Copier Buying Considerations
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When people talk about “copiers” today, what they actually mean is multi-function copiers (MFCs), also known as multi-function printers (MFPs) or all-in-ones (AIOs). Not only do such machines make copies, they also serve as network printers, scanners, and fax machines.
Copier Print Speeds and Print Volume
MFC speed is expressed by pages per minute (ppm), copies per minute (cpm), or outputs per minute (opm). Faster speeds are associated with higher costs. Most business class machines have minimum speeds of 20 ppm and some go as high as 75-100 ppm. Unless you work for a large or very large organization, 20-50 ppm should be sufficient.
After determining how fast your new copier should be, you need to figure out how much volume it will handle. Known as a machine’s “duty cycle,” volume is expressed in pages or outputs per month. Determine your required duty cycle by taking current copier output (check the machine’s counter) and adding 15 to 25 percent (as a buffer). Remember, too, that an MFC’s output includes copies and prints as well as faxes and scanned documents. Most businesses produce fewer than 10,000 outputs per month. Avoid inflating output volume excessively, as higher volume machines, like faster machines, tend to cost more.
Copier Scan and Fax
Basic scan and fax capabilities are part and parcel of a new MFC. If you only do basic document scanning and send or receive the occasional fax, standard scan and fax capabilities should be enough. More advanced options to consider include various “scan to” functions (scan to email, scan to USB, scan to PC, scan to URL, scan to folder), high-resolution scanning (of slides, film strips, and photos), and two-sided (duplex) scanning.
When it comes to faxing, more advanced functions include PC fax (using the MFC to fax directly from your computer), Internet fax (no separate phone line required), and high-speed fax (Super G3).
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Other Copier Features
Once you’ve determined your core MFC needs, there are other features to consider, including:
- Color printing: If your organization regularly makes some color prints/copies, consider purchasing a color MFC. If you rarely print or copy in color, it might make sense to purchase a lower-cost monochrome MFC.
- Finishing options: MFCs that staple, three-hole punch, bind, make booklets, sort copied sets, and more are available…at greater cost.
- Paper capacity: High volume output should be matched by high paper capacity. Standard capacity ranges from 100 to 4,000 sheets but with add-on paper trays MFCs can hold 7,000 to 8,000 sheets or more.
- Computing power: MFCs are computer-like in that they can store large amounts of data and perform complex tasks simultaneously. Enhance capabilities by choosing a machine with more memory (RAM), more storage (HDD), and a faster processor. For example, a copier with sufficient memory can perform stackless duplexing (two-sided copying).
- Connectivity: Ethernet and/or Wi-Fi connectivity makes network printing, network scanning, PC fax, and other LAN functions possible.
How Much Does a Copier Typically Cost?
Sample Copier Costs – What You Should Know Before Copier Shopping The question you’re still asking yourself is, of course, “How much is this going to cost me?” And the answer is: “It depends”…on a lot of factors. Noted above is the fact that faster, higher output MFCs are more expensive. This general rule, however, can be distorted by options and upgrades. For example, a black and white MFC with basic functions that prints at 40 ppm might cost less than a 30 ppm full color MFC with advanced functionality. Despite such exceptions, most manufacturers group their products according to print speed, with costs ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 in the 20 ppm range, or from $10,000 to $30,000 or more for machines in the 50 to 70 ppm range. For a more complete cost breakdown, see our page on digital copier machines. Or if you prefer, check out cost breakdowns according to major copier brands:
- Canon Copiers
- Xerox Copiers
- Konica Minolta Copiers
- Ricoh Copiers
- Sharp Copiers
Finally, you might want to consider copier leasing. Many companies choose to lease rather than buy a copier.