Comparing the HP T520 vs Canon TM-305 Large Format Printer - TAVCO

Comparing the HP T520 vs the Canon TM-300

Recently, a UK-based company, GDS, published an article comparing the HP T520 plotter to a Canon TM-305. They were spot-on in showcasing the differences between the two printers and how the Canon TM-305 is a much more cost effective solution than the HP. Here are some key takeaways.

Considering the HP T520

HP Desigjet T520

If you are considering the HP Designjet T520 as an inexpensive CAD and poster printer, be sure that you look at the big picture. Often a low-price printer can be much more taxing on your wallet when it comes to long-term operational costs.

Many CIOs and IT Directors measure the “big picture” through TCO or Total Cost of Operation. This accounts for the initial cost of the hardware, plus the long-term running overhead costs of paper, ink, service, etc.

In the GDS article,a couple of different test images are user to compare the difference between the two printers. According to the sample poster image, the total ink cost for that print is double the price on the HP as it is on the Canon.

This is because the Canon employs a refined technology that uses less ink than the HP.

As per GDS, “So, not only does the Canon use a lot less ink to complete the same job, but the ink is also half of the cost. Image how that will add up over the life of the printer!”

There is also a comparison of the printers competing over a basic CAD drawing, which is equally suitable for both units.

Measuring the ink output on a CAD drawing, the Canon used much less ink than the HP T520. Once again, less volume combined with a lower overall ink price, results in an overall lower cost per print.

Pigment Inks Make a Big Difference in the TM-305

Canon TM-300 large format printer

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The entire ink set of the Canon TM-305 are pigment inks. These are the same type of inks used in higher-quality graphics printers.

Pigments will not fade and have some water resistant properties as well. This makes the TM-305 equally capable of printing CAD drawings, posters, and even printing banners for short term outdoor use!

Conversely, the HP DesignJet T520 only utilizes pigment in the Matte Black Ink. This helps with black lines, but the other colors are the older dye-based inks.

Think of dyes as “water colors” which behave much like paint in a child’s paint-by-numbers book. Dyes are not resilient and water decimates them on the paper.

So, consider the power of pigment inks with the TM-series and get fade-proof and water-resistant prints.

Time is Money

Waiting on prints is not productive to your business. The faster they print, the more you can get done. The TM-305 can print 5 x D-size (24” x 36”) CAD drawings in less than 3 minutes and stack them neatly in the flat-stacking tray.

The flat tray is a simple design, but quite effective. D-size, 24 x 36 inch drawings stack nicely for easy retrieval. But, the stacker can be easily adjusted to handle larger sizes.

Alternatively, the T520 takes over 5 minutes to complete the same job. In addition to the added time, the HP does not have an organized stacker. So, the drawings simply fall into the catch basket and have to be sorted by hand.

Ink Options to Fit Your Budget

When it comes to resupplying the TM-305 with ink, Canon gives you some options to consider. Both the TM-305 and TM-305 models have ability to accept either 130ml or 300ml size tanks. Plus, you can even mix and match different size tanks.

Inks for Canon TM 300 and 305 large format printer

Mixing sizes like this is a common practice for an AEC office who generally prints black line drawings. They can buy the larger 300ml tank of Black and stay with the smaller 130ml for the other, less-used colors.

Having the ability to use larger ink tanks can positively impact your bottom line as is dramatically reduces the frequency that you need to replace the ink.

Plus, the larger ink tanks save you money—they are 33% less expensive per ml of ink. Imagine cutting your cost by a third!

Comparatively, the DesignJet T520 takes 29ml Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, and either 38ml or 80ml Black.

Make no mistake, the printer manufacturers are in business to sell you ink. HP certainly has figured out the best way to squeeze their customers by offering tiny 29ml cartridges.

Ink at the Ready

Another innovative feature of all Canon imagePROGRAF printers is the Sub Ink Tank System. Essentially, the ink from the replaceable tanks runs into an internal ink reservoir that supplies the print head.

The accomplishes a couple of things:

  • Ensures that 100% of the ink is used from every tank
  • Allows a “hot swap” of ink tanks - users can replace an empty tank without stopping print jobs

Free and Powerful Software

All Canon iPF printers, including the TM-Series ship with several free applications that are extremely useful.

Direct Print & Share

Direct Print and Share is a cloud portal and batch printing solution that helps you to expand your printing workflow. This software allows you to upload documents to your cloud account using any WebDAV compliant cloud service, and print the uploaded documents from almost anywhere.

Easily share and/or print .cpfx PosterArtist, PDF, TIFF, JPEG, and HP-GL/2 files, through the user-friendly interface.

Set-up hot folders on your desktop by clicking the Shortcut Print feature. Then drag and drop the files you wish to print into these folders and the job will start automatically. You can even set up multiple folders, each with their own customized settings, allowing for multiple jobs to be run with ease. Thumbnail previews of multipage images and multipage printing of PDFs can also be done with this software.

Free Layout Plus

New! Nest, tile and create custom layouts before printing your files with this print utility. Use the plug-in feature to print directly from Microsoft Office programs.

PosterArtist Lite

This software provides a way to quickly and easily make awe-inspiring posters. And, you do not need any graphic arts training. Users simply follow the program's four (4) easy steps to create posters that can be used in applications such as office Presentations, Trade shows, Retail Signage, and much, much more.


The Canon TM-305 outshines the HP T520 in variety of ways and offers an incredible value for money. Plus the total cost of ownership is significantly lower than the HP.

Standard, innovative features of the Canon such as all pigment inks, a flat stacking tray, and hot-swappable ink tanks and result in a printer that is hard to beat.

Although both the HP DesignJet T520 and the Canon TM-305 are promoted as an entry level models, the Canon TM-305 just has more to offer than the HP T520.

Learn more with our Definitive Guide to Canon Large Format Format Printers

Questions? We'd love to help. Reach out to one of our specialists. 

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