The world runs on paper - even as technology has driven business to the web, business is still conducted on paper. According to a survey by Sage for Huffington Post, 13 percent of small businesses still use paper for calenders, 32 percent for projects, and 23 percent for time tracking.

For the entrepreneurial minded, however, printer technologies can be an absolute minefield of various systems, techniques, and applications. Which system to choose depends entirely on your needs, as each printer class and type will present a unique set of benefits and drawbacks.

Connected or Non-connected?

When choosing printers, the connectivity of the printer should be the first concern. Modern printers offer a range of features and levels of connectivity, and determining the daily use requirements of your office printers will narrow down your choices significantly.

Internet-enabled printers are best used for large campuses and multi-office use, as they allow for printing remotely; these often offer WiFi connectivity, allowing for wireless printing. Direct only printers, also known as USB printers, connect only to a single computer, though they often also offer support for USB hubs on routers. Network-enabled printers connect through the use of standard ethernet, and allow anybody on the office hub to connect and print.

If you require access by multiple users, network-enabled printers may be your best bet; otherwise, direct or USB printers for single computer use is a good choice.

Method of Printing

The method of printing on each device is just as varied as their method of connectivity. Modern printers offer a range of methodologies for output, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Laser and LED Printers utilize a high-powered laser or light source to create a negative electrostatic charge on something called a toner drum, which then attracts toner (which is simply a powdered ink) and deposits it on your page, using the heat generated to seal the ink before outputting it to the user. Though this is a quick and convenient type of printer, toner cartridges can be expensive.

Dye-sublimation Printers use actual dye in the complex process of printing. Because of this, it is typically the most expensive of printer types, but outputs very high definition, high quality images. Likewise, thermal printing uses heat to thermally change the color of paper, and while this is the cheapest method, it is extremely low resolution and is typically used for receipts, not documents.

Inkjet and solid ink printers work using ink cartridges. While this method has a "middle-of-the-road" cost, it is the least ecologically viable, as ink is non-recyclable, and results in highly toxic byproducts in the manufacturing process.

How to Choose

The process of choosing a printer technology comes down to what exactly you need from it. If color printing is required, inkjets and direct ink printers are a viable option, though they are somewhat expensive and environmentally dangerous. If color quality is of no concern, laser and LED printers are a prime choice. For photographic printing, dye-sublimation is a common choice.

Contact a company like Bircham's to get office equipment like printers and copiers for your business.