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Single Pass Vs. Multiple Pass Printing – Which is Best for your Business?

Single Pass Vs. Multiple Pass Printing

The printing process has come a long way from the original presses we’ve relied on for years. The introduction of digital printing not only reduced costs and time needed, but also increased the quality of our prints to the high-quality prints we are familiar with today. Within digital printing, we are starting to see several new technologies that may make it confusing when trying to choose the correct printing equipment for your business’s unique needs. Digital printing has sparked a conversation within the industry turning away from printing on a sheet of paper where it all began toward being able to print on all the incredible substrates we are able to today.

What is Multiple Pass Printing?

Multi-pass printing resembles the inkjet printing found in your home or office printer and is probably the most familiar however, it’s also expanded to the full-width prints we are able to employ today. The printhead moves left-to-right over the substrate while overlapping ink from the ink cartridges to form the final product. They are an economical option for printing on a variety of different materials.

The Benefits of Multi-Pass Printing

Multi-pass printing minimizes the investment that comes with the initial cost (and maintenance) of single-pass print technology. The ink for the print head is often less expensive and more readily available than those used with single-pass printheads.Because the printhead passes multiple times, if a printhead were to malfunction, the next time it passes over it will fix the discrepancy in the print. Later, we will see that the multiple passes are a benefit and a disadvantage.

The Disadvantages of Multi-Pass Printing

If you are looking for prints at the speed of light multi-pass printing may not be for you. The printhead must go over the material several times in order to generate the desired image. The more complicated your final print, the more times it will have to pass over resulting in more time needed versus the amount of time needed in single pass print technology.Another thing to consider with Multi-Pass Printing is the quality of the print. The repetitive layering of ink could muddle the image foregoing the sharp print quality many desire. The ink’s opportunity to smudging as the paper shifts with the layers of printed ink may require extra drying time. Overall, the time needed in multi-pass printing is something to consider when deciding which is best for your business.

What is Single Pass Printing?

Single-Pass printers are a newer printing technology offering quality prints at fast speeds. The multiple printheads used with single-pass are positioned over the substrate while it passes through the printheads. Each colored ink is located in its own drum and allows them to disperse ink simultaneously. This results in the final image passing through just once before being rewound on the other side of the printer.Single pass printing emphasizes the benefits of quick print times without foregoing quality. The single pass of the material through the printhead lays ink finely onto the material offering high color payoff, high quality, and quick dry times for your business.

What are the Disadvantages of Single Pass Printing?

Although single pass printing offers quality sharp prints, the high initial investment needed for multiple printheads is the biggest downfall for single pass printing. For companies trying to move away from multi pass printers, the initial cost of printer heads utilized in single pass printing can be a barrier to moving onto the newer technology.In terms of printer head cleaning, the use of multiple printheads increases the liability that one may clog. If the printhead becomes clogged or isn’t aligned properly you may notice white streaks throughout your prints.

Is Single Pass or Multi Pass Printing better for your business?

The first aspect to consider is the initial capital required. Single Pass machines require significant capital upfront. The reasoning for this is the cost of the printheads required to cover the whole width of the substrate. For wider printing, more printheads are needed which can quickly drive up the initial cost of the technology.Another consideration; arguably more important than capital requirements, is the quantity produced. When producing less than 5 million meters per year, multipass printing would be preferred as single pass printing only returns on investment with large quantities. If producing more than 5 million meters, the operating cost of single pass print machines will return the initial investment put into the technology.Overall, choosing single-pass or multi-pass printing depends entirely on the needs of your business’s specific needs.  Arrow System’s is introducing the ArrowJet Mini a pigmented inkjet printer featuring a single Memjet printhead. It features efficient, cost-effective printing producing up to 60 feet per minute. For more information, check out ArrowJet Mini on our website!

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