After starting a coworking space in Toronto with one of those big commercial printers that stand four feet tall and spits out 90 pages a minute I knew that’s not what I wanted for my second space, Creative Density. The big fancy printer was impressive but had complicated controls, needed a separate computer for wireless printing, required a maintenance man to fix really any problem, and was an electricity hog. Ew.

Plus, it’s not what my community needed. It was a selling point my partner thought we would get members with. Wrong.

The community wanted:

    • Easy to use
    • Wireless printing that worked most of the time
    • Scanning was easy enough
    • Quiet
    • Something they could trouble shoot themselves

I wanted:

    • Easy to explain to new members
    • Didn’t use too much expensive ink
    • Easy to maintain
    • Not too expensive to buy
    • Wish list: Affordable, large paper holder, lots of ways to print to the printer

I started off Creative Density in 2011 with a simple home use Epson 625 all-in-one for $175. It had wireless printing and traditional ink cartridges. As we grew over the years coworkers were printing more and the ink started to only last a few weeks costing me $60 to replace them every time. I has a decision to make. I could go broke or start monitoring people’s usage and add rules to being a member.

Welcome the Epson ET-4550 EcoTank. It’s my latest technology love and money saver of Creative Density Coworking.

I learned about the Epson ET-4550 in a Wall Street Journal technology review describing how the company is flipping the formula around. Epson will actually charge $450ish for the printer and make money off the printer instead of the ink. Music to my ears. I bought it within a week and I haven’t fallen out of love with in after 18 months. It’s saved me probably $420 already in ink and I have another 15 months worth of ink left from the original purchase.

Besides the ink here are a few other things I have done with the printer to make it super awesome for our coworking community of 50 members.

Connecting to the Printer Options:

    • Set up wireless printing directly on the network
    • Wireless print through Google Cloud Print (you can set print limits with this solution)
    • Email to Print through Epson Cloud Print
    • USB cable plug in

Print Quality:

  • Good enough, not awesome but great

Scanning, this always seems to be harder then it needs to be:

    • USB to computer scan, this doesn’t always work.
  • Scan to email, this is a simple backup option through Epson Cloud
  • This is where Epson could improve the most.

Things I don’t like:

    • Scanning is still hard
    • It doesn’t hold that much paper
    • AirPrint isn’t an option or at least easy to set up
    • It can be slow to print at times

The Epson EcoTank line so far as been the best solution for printing at our coworking space and I bet fits the needs of most coworking spaces under 10,000 sq. ft. Your community most likely aren’t heavy printers so ease of use is probably all you need. Pay the higher price of $450 up front and reap the return for years to come.