The world we live in is increasingly dependent on the Cloud. No, we’re not referring to the rain-bearing clouds in the sky, but rather the Internet-powered type. Cloud-based business solutions enable us to handle and store a near-infinite number of documents that we can access from anywhere in the world on just about any device.
With that said, a printer is still regarded as essential office equipment. Along with a telephone, this forms the backbone of your office. As you may have guessed by now, finding and selecting the right printer for your business isn’t a straightforward task. However, we know just how to choose the best printer for your business.
There are hundreds of different printer brands, types and models to sift through and shopping for your business’ printer can be overwhelming for even the most tech-savvy of us. It is important to first analyze your printing needs before you set foot in a shop to buy one or you’ll end up with the wrong printer that will cost you more money than you had ever budgeted.
When we think of printers, we usually think of the quality of prints it produces. While that is important, you also need to bear in mind the cost of supplies and the printer’s maintenance and repair.
Once you have analyzed your printing needs and determined the type of printer you’ll need, it is best to visit your nearest office supplies store to discuss the best printer that falls within the specification you require.
How to Analyze Your Printing Needs
Apart from working out a budget that you can afford to set aside for a printer, you’ll need to determine what the needs for your printer will be.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How much printing will be done per day and month?
- What type of documents do you print most often?
- Are those documents mostly printed in Colour or Black and White?
- Do you only need a printer or would you also make use of a scanner, copier, fax machine?
- Will your printer be used only by you or will it be shared with others in your office?
- What amount of space do you have in your office or on your desk for a printer?
How to Determine Which Printer is Best for your Business
Once you have determined your printing needs, you will then need to figure out the following specifications beforehand to help you narrow down your search for the right printer for your business:
1. Duty Cycle
Printers have what they call a Duty Cycle. This is the maximum number of pages the printer can handle in a month. Each printer model has a different Duty Cycle.
It is recommended that you select a printer with a Duty Cycle higher than your actual printing needs for the longevity of your printer. The average printer has a Duty Cycle of 10,000 pages per month. The more expensive the printer, the greater its Duty Cycle will be.
Single-function printers are the cheapest printer type to purchase. However, most startups and small businesses require additional functions for their operations, and multi-function printers are growing in capability and quality.
Where single-function printers might be best for photography printing businesses, a multi-function printer adds a scanner, a fax machine and a copier to the printer’s tech and tools to make it indispensable office equipment.
3. Print Speed
The average printer can handle 15 pages per minute (also called PPM). If you’re printing hundreds of pages of documents each day, then you’d need to prioritize printer speed. Some printers can print up 70 pages per minute, reducing the amount of time to complete a print job for your office.
Most modern printers can share their connection via wireless features such as Card Readers, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. A single-function printer will traditionally work with a wired connection for faster output, while a multi-function printer will have its connection shared with up to 10 devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
For a small office with a few employees and users, it would be best to search for a wireless printer for the convenience it will bring to your office.
5. Paper Tray Size
A printer’s paper tray size is an important consideration to bear in mind. An average printer’s paper tray can hold 150 pages, but if you’re printing 300 or 500 or more pages each day, you’d like to not fill up the printer’s paper tray every hour of the day.
Most larger printers can handle 250 pages and these can be extended with attachments. Business printers can handle upwards of 1,000 pages through different printer trays in the machine.
6. Paper Handling Types
If you’ll be printing double-sided – that is on both sides of the paper – then you’ll need to narrow your printer search with that requirement. Most multi-function printers boast an automatic double-sided printing system along with an automatic document feeder that also allows for multiple pages to be scanned as one document.
Another aspect of the paper handling types is that the majority of Laser and LED printers (more on those to follow) make use of specific paper types that produce better quality prints of documents. Your local printer shop or office supplies store will stock the different types of paper.
7. Memory of Printer
Another important consideration is the size of the printer’s RAM. Average printers have a RAM of 64MB while moving up the range printers can feature 256MB.
Printing large Black and White text documents will require 32MB to 64MB of RAM while color photographs will require 256MB. The more RAM a printer carries, the faster it can print large jobs.
8. Printer Ink Type
There are two major printer types: Laser and Inkjet. Simply put, an inkjet printer sprays ink onto the paper in fine drops while a laser printer rolls the ink onto the paper by using a laser.
There are major differences in cost, quality, maintenance, speed and function. The rule of thumb is that if you’re printing mostly text-based documents, go for a laser printer. If you’re printing brochures and fliers, and the odd color photograph, you’ll benefit from using an inkjet printer.
A Black and White laser printer is far more affordable than an inkjet printer and its replacement ink cartridges are also cheaper. Where a laser printer will have only one ink cartridge of black ink, an inkjet printer will have ink cartridges for black and three colors: cyan, magenta, and yellow. Each color will have individual cartridges and you’ll need to replace each cartridge for all full-color printing jobs.
9. Cost Per Page
The majority of printer manufacturers advertise their printers’ cost per page as a guideline to consumers. Buying a cheaper printer will actually be more expensive to print a high number of pages, while a mid-level printer will cost less to create prints.
The rule of thumb when shopping for printers is that the cheaper the printer costs, the higher the costs will be to replace ink. Inkjet printers have a cost per page average of 20 cents per page while a laser printer is 7 cents per page.
10. Leasing or Buying
When analyzing your printing needs for your business, you might have calculated that your printing needs would require a large business printer for printing many thousands of documents a week.
It might be wiser to lease a printer from a specialist company for a set fee each month. The company will maintain the printer – but not replace the ink cartridges or ink rollers – and upgrade your business printer every few years for one that’s more efficient and offers enhanced features.