Top Tips for Choosing an Office Printer and Saving on Running Costs
With the overwhelming amount of products in the printer market, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the factors that matter for your office. John Sollars of printer cartridge retailer StinkyInk gives some tips on what to look for.
Where to start:
The old adage “you get what you pay for” is very apt; beware of printer offers seemingly too-good-to-be-true. In most cases their cartridge prices will be extortionate and long-term running costs will be unbelievably high. Budget for an initial lump sum purchase, and for future repeat cartridge purchases so you know what value market you are browsing for.
Inkjet or laser
Previously polar opposites, most small offices will now be equally well served by either, with only two areas of concern.
- If you expect to print volumes in excess of 500 pages a month consistently, a laser will probably be more suitable due to cartridge sizes being designed for large scale printing.
- If you expect to have numerous users for a single printer, all with heavy printing demands, an inkjet’s print speed may not keep up.
Mono or colour
Even if present requirements only require black, I would nevertheless recommend spending a little extra for colour. You never know when your office printing will switch to promotional materials or a new attention-grabbing logo is added to letterheads. Aim for a printer with individual colour cartridges instead of tri-colour cartridges, helping you minimise waste and long term costs.
Some manufacturers sign distribution agreements with select retail groups, meaning only they can supply the cartridges. This not only results in higher prices, but a sudden loss of supply when the cartridge range is withdrawn by said retail chain. Ensure cartridges for any printer you view are available from numerous retailers, and enquire about third-party cartridge availability to really nail down future running costs.
Quite a few printer manufacturers acknowledge hardware designed for heavy usage should tailor towards printing extreme volumes. If you fall into this category see whether a range of normal and high yield cartridges are available, enabling you to plan ahead when buying your cartridges.
Multi-function printers (MFPs)
Determine the demands your employees will place on the printer and the existing facilities already available in your office. Will you need a MFP providing benefits such as scanning and copying, or are they already in the office? Remember that, though an MFP saves office space, it may result in a queue if numerous employees try to use different functions at the same time. And what happens if the MFP breaks down?
Ethernet ports are a minimum requirement, meaning more than one user can easily access the printer. But it’s worth considering a WiFi printer that minimises wiring around the office and makes it much easier to add new printers to the network.
Though not a necessity, the ability to print automatically on both sides of the paper can save a large amount of time and up to half of your paper costs. Just be aware that printers with a built-in duplexer may take up more desk space due to a ‘lump’ on the back of the machine meaning it cannot be placed flush against a wall.
Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)
Enabling large scale copying without manual paper feeding, an ADF can save an incredible amount of time. If your office printer is going to be needed for scanning and copying duties, this will prove invaluable.
If you expect a heavy workload for your printer, aim for larger capacity paper trays to save time on replenishing paper and pausing print requests halfway through the process, which will waste energy and also ink/toner. It is worth checking if the printer can have paper trays added, sometimes providing up to 4000 extra sheets of potential input. Also check the weight of paper the printer is happy to use. Most modern printers can print onto paper weights as low as 75 gsm, again helping you save on paper costs.
If you really want to maximise the efficiency of your printer, there are a couple of concerns you can address to limit any long-term hiccups or issues.
You are ideally looking for a plug-and-print machine with minimum installation fuss. Check reviews and user experiences with printers to see whether it is an overly complicated process. Pay particular attention to ones needing separate software installation for every user, as this wastes significant time and effort for features you will probably never use.
Low ink performance
If a black cartridge runs out, some printers use the nightmare financial scenario of mixing all the colour cartridges to create black. An incredibly expensive ‘feature’ to avoid in any printer you are considering.
Follow these quick few pointers to help minimise your printing costs and make those replacement ink cartridges last even longer. Simply pop to your printer settings menu, and turn on the following features when printing non-official documents.
This uses up to 50% less ink for a small loss of print quality.
This setting converts your document to black-and-white, removing needless colour in the document and predominantly using your black cartridge when printing, keeping the more expensive colour cartridges for when they are needed (be aware a small amount of colour will still used).
Your printer is programmed to use varied amounts of ink and heat depending on the type of paper it is printing onto. Confirming this setting matches the paper you are using can make savings on both factors.
I hope this article helps you find the perfect printer for your office and saves you some money.
This article was written by our business expert John Sollars.