP550, but this Ricoh printer has much cheaper consumables (the toner is a simple plastic jug, not a cartridge with rollers, gears, etc. I think the person complaining about the Ricoh printing on card stock did not have card stock chosen in the print driver. This printer came with some features that the Samsung did not. It came with a card with sample print outs and directions to print an internal file for color calibration. It also came with an internal page to print to physically align the print out on the page for all page handling input units (cassette, manual, duplex) very useful you want to duplex stuff and have them line up.

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RE: Ricoh

I actually wondered if this was the case on the sample print that I got. I had sent paper and a file to a reputable printer dealer to get custom samples back. Given the generally good reviews I have seen on Ricohs, I was quite surprised at what came back as a sample. I can't say what options were selected on the printer, but all I sent was card stock, so who knows what they did....

What's the heaviest stock you have tried thru the Ricoh and how did it come out?

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Canon Continous Ink System
Sep 25, 2008 1:15PM PDT

That really is a lot of ink especially if its set in high quality printing. You might want to try to let someone that is very experienced and knowledgable in installing a continous ink tank for this kind of business so you wont need to replace inks every now and then. Try searching google offering this kind of service.

Jane - Proud Writer for All Printer Reviews

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Canon Tanks
Jan 3, 2008 12:50AM PST

Canon has some of the highest volume ink tanks around. The Series 8 cartridges are 13ml each. So if you have just your three colors, it is 39ml of color.

But I can understand how feeding each sheet can not be worth it.

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cannon pixma pro 9000
Jun 1, 2008 1:35PM PDT

I have the pixama pro 9000. It works great! I am in the invitation business and it works on card stock. It is a direct feed. I have had not problems except on metallics! It prints on them fine, where the ink jet wont't, but it will smear if it gets damp. I am looking for a dircet feed laser for the metallics....any suggestions???

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Inkjet and Lasers vs. Printing Press
Aug 31, 2008 12:50PM PDT

Inkjets are great and can have beautiful photo output - but if you're looking to run an invitation business and print on metallic papers or colored cardstock - inkjets are NOT going to work. Paper stocks soak up the ink and can also change the ink's color tone depending on the color of paper you are printing to. They also can bleed or spiderweb your print on the paper. This is most commonly true of metallic paper stock or any with a rough coated texture.

A laser would be a better option if you choose to print them yourself. However, lasers are not all made to really handle cardstock in heavy volumes, and can bend or curl the card stock due to the way they bend through the machine. They can also have ink adhesion issues (ink rubbing off paper/card stock) and feeding problems.

Unless you are able to invest a significant amount of money, there does not appear to be a "desktop" color laser with the same quality of output as the larger printing companies using printing presses and digital presses. It may be fine if you are doing business for friends and family - but be forewarned - you may run into large quality control issues, frustrating feeding issues and/or time and expenses (supplies, etc.) that won't make it worth your efforts.

I hope that helps!

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I chose....
Jan 2, 2008 9:31AM PST

I ended up ordering the Xerox Phaser 6180n. I never considered metallic paper though...that would have been a thought! This is all new to me. I have not done any invitations yet...just holiday cards and I am very pleased with the results...although the printer did get finicky a few times but I think it was actually because I had to few sheets of the card stock in the feeder. That's what i'm guessing. It didn't seem to do that when I had a stack in there. It has a feeder that opens in the front. So far i'm pleased with the text and graphic quality but like I said I have not done that much with it yet. I'm going to try vellum out next...we'll see how it goes.