What factors influence the price of a printer?
If you’re in the market to buy new printers/copiers for your organisation here is a belt and braces guide to the specifications, covering all the factors that will affect your expenses.
You’re probably planning to compare prices from at least three suppliers, so you’ll need to supply them with a written tender specification. Below is your ‘starter for 10’ for drafting that invitation to tender. Consider specifications where you can compromise to save costs.
There are six main areas to think about: the size and type of organisation, hybrid working, print volumes, speed and feeds, laser vs inkjet and finishing required.
Your printing requirements according to your size and type of organisation
- Does it need to integrate with existing office systems? e.g. does it need to link to workflows or Document Storage?
- Do you need a centralised print hub, or more localised workgroup access?
- Is allocation to cost codes needed (for billing), or print to different machines integration (aka Follow Me print solutions/Print Release)?
- Information security – is the printing content confidential or subject to the Data Protection Act? Do we need to manage access to documents that go through the printer?
- Do we need additional machine functionality for disabled and sight-impaired users?
Hybrid working and printer/copier requirements
The world of hybrid working has prompted many organisations to review their printer/copier requirements. Working from home means staff are often using their own printers and while domestic machines may seem cheap with an initial purchase price of around £50, the cost per colour page could be 20p and 3p for b&w.
Compare that with an office machine which costs £500 initially but might only be 4p per colour page and 0.4p per b&w page. It makes more sense to choose an office machine if you’re printing 100 b&w pages and 40 colour a month.
Average print volume
Unsurprisingly, print volume is one of the key considerations and the more information you can provide the more accurate your costs will be. In that case, how do you work out your average print volume? A newer machine can print a report on lifetime usage to give a rough average across time periods but if you’re using an older machine then there are other ways of gathering this information.
- A print audit can be done to measure this
- Historical billing reference of existing/previous printer contracts
- How much paper a machine uses (although this doesn’t take into account double-side printing)
Peak volume demand can vary according to the organisation. The end of financial year can be a catalyst for high demand, with financial years vary according to different sectors. The start of school term is a busy time for printers/copiers while project-based demand clearly also affects volume. Lastly, think of the ratio of b&w compared to colour.
Speeds and feeds
- Do you need A3? And if so, how many pages per month? (a very small quantity might mean an A4-only printer is the more cost-effective solution)
- What kind of scanning capability do you need? e.g. do you need to scan small or large documents, is it occasional or high volumes and do you need to archive?
- Do you need to print speciality stocks /banners (up to 1.2m long) or over-sized prints?
Laser vs inkjet
Understandably, most people probably don’t know the difference between Laser and Inkjet. It’s fair to say that, while technology has made recent improvements in inkjet quality, laser probably still wins on this score. In inkjet’s favour are its environmental credentials and price.
- Quality of print e.g. high sheen finish of lasers, is there a need to write on print? Recent technology improvements mean spills on inkjet paper no longer smudge the ink, and ink is dry as soon as print is done
- Home and Office. Taking into account your organisation’s overall printing requirements, particularly with the mix of hybrid working, the features and volumes you need will determine whether a small office printer is needed at home as well as office-based machines (remembering domestic machines cost much more per page to operate). Likewise, similar considerations determine whether an inkjet or laser printer is the best option.
- Environmental priorities: inkjet is approximately 10% of the power usage of an equivalent laser, less components & consumables mean less packaging waste and less delivery.
- Budget: Lasers are on average 20% more expensive on hardware, and at least twice as much on operating costs.
Finally, the print audit mentioned above, as well as giving the lowdown on what size of document is printed and when, it can also provide information on finishing requirements such as double-sided print, stapled booklets, labels or speciality paper stock.
There’s a lot to think about but this quick guide is a comprehensive checklist to make sure you include everything. If you follow this there should be no surprise expenses when buying new printers/copiers.
To make the experience even easier for you, we've developed a "One in 3" tool which helps you evaluate 3 proposals based on your actual needs.