15. November 2006, 21:13 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

When it comes to making hard copies of the plethora of documents used on computers daily, the true cost of printing cannot be found in the price of the printer but in the consumables and other hidden costs.

Most of today's mainstream consumer and low-end commercial printers follow the same model used so successfully by the non-electric razor market - buy a razor for litte money and then pay for expensive blades on a continous basis. Or buy an inexpensive disposable razor over and over again. In the case of printers - that recurrring cost is ink or toner.

One way to get a handle on these costs is to figure out your cost per page for various printers and options. Basic costs include the printer hardware, accessories and installation. If you installed the printer yourself, the cost of installation becomes time. Operating costs include ink cartridges and paper and power consumption - and the cost of consumables eventually exceeds the cost of the printer. Also to be considered is the reliability, print quality and consistent quality of the solution chosen. A little time spend in planning can have large paybacks over the life of your printers.

For individuals and small or medium-sized organizations, it is fairly easy to control these costs. Printing in greyscale to print in black and white instead of colour (avoid overuse of colour as that can make costs jump considerably and they're going to be higher in ink than in toner). Save colour printing for applications that actually require it. Likewise, if you know you are going to use a lot of paper, don’t try to save a few hundred dollars buying a printer that is rated for considerably less than your projected output.

Unless it is needed for specific purposes, consider avoiding inkjet printers altogether. Consumables for inkjet printers are about four times more expensive than for network laser printers. Inkjet printers have their uses - just implement them as appropriate.

A first step to getting a handle on your costs is to do an audit:

  • What printers do you already have?
  • How much is ink and/or toner costing?
  • How many pages are printed a month?
  • How much output is colour adn what kinds of documents?
Once you know what printers you have, how they are used, and what they are costing you, it is easier to determine your real needs and keep those solutions that work and are cost effective, and replace those that don’t while keeping an eye open for performance degradation and cost increases.

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Keywords: printing,costs,consumables,inkjet,laser,printers



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