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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #721: New Printers

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 816 days ago 926 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 720: Keeping Things in Balance Part 721 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 721: New Printers »

All was quiet yesterday and all went well. I spent the majority of the day working on cleaning up the files on my computer as well as backing things up. It was the grand finale of my organization stage of the game and I feel pretty good that not only is everything in order, but duplicated on an external drive. It has been a while since I have done that and while I back up the main PDF pattern files much more frequently, I don’t do the entire system very often.

One thing of note that may be of interest to everyone is that I am looking into a new printer. While my little Canon Pixma IP4700 is still doing a great job, it will only be a matter of time before I wear out the print head with the volume that I am doing for the pattern packets. It has had a couple of ‘hiccups’ in the past few days, and while it has served me well, I am afraid that it is nearing the end of its life and I want to be prepared when that happens and have a new one waiting in the wings.

I only paid about $75 CDN for the printer, and actually we went through a couple of them over the past three years. Between printing several hundred highly saturated color catalogs and thousands of sheets recently for these patterns that I am wholesaling, I feel I more than got my money’s worth out of it. I currently use a bulk ink system for this printer which I found on Ebay several years ago. You can read about the system here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAN-INK-SYSTEM-CISS-cis-Canon-IP4700-CLI-221-/150390285568?pt=BI_Toner&hash=item2303f5a500#ht_1912wt_1163

I have ordered from this gentleman several times and the service is great. He now offers free shipping on everything too, which makes things even cheaper. These ink systems are the way to go if you are printing with these little printer, and I can’t recommend them enough. There are many, many different systems available for many types of printers and the cost of the initial system is less than ONE full set of cartridges. The refill ink cost little over one single cartridge and with one additional set of bottles, I have been able to print probably about 15,000 + full color pages of my painting patterns (complete with step by step photos.) That brings my cost of printing per pattern to literally pennies.

I know I sound like I am doing a commercial for these systems, and in essence I am. Lots of times people ask me what I use and especially in the past couple of months when I showed the piles of patterns for one order in the blog, people wondered how I could print so many copies so cheaply. I can’t say enough good about these systems and while it does take a couple of minutes to set things up and get them working, once that is done, it is really as simple as refilling the ink storage chambers and carrying on.

Unfortunately, the IP4700 isn’t available anymore. Like anything electronic, it has a relatively short life span. They make a model of something for a short period of time, and then discontinue it. I think they do this to keep us on our toes and buying new things all the time, as the newer models are not necessarily faster or last longer, they just need different cartridge sizes.

However, we found a new printer that is quite comparable to the IP 4700. It is again by Canon and is the Pixma IP 4920 model. It is almost identical to the IP 4700 in performance and features and is on sale at NCIX for only about $75.

http://ncix.com/products/?sku=67739

It also has an ink system available from the place where I currently get my ink. I think I want to invest in it so I have one on hand when this one no longer works. To me, it is a small price to invest in something that I know I will eventually need.

Thinking ahead like this will be something that I will be grateful for in the future. Since the Artist’s Club is going to take two more of the designs that I have done, it is inevitable that I will be doing lots of printing. My painting patterns average approximately 20 pages each, and up to this point (in the last month and a half) I have had nearly 1000 of these patterns ordered. Since the patterns ordered so far are of Halloween designs, they still have a long life ahead of them, as many people aren’t even thinking of Halloween until the end of summer or beginning of fall. I can see doing quite a bit more of these in the next several months. Add to that the two new Christmas designs and it appears that the year will be filled with printing. It is just a good decision on my part to be prepared and have several printers on hand. It would even be nice to have two of them printing at once and getting that part of the job done that much sooner. I can’t see how I could go wrong.

I am excited that the business is growing like it is. It is wonderful for me to be able to expand things in these difficult economic times. While doing this type of production work takes up more time than designing, I am very happy that I have that avenue to follow and I am happy for all the new customers it brings to my business.

Today I will be finishing up the written instructions for the holiday projects for the magazine. I want them waiting for my editor when she arrives at work tomorrow. Then I am clear to continue on with my other work.

I am looking forward to getting a lot done today. I hope you all have a fun one too. Do something wonderfully creative and have a great day!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



9 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6647 posts in 2612 days


#1 posted 816 days ago

Hello Sheila,

I’m glad you mentioned the replacement printer model. I bought an all in one printer about six months ago, and have printed about 4,000 pages on it. (I don’t normally print that much in a short time span, but I needed to print out the entire email series from my patent attorney, in triplicate). Now it refuses to print my Ezee-Feed logo on my letterhead. It prints a solid block of black instead.

The model is an HP, Officejet 6500. Surprisingly, it only took 2 cartridges to print out all those pages. But it seems to me to be a rather short lifespan.

Have you given any thought as to what you will do as the business continues to grow. Sooner or later it might just out grow what you and Keith are able to handle? I’m not trying to start you on a panic, but it sounds as though you should be starting to come up with a plan while there is time to do it. Having to decide these things under the pressure of being in the middle of it is no fun at all. And usually extremely inefficient. (that’s where some of those elephant footprints came from). Most small businesses go through at least one “too big to be small”, but “too small to be big”, phase. And they usually happen during the above growth spurt.

And in your business, YOU are a big part of everything. Can you trust someone else to create designs for you? As a business grow, some of the duties will take you away from the very thing you loved so much, and prompted you to go into business in the first place. For me, it was often a matter of passing through the shop, on my way to a meeting or jobsite. Never actually doing any woodworking. The stuff I love to do, I don’t have time to do. Sometimes I think I should do woodworking on the side… kind of like a hobby. I have the tools for it. LOL

Marketing is another area I find to be difficult to control. I am always pushing to expand the business, but find myself holding back at the same time. What amounts to pushing and pulling at the same time. We all want to grow our business, but not so much that we won’t be able to handle it, should you over do it. Very tricky.

Not trying to start a panic. More reviewing things in my own head.

Have a good day.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7591 posts in 1552 days


#2 posted 816 days ago

Oh, I see exactly where you are at, Lee. Many of the same things are going through my own head. Thank goodness I have Keith here with me. Until I met him just over three years ago, everything WAS on my shoulders. He had never had any real experience with a scroll saw before besides using his dad’s ‘relic’ of a saw (pinned blades, I think) to cut out the odd pieces he needed to build his sound systems. I am so fortunate that he showed an interest and I am not embellishing at all when I say he took to all aspects of it like the proverbial ‘duck to water.’ Not only did he cut, but he quickly picked up on the Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat programs that I use regularly in designing patterns. He also has a wonderful grasp of the English language, which so many people today lack, and in a very short time, fell into being my partner in every aspect of the business.

I know it appears that I am gushing about him, but with you owning your own business, you can understand how difficult it is to find someone who has the same drive, ambitions and level of work that you do. It is rare indeed. Keith does prefer to stay behind the scenes, and therefore I am the designated PR girl of the company. But over the years I have seen him participate more and more in things. He love writing informational articles and has done several for both the site and the magazine and has more in the works. I see him evolving into quite a force in the business. And it is quite a relief for me, as it sure does help to share the burden of the day to day as well as keeps me inspired and focused.

Beyond Keith, I do have a great friend who can help with the production part of things if they get out of hand. He has been a friend for over 15 years and I believe he will do a job that is well within my standards and I trust him completely. So I am watching out for things and hoping to continue to grow.

I just received my first big paycheck for the first wholesale order I completed last month. I paid for the supplies and as much as I would like to see it sit (and grow) my savings account, I know that it is better for me to reinvest it into the business in the form of this backup printer (or printers, if you will.) You are absolutely right in saying that making decisions in the midst of things clouds them. I would hate to have a large order and then have to wait for printers or ink systems to be ordered and shipped if and when this one fails. I think having them ready to use is like purchasing an insurance policy, and for a couple hundred dollars investment, it is well worth it because it isn’t a question of IF it will fail, it is a question of WHEN. I hope you go to the sites I linked and see what you think about those systems. They may be just the ticket for you and your business. At one time I was considering an $800 printer, but I feel that I could by 10 of these for that price and I will certainly not get 10 times the use of the $800 one. Not the way things are made these days. Besides – by the time these die, there will be other and perhaps more improved models. So for $75 for approximately 50,000 copies, I think I am doing pretty good.

Sorry to be so long on the reply. As always, I enjoy hearing your perspective and take your advice very seriously.

Take care and have a great day, Sheila

One more thought – (added on after first posted) I don’t get “all in one” printers. I figure for $75 I would rather have less functions that work better than have several functions that are made even cheaper. While I realize that these machines all make the companies money when we purchase the ink, I would still rather have a machine that ONLY prints so that whatever money and time they do put to designing it, it is focused on the printing, not the other. I do have a Canon all in one that I only use for scanning. I don’t even have ink in it but it works well for that function and my daughter gave it to me when my old scanner died after 8 years. But you may want to consider only single function machines. :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7591 posts in 1552 days


#3 posted 816 days ago

OK – I something is weird with the blog today. There seems to be duplicate posts and I am getting responses on both. I am copying and pasting Bob’s comment here.

From Knot Curser (Bob)

Sheila,

Nice to know you are “settling down” and getting back to the norm.

Have you guys ever thought about purchasing a laser printer? Unless you have looked lately, you probably think they are really expensive, huge and difficult to operate – they are just the opposite!

A month or so ago I purchased a Brother HL-2270DW Compact Laser printer from Amazon and WOW am I pleased with it!!!! It was less than a hundred dollars, is REALLY compact and being it’s wireless I was able to put it anywhere I liked in my house and it prints flawlessly! You can get toner cartridges for it for around 20 dollars and they will print 4000+ pages each. As long as you are OK with black and white printing, this is the way to go – especially with the volume you print! :-)

One other fantastic benefit is when you print patterns on an ink jet, they will smear and rub off onto your fingers at times. Not so with a laser printer! Bonus!

Don’t get me wrong – we ALL have need for a color printer. I now use my color printer only once or twice a week though.

Something to think about, I guess.

Bob

—Man is a tool-using Animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all. – Thomas Carlyle http://www.ffrf.org

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7591 posts in 1552 days


#4 posted 816 days ago

Hi, Bob:
I would love to go laser, but I do need color for the patterns I am printing. Since they are painting patterns, it is really important to have the step by step color pictures so that people can follow along and learn. I do appreciate you mentioning your Brother Laser printer though because there are probably others who are looking for good solutions to print that don’t need color. My son had a brother printer and loved it. If the time comes when I need a printer that doesn’t need to be color, I will certainly consider it. Perhaps that would even be one that would work for Lee. :)

Thanks for the input. I appreciate it a lot! :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7591 posts in 1552 days


#5 posted 816 days ago

Here is a response from TorqNut:

Hey, Sheila. I have been following your blog without commenting up to this point because I don’t have a scroll saw and have not reached the stage in my woodworking development to do other than read, listen and watch.

Having said that, I would like to ask if you have considered a MFP (multi-function printer) instead of a dedicated printer. I would like to reccommend the HP Officejet 4620 e-All-in-One Printer – this is a printer, copier, scanner, and FAX machine that is wireless as well. Hewlett-Packard (HP) retails them for $100.

As Bob stated earlier, something to think about.

—TorqNut, Charlotte, NC

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7591 posts in 1552 days


#6 posted 816 days ago

Hi, Torqnut:

Thanks for your comment. I am glad you read along even though you don’t have a scroll saw. I try to talk about the every day business stuff that affects people in all aspects of woodworking and woodworking business. While I realize that some of the stuff is specialized and related to scroll sawing, much of the information that I receive from others can be applied to all areas of woodworking.

I do have a mulit-function printer, and use it mostly for its scanning feature. I find that although there are ink systems available for these types of printer, I like to keep the workhouse printer as a separate entity. The way I figure, the less functions – the less to go wrong with it. Although I do like the one I have. HP is a great company too. I have had a lot of good experiences with their printers and also their scanners. They have (or at least had) great customer service when I had their scanner. I do find that they tend to have more higher end printers and I may look to them in the future.

Thanks so much for your input here. I think having many perspectives helps all involved and gives us all a better idea of what people have had success with.

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6647 posts in 2612 days


#7 posted 816 days ago

You’re right Sheila, I will look into the printer Bob mentioned. My last printer was about $900.00. But it would print 17” x 19” photos. My portfolio was put together using the pics from it, so it was worth every penny. I hated to see it go.

Thank you;

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

1518 posts in 866 days


#8 posted 813 days ago

Hi Sheila,
I just stumbled into your blog because scrolling interests me and have done some in the past. I’m also an IT tech as in CNE (certified network engineer) for about 25 years so have lots of experience with printers. There are two basic schools of thought. Go expensive and minimalistic on features to get durability or go cheap and have multiples. I’ve used both methods and learned that in your situation either could work, but the expensive with minimalistic features (single purpose) with a backup duplicate available is probably the most cost effective. Have you considered color laser? They have come down sharply in price. Get the ones with separate cartridges for efficiency of toner. They are very durable and very fast.
I have no place in my heart for the “multifunction” machines. In my experience, every one (twelve total) failed early and when one part goes, they all go. There is no reasonable repair option. I have a 15 year old IBM BW laser that still functions on an older PC, but it was a pricey business model. Never repaired. Now toner carts are harder to get. I’d say that was cost effective.
Printer mfrs want your money through the supplies, so they build cheap printers that use expensive supplies. If I were doing it, I’d get two of the best office printers I could afford using one for backup, or better yet, load sharing. Printers are rated for durability by volume of printing. Check the MTBF (mean time before failure) ratings too, usually available by request. Their lives can be shortened by overload, just like people.
Dan

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL http://www.kragerwoodworking.weebly.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7591 posts in 1552 days


#9 posted 812 days ago

Hi, Dan:
(Sorry for the late response, but I missed seeing your post yesterday!)
What you say makes lots of sense. I will probably go with the ‘cheap and multiple’ plan (at least for now) I have looked into some laser printers, and while the cost is lower than what it used to be, most of them are lacking in the quality of printing graphics. This is a large part of these patterns because they are step-by-step painting instructions and most of the patterns have 35-40 color photographs. It is quite important to have a printer with accurate color output because of this. The laser printers I looked at were compared on PC magazine’s site. The cost per page also was a bit higher (3.2 to 17.8 cents per page) which was also a consideration. I haven’t figured out the exact cost of printing with on my Canon printer with the CISS system, but the full set of ink costs only $30 shipped and we printed over 10,000 pages with one set of ink. These were the patterns with the color photos. At a cost of $75 per printer, we figure it is probably cheaper for us to get the Canons with the ink refill system ($69 shipped, and can be used on more than one printer) than take a risk on a cheaper laser printer (we really can’t afford a higher end one) Even if we go through several Canons, we are still better off than investing in a laser printer that may not preform to what we need. It is a good thing to think about though as they improve and we will definitely keep watch in the future to see how they develop.

We will definitely check the MTBF rating too. I am sure that will help in our decision.

Thanks so much for the input. It is always helpful to learn more about these things, as they do change so rapidly it is sometimes difficult to keep up with them. I will certainly keep everyone posted on what we finally decide on, and also how it works for our purposes.

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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