Where once a small business was on a first-name basis with the local printing shop for its advertising needs, contemporary computers and printers can now see promotional projects through from design to completion. Once you decide to prepare business cards and fliers in-house, there are features to consider when choosing a printer. Major printer manufacturers all offer a range of options.
Modern inkjet printers, which are affordable and can be set up quickly, can handle short print runs of perhaps 50 business cards or one-page flyers. The ink itself has some drawbacks, however, as consumer inks tend to fade quickly compared to laser toner. Inks are also water-soluble. This means your beautiful flier becomes a psychedelic abstract on contact with moisture, so don't distribute them outside on rainy days. Even the most affordable inkjets, however, accept thick paper stock easily, allowing you to use perforated business card sheets available at business supply stores. Printing is usually slower than laser printers, but without warm-up times.
For printing speed and permanence, laser printers outperform inkjets, making lasers suitable for print runs over 50 sheets. Desktop models have many of the same paper-handling features as their inkjet counterparts. Black-only laser models are suitable for some business cards, but may limit your options for flier design. Color models are more expensive, but with similar full-color performance to inkjets.
Contemporary office copiers have become the full-featured big brothers of the tabletop laser printer and offer the highest-volume printing capacity along with the other advantages of laser printing. If your office already has a color copier, it may be your solution for fliers and business cards. Some models include staplers and folding options for creating booklets and tri-fold fliers. While large volume copiers usually have paper thickness adjustments, the complex paper path may not be suitable for use with perforated business card products.
Beyond the Printer
Preparing promotional materials requires more than just printing. Business cards can be printed on card stock through any style of printer, though individual cards must be cut to size. Hand-cutting is time-consuming and usually doesn't give a professional result. If you want your flyer design to print to the edge of the paper, you need borderless printing capability, where ink and toner cover paper to the edge. Don't forget to budget time to cut your fliers, if you print more than one per page.
A full-time content creation freelancer for over 12 years, Scott Shpak is a writer, photographer and musician, with a past career in business with Kodak.