business-equipment-decisions-reasons-your-business-needs-an-envelope-printerIf you’ve ever tried to print envelopes on a standard printer, you know just how frustrating it can be. You insert the envelopes, start printing. Oh no – a paper jam. Not again. Here’s how to stop banging your head against the wall and get back to work.

Buy A Dedicated Envelope Printer

When you print envelopes regularly and send out written communication, it usually makes sense to own a dedicated printer. If you’re willing to invest in the best printer for envelopes, then you’ll not only cut down the time you spend printing, but you’ll have fewer headaches without the high cost of outsourcing the operation.

Newer AMS envelop addressing printers are very fast, and operate much better than standard printers. So, the price you pay for the performance is almost always superior than what you’d get from a standard paper printer.

Some of the better ones on the market will print 30,000 enveloped in an hour. That’s fast. And, because of the way the paper is fed into the printer, jam rates are inherently low – low by design.

Choose The Right Type

But, you can’t just walk into a printer store and expect to buy a top-of-the-line envelope printer. And, you can’t use a standard printer to print envelopes either.

Usually, you have to shop online or deal directly with a manufacturer or specialized dealer. There are a few different ways these machines print, and you should be familiar with the basics:

Fixed print heads – These printers have one or multiple print heads that don’t move. The envelope moves under the heads to print. This results in good high speed performance because the print head doesn’t have to move back and forth, creating a lot of extra moving parts and more things to break.

The downside is that it also becomes its own limitation. If you want to print multiple things on the envelope, like a return address or ad copy on the outside of the envelope, you will need to send the envelope through multiple times.

Shuttle heads – Shuttle head printers have one or two print heads that move back and forth across the envelope. This allows the printer to print everything in one pass. It’s a great option for small runs of less than 10,000 pieces. They’re usually easier to set up and run, but they also operate at lower speeds, which can be a drawback.

Hybrid systems – a hybrid system combines a laser printer or copier with an envelope printer. The printer is modified to accept envelopes, and the result is that a printer that will print envelopes and has extra features like duplex printing, high resolution graphic capabilities, and document printing.

Decide On Your Volume

How much do you need to print each month? If your run is over 10,000, consider a fixed head printer. These will give you the performance you need. As long as you don’t have complex print jobs, you should be fine.

If your needs aren’t quite as robust, and you need a more versatile printer, opt for the shuttle head. Note that these may jam up on you more often or be slower at printing than fixed heads. However, they’re still pretty reliable and are user-friendly.

The hybrid systems are basically for those with specialized needs, like if you need special ad copy or graphics printed on your envelopes.

Every manufacturer will publish a maximum run or speed for the printer. This clues you in to how much you’ll get out of an ink cartridge or toner (if it’s a hybrid system).

Make Sure It Can Print At The Thickness You Require

Check the specs on the printer before you buy. Even entry-level envelope printers will handle 1/16th of an inch paper, sufficient for envelopes. But, if you need to print them after they’re stuffed, go with a printer that can accommodate that. Not all of them can.


Billy Morton is a marketing and branding consultant for small-medium businesses, mostly in the retail sector. His articles on branding and marketing, both digital and print, appear on a range of business blogs around the web.

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