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Is your printer costing you more than it’s worth?


The digital age has loosened our reliance on paper, yet there are still many instances printing on paper is required. This can result in significant bottom-line costs for SMEs. Joel Montgomery offers some suggestions and tips for minimising your printer costs.

The average employee prints 10,000 sheets of paper every year* and when you consider the cost of genuine ink & toner consumables is at least 15 times more expensive than Dom Perignon per litre it’s no surprise that printing is a major expense for most small businesses.

Printing costs vary wildly depending on what printer you buy, so how do your printing costs stack up against other popular models? And what simple things can you do to save some cash?

Choose Wisely

Over a three-year period it’s likely that more than 80% of your printing costs will come from your ink & toner purchases. The price of ink and toner can vary significantly depending on brand and product. Here’s a quick comparison of 4 popular colour multi-function laser printers based on the typical usage of a small business printer (printing 1,500 mono pages and 500 colour pages per month).

Product (Speed) Price of printer Total cost over 3 years *
(12 pages per minute)
$784 $7,299
Fuji Xerox C1190
(12 pages per minute)
$591 $6,279
Dell 2135cn
(16 pages per minute)
$499 $4,419
Samsung CLX-6210FX
(20 pages per minute)
$758 $4,234

* This is the total price of the printer and on-going toner over 3 years based on the prices from Harris Technology and Dell. Total cost includes the up-front printer purchase and on-going toner but excludes any parts, paper or services required throughout the life of the printer.

You’ll notice that the total cost over three years varies significantly by brand and product and the main difference is in the price of toner. Manufacturers charge different prices for toner depending on which printer you buy so you should not conclude that all Samsung printers are cheaper to run than their equivalent HP model. It pays to investigate your total cost of printing before you buy.

Calculating Your Total Cost Of Printing

The easiest way for you to compare your printing costs is to first calculate your Cost Per Print (CPP), which you can calculate by:

The industry recognised benchmark for yield is 5% coverage which means that the ink/toner covers only 5% of a typical page.

Here is a simple calculator so you can compare your printing costs against the popular models. Download the calculator here >>

Tips For Buying A New Printer

If you’re buying a new printer we suggest you investigate the cost of the toner and the number of pages it prints to calculate your Total Cost Of Printing. Within a range of products from the same manufacturer you can expect that ongoing toner will be more expensive if you buy a cheaper printer however this is not always the case.

Tips For Reducing Your Printing Costs

If you’re not in the market for a new printer but you want to cut your printing costs, here are simple things you can do:

1) Adjust your printer default settings

Set your printer to print black (mono) in draft mode by default, and if your employees want to print in high-quality colour they should have to select it at time of print. A mono draft-quality print is at least five times cheaper than a high-quality colour print.

2) Print duplex

Printing duplex (i.e. on both sides of the paper) is a relatively simple way to halve your paper costs. Mid to high-range printers will print duplex without requiring you to re-load the paper to print on the back.

3) Buy non-genuine brand cartridges

You can more than halve your toner costs by purchasing “compatible” brands or by re-filling your cartridges, but this is not a popular strategy because many low-quality toner cartridges can damage your printer and deliver sub-par print results.

What do you think of this article? Do you have any feedback on your own printing experience or do you have any other tips to share with our readers?

* Source: Citigroup-Environmental Defense Partnership to Improve Office
Paper Management (New York: Citigroup and Environmental Defense, November 2004)


Joel Montgomery is the founder of PowerBuy.com.au, a free I.T. coupon and cash-back service for small Australian businesses

Photo: Ev0luti0nary