Line Matrix Printers

Cost of Ownership Makes Line Matrix Printer Technology A Clear Winner!

Although there is a considerable focus today around cost per page due to the increasing adoption of managed print services, there is little focus on understanding printer ownership’s total cost.

When purchasing a new vehicle, it is in our best interest to focus on acquisition costs and anticipated maintenance costs, life expectancy, function & capability, comfort, safety, emissions, and among other things...

When selecting printers that are to produce the business-critical documents needed for the manufacturing or movement of goods likewise, -it is in the best interests of businesses to consider far more than only the cost per page.

Decision managers of companies required to print moderate to high volumes or amidst harsh environments cannot rely only on cost per page to decide the best technology.

It is necessary to consider the following aspects:

  • Life Expectancy: Printer lifespan based on the company's usage and print requirements.
  • Function & Capability: How the technology will withstand the environmental conditions to which it will be submitted.
  • Day to Day Operation Cost: Aspects of daily use to be considered, such as consumable costs, paper required, user intervention, electricity.
  • Sustainability: The benefits of choosing a more sustainable technology.

Life Expectancy

Most IT personnel would unanimously agree that the longer an asset can last, the better it is- as much time and expense is involved in refreshing installed equipment.

The average lifespan for a business Laser printer is 3-5 years, assuming

  1. Print volumes are on the lower end of the recommended monthly duty cycle,

  2. The environment is climate controlled with virtually no fluctuation in temperature or humidity

  3. The air is free of any airborne contaminants such as dust.

In contrast, a line matrix printer's average lifespan is around 7-10+ years, regardless of environment or monthly print volume.

Function & Capability

For the same reason, it is unwise to haul more payload than a particular printing truck is consistently rated for. Inappropriate printer technology placement will lead to an increasing frequency of downtime and ultimately, premature failure.

Laser printers by design require clean air and precisely controlled temperature as well as humidity for optimal functionality and longevity. Extreme temperatures, or even slight temperature variations, can cause condensation to occur within the device, leading to electrical component failures. Airborne contaminants will build up over time on the rollers and drum, which ultimately cause frequent paper jams and print quality degradation.

Humidity can cause cut-sheet media to curl, which will also lead to paper jams, while static electricity can cause multiple sheets to stick together -again, leading to more paper jams.

Line Matrix Technology is designed to tolerate a much broader range of environmental conditions -as the stored energy, shuttle matrix print engine is virtually impervious to temperature swings, humidity, and airborne contaminants. For this reason, Line Matrix remains the technology of choice for businesses that need to print documents or labels within industrial environments and are unwilling to compromise on output reliability.

Day to Day Operating Cost

From a day-to-day standpoint, the hard operating costs include paper, toner/ribbon, maintenance kits (laser-only), and electricity. The soft operating costs include user efficiency -related to required user intervention.

The laser printer typically gets a win on paper cost, as the cut-sheet paper is more widely used and, therefore, is more competitively priced. Line Matrix is the winner when it comes to energy consumption and non-paper-related consumables -since the consumables cost-per-page of a typical business laser printer is 5-6X that of a Line Matrix printer.

This is the complexity and cost of laser toner cartridges which contain chemical toner and several other components, including rollers, blades, and a toner waste bin. As for soft costs, both Laser or Line Matrix could win since both have unique advantages. In some cases, a laser may be favored if the business prefers to deal with separate cut sheets of paper. However, in other cases, continuous form-media holds an intrinsic value in maintaining the order of printed sheets and the integrity of a multi-page document.


10-15 years ago, sustainability didn't enjoy the kind of focus it does today; however, currently, most large enterprises have dedicated Sustainability Officers whose sole objective is to ensure that the company is engaged in proactive initiatives to minimize the total environmental impact. Even though Line Matrix may be perceived by many to be an old technology, it remains the most sustainable method of printing from the standpoint of:

  1. Energy consumption – 30% less than a typical business laser printer
  2. Longevity – 2-3X the lifespan of the laser
  3. Far fewer chemicals & materials are used in the manufacturing of consumables – Printronix Line Matrix Cartridge Ribbons consist only of a plastic housing (made from 100% recycled plastic resin), ribbon fabric, ink & gears
  4. Considerably fewer consumable wastage


In summary, Laser and Line Matrix printers each have their strengths and weaknesses; however, for moderate to high volume print requirements, Line Matrix is the clear winner, regardless of an office or industrial environment -from the standpoint of lifetime operating cost and environmental impact cost. When printing within industrial environments, Line Matrix's lead will be significantly higher considering the ecological forces that will likely cause premature failure of laser technology devices.


Laser printers were the first choice of many industries for a very long time. With advancement in technology, Line Matrix printers have now enjoyed a change of perspective within viable printing technologies. By comparing all significant features like durability, readability, flexibility, quality in printing, speed, etc Line Matrix printers have successfully surpassed every criterion that a laser printer used to stand for. In addition to this, laser printers cannot perform multiple copy prints simultaneously, whereas Line Matrix printers are known for consistently pressing out multiple ones at a fast rate.
Line Matrix printers are used for heavy-duty printing. These printers are manufactured for high-speed printing. Unlike other printers, Line Matrix printers can print multiple copies at a time while preserving and delivering the best quality. Line Matrix printers are primarily preferred by printing companies or sectors where a large amount of daily printing is done. They are one of the most adaptable types of printers that perfectly fit within any working environment. With a user-friendly interface, these printers are highly preferred by all sectors.
Dot-Matrix printers use a number of pins and wires for printing. On the other hand, Line Matrix printers are impact printers -boasting high printing efficiency along with high speed. Dot-Matrix printer speeds usually touch 375-1100 characters per second, whereas a Line Matrix printer’s performance is measured in lines per minute (revolving around 3000 lines per minute). The speed of a Dot Matrix printer varies, based on the quality of the print. Line Matrix printers, on the other hand, are known for high-quality printing, at high speed.

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