There are many different models of photocopier, usually categorised according to their technology: ink-jet or laser. While both systems have their merits, it is undeniable that laser copiers tend to occupy the high-end of the price range, as they’re state-of-the-art, elaborate machines. However, they’re actually more economic than one would think, and they represent a sensible solution for companies looking for versatility of service at a reasonable price.
What are laser copiers suitable for?
When purchasing a photocopier or multi-function printer (MFP), it’s always crucial to be clear about the future uses of the unit. Your company’s size matters too, as an ill-chosen solution may do more harm than good, wasting time and money.
Choosing the right model
For home use or small businesses, a desktop laser copier will be the right solution. It saves space, can be moved from office to office if need be, and is quite straightforward to operate. MFPs can print, scan and copy, and are generally wirelessly connectable to any computer network. Loading the paper tray or replacing toner is easy. Standalone units are more cumbersome and need quite a few square feet of office space, or even a dedicated room. However, they offer more features, like double sided printing and finishing tools like staplers or document folders. Staff using such units will likely have to undergo a training course to properly understand how to operate the more complicated machines. Therefore, this is a solution best suited for companies with more than 10 employees, and for frequent use.
Black and white or colour?
In general, black and white laser copiers are affordable. Yet, if you need to print promotional material like posters or brochures, colour will be an essential option. As it obviously adds-up to the copier’s price, be careful when purchasing: if 90% of your machine’s job consists in text reproduction for internal use, it may be cheaper to outsource colour documents, or buy an additional desktop printer just for colour.
Speed and volume
Speed is expressed in pages per minute (ppm). Desktop units process around 20 ppm, which is just enough for a small business. If document reproduction is a common task in your company, you should choose a standalone MFP, capable of 35-50 ppm. For reproduction professionals, some machines can print or copy 100 pages per minute, but they’re much more expensive. The volume of the paper tray is important as well: frequent refills impair your staff’s workflow, wasting energy, time and money. Likewise, if you need to print or copy in different formats, such as A3 for instance, most standalone laser photocopiers are equipped with multiple paper trays.
Considerations about cost
The price range for photocopiers is very wide, from as low as £100 to more than £100,000. Comparing the price and anticipating all the related costs is therefore crucial, as well as understanding the different methods of purchase.
Inkjet vs. laser
For home use, desktop ink-jet printers are preferred because they are cheaper, and easier to operate and service. Moreover, entry-level laser copiers only process black and white documents. However, mid-range units for larger volumes of prints yield a better price-per-page ratio with laser technology, and they generally offer higher resolution and speed than their ink-jet counterparts.
Buying or leasing a laser copier
As far as costs go, buying a laser copier outright isn’t always the best solution. For small companies, or to reduce financial strain, lease renting or lease purchasing a photocopier may be more interesting. For example, a mid-range freestanding MFP costing around £1,000 can be paid for via a 5-year plan, thus costing only about £20 per month. Rental contracts run from 1 to 5 years, and generally include maintenance, and even toner refills.