The best printers for designers

Whether you work at home or in the studio, here's how to pick the perfect graphic design printer for your needs.
A Canon PIXMA printer prints out a picture of a small blue vase, the inspiration for which is positioned next to it.

As the way we work becomes ever more flexible, it's increasingly important that your home office or studio is equipped with the graphic design tools you need to do your job effectively. For those working in the creative industries, particularly designers, a printer is an essential tool. From proofreading layouts to creating hard copies for client approval and taking care of day-to-day admin, a high-quality printer can save you time and help you win commissions. But what features should you look out for?

Sharp text and design details, smooth gradients, colour fidelity and print-to-print consistency are essential requirements for client proofs. Versatility is another vital printer attribute. As a designer, you may be tasked with producing everything from business cards and flyers to poster-sized prints, so a printer that supports a wide variety of media types and sizes will give you more creative options and mean fewer trips to your local print bureau. Reliability and ease of use are vital qualities too, as are convenience features such as wireless connectivity, automatic paper feeding and fast printing speeds.

To help you decide which professional printing options best suit your needs, we've put together this guide to Canon's creative printing technology. It includes a rundown of top-rated PIXMA printers and cost-saving MAXIFY models, all of which deliver high-quality printing, so you can find your perfect match.

Best home printers for graphic designers

A business flyer emerging from a Canon PIXMA printer.

The Canon PIXMA TS7650i has a colour touchscreen with an innovative Switch UI interface that enables you to tailor functions to your needs, speeding up your workflow.

Some of Canon's latest PIXMA and MAXIFY printers are designed with hybrid working firmly in mind. Compactness, easy setup, useful features and intuitive controls are all key factors, along with cost-effectiveness. The Canon PIXMA TS7650i is a budget-friendly printer that's small enough to fit in tight spaces yet features larger, next-generation print heads for fast print speeds of around 15ipm1 (impressions per minute) and 10ipm for mono and colour documents respectively, complete with enhanced image processing to maximise print quality.

Keeping things simple, it uses just two ink cartridges, both with integrated print heads: a tri-colour cartridge with dye-based inks for superb photo printing, and a pigment-based black cartridge. It is Canon's first 'home printer' to feature smudge-resistant pigment black ink, which stands up well to the use of highlighter pens. Wi-Fi benefits include direct printing and scanning to and from smart devices. The PIXMA TS7750i adds a 35-sheet ADF (Auto Document Feeder) for easy multi-page scanning and copying.

Both models are also compatible with Canon's PIXMA Print Plan, a subscription-based service that monitors your ink levels and delivers new cartridges to your door as soon as it detects that you're running low, giving you savings of up to 50% on standard ink costs.2

As with many other Canon printers, supporting apps include Easy-PhotoPrint Editor for editing photos, as well as creating collages, posters and more using a range of templates, and Canon Easy-Layout Editor for combining, laying out and printing multiple images. The Canon PRINT app gives you real-time updates on your printer's status, ink levels, and enables maintenance tasks, as well as giving options to print, scan and copy direct from your smart device. There's also Canon PosterArtist, with a multitude of customisable templates for creating and printing anything from flyers to posters and banners.

Best graphic design printers for big projects

A Canon PIXMA TS9550 Series printer on a desk next to a laptop, notepad, photographs and pencils.

The Canon PIXMA TS9550 Series printer is capable of producing borderless A3 prints and yet isn't much bigger than a standard A4 printer. © Natasha Alipour

A woman's hand is shown turning over a sheet of paper to demonstrate the two-sided printing capabilities of the Canon PIXMA TS9550 Series.

Automatic two-sided printing and a 20-sheet ADF (Auto Document Feeder) are just two of the many features found on the Canon PIXMA TS9550 Series. © Natasha Alipour

The all-in-one Canon PIXMA TS9550 Series printer takes up much the same space as an A4 printer but it's able to produce borderless A3 prints, and has a host of features that allow designers to be more productive with their time. A 10.8cm LCD touchscreen makes it simple to adjust printing settings, while automatic two-sided printing and a 20-sheet ADF (Auto Document Feeder) for A4 paper reduces the amount of refills you need to carry out. It's a well-connected model too, with both Ethernet and wireless options, and support for AirPrint (iOS) and Mopria (Android) and the Canon PRINT app, so you can print, scan and copy ideas and inspiration straight from your smart device.

Of course, the ultimate test of a printer is the print quality itself, and the Canon PIXMA TS9550 Series uses five individual ChromaLife100 ink cartridges, including a pigment black ink for sharp text plus four individual CMYK dye-based inks, delivering detailed prints with an album life of up to 100 years.3 It supports a wide range of creative media, including glossy, lustre, matte and fine art papers and printable discs. To reduce running costs, high-yield XL cartridges are available in addition to standard-yield options. It's also compatible with Canon's Auto-Ink Delivery service. Sign up to this and you'll receive replacement cartridges to your door whenever they start to run low, avoiding the worry of running out of ink in the middle of an important job.

If you don't need a printer with a built-in scanner, consider the Canon PIXMA iX6850. This similarly compact A3+ printer also uses the same mix of five pigment and dye based inks, while the A3+ PIXMA iP8750 six-ink printer adds an extra grey dye-based ink, increasing the colour gamut and further enhancing mono print quality.

Best printers for low running costs

A Canon PIXMA G6050 printer printing an image of a logo

The Canon PIXMA G6050 is capable of printing up to 18,0004 pages from just three black ink bottles, making it a smart choice for those on a budget. © Jake Baggaley

A person sits at a small desk working on a laptop. On the desk behind the laptop is a Canon PIXMA printer.

The streamlined Canon PIXMA GX1050 is designed to fit right into the home office, being very compact for a MegaTank printer. As with other refillable Canon printers, the ink bottles are individually keyed so each colour can only be poured into the correct tank. A built-in valve prevents over-filling and potential spillage.

For designers who need creative printing solutions for producing a high volume of hard proofs, a model in the Canon PIXMA G Series MegaTank printer range is a very practical option. The Canon PIXMA G6050 has four high-yield refillable ink tanks, and is capable of delivering up to 18,0004 pages from three black ink bottles or 7,700 pages from a set of colour inks. It also boasts a 350-sheet plain paper capacity and automatic duplex printing, so you can spend less time refilling the PIXMA G6050 with paper and ink, and more time taking care of the creative side of things.

The printhead technology in the PIXMA G6050 ensures sharp and detailed prints, and it also offers borderless printing from 89x89mm square up to A4. It's a versatile three-in-one option too, with both a copier and an A4 scanner, which enables you to import artwork and other source material into a design project without the need for additional hardware. The PIXMA G6050 is also cloud-ready, so designs can be printed from any location using compatible services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

To drive down running costs even further, the MAXIFY GX3050 MegaTank 3-in-1 multi-function printer gives you best-in-class cost per page and total cost of ownership. It can output 6,0004 mono pages or up to 14,000 colour pages from a single set of pigment-based ink bottles, rising to about 9,000 and 21,000 pages respectively in economy mode. The MAXIFY GX4050 adds a 35-sheet ADF and a colour touchscreen interface, and both are capable of high-speed output at 18ipm for mono and 13ipm for colour. Another bonus of these two printers is that they feature an additional, third paper feeder at the rear. The manual tray's lay-flat design enables printing on card up to 0.7mm thick and creating banners up to 1.2 metres in length.

For a particularly compact 3-in-1 MegaTank printer, the MAXIFY GX1050 is designed for hybrid workers, featuring a customisable colour touchscreen interface that enables seamless integration for designers who work at home. It has sufficient capacity for 3,0004 mono or up to 3,000 colour pages from a single set of ink bottles and, like the PIXMA G6050, all of its pigment-based inks are highly resistant to smudging and the use of highlighter pens, for both mono and colour documents. The Canon MAXIFY GX2050 adds a 35-sheet ADF.

Best printers for designers on the go

A man seated at a table examines the picture his Canon PIXMA TR150 printer has just produced.

The Canon PIXMA TR150 produces vivid prints quickly thanks to its hybrid ink system and print speeds of up to 5.5ipm. © Jake Baggaley

A person holding a Canon SELPHY Square QX10 as it prints out a logo for a project.

Small enough to take anywhere and everywhere, the Canon SELPHY Square QX10 is powered by a rechargeable battery and is ideal if you're working in remote locations with no access to mains power.

Whether you're a graphic designer who's looking to produce proofs for a client pitch while you're on the road or working remotely, or you simply want to reclaim some space in your home office, the lean and lightweight Canon PIXMA TR150 printer is a great choice. Able to deliver documents and borderless photos up to A4 size, this portable printer can be powered by mains or via an optional battery pack for a truly mobile solution.

The PIXMA TR150 uses a hybrid ink system that features a pigment black ink with dye-based colours for vivid archival prints. It's quick too, with print speeds of up to 5.5ipm1 (images per minute) in colour and 9ipm in black and white. It's also compatible with envelopes and specialty paper, including Canon High Resolution Paper, Matte Photo Paper and Double-sided Matte Paper.

All the connections and cables are fixed to one side of the printer, so it's easy to accommodate in tight spaces, and it comes with 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi support5 , as well as Wi-Fi Direct so you can continue to print wirelessly without access to an internet router. There's even a 1.44-inch OLED screen, so you can check the connection status, access settings and ink levels directly too.

If your mobile printing needs aren't so demanding, the rechargeable battery-powered Canon SELPHY Square QX10 produces 68x68mm images with a caption-able border so you can add notes or comments, ideal for creating a mood board.

Written by Marcus Hawkins and Matthew Richards

  1. Document print speeds are the averages of ESAT in Office Category Test for the default simplex mode, ISO/IEC 24734. Photo print speed is based on the default setting using ISO/JIS-SCID N2 on Photo Paper Plus Glossy II and does not take into account data processing time on host computer.
  2. PIXMA Print Plan is only available to residents of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom.
  3. ChromaLife 100 compatible photo papers include Photo Paper Pro Platinum, Photo Paper Plus Glossy II, Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss and Photo Paper Glossy. Based on accelerated testing by Canon in dark storage under controlled temperature, humidity and gas conditions, simulating storage in an album with plastic sleeves. Canon cannot guarantee the longevity of prints; results may vary depending on printed image, drying time, display/storage conditions, and environmental factors.
  4. Page Yield is the estimated value based on Canon individual test method using the ISO/IEC 24712 chart and continuous printing simulation with the replacement ink bottles after initial setup.
  5. Support for 5GHz may not be available in your region.

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