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Are cheap printers costing you more?

Apr 26, 2017 3:53:46 PM / by

In many instances, a new or even an existing business follow the same path for purchasing printers. They go online or to a big box store and purchase a small desktop printer for each employee. This seems to be the easiest and most cost effective method at the time. Hey, that small color printer is only $69.99 right?

are injet printers costing youYou head back to the office with your new printer(s) and everyone is happy. They all have brand new individual printers and can produce as many documents as needed. Your employees might be happy, but your accounting department might not be. Why? Well, let’s look at the actual costs of an all-in-one inkjet machine versus a larger, toner based multi-function printer (MFP).

Let’s start again at the beginning of your journey to acquire a new printer or multiple printers. You most likely need scanning, printing, copying and faxing capabilities. Many small all-in-one desktop machines can accommodate these needs, as will most MFPs. For an easy number, let’s also say you want to produce 2,000 prints per month, 30% of them being color prints. With these factors in mind, off we go to find the right device. This brings me to the first important factor in purchasing a machine, initial cost.

As stated above, you can purchase an all-in-one, inkjet device from a big box store for about $69.99. There are many types of all-in-one and costs may vary depending on store. Pricing varies with larger toner machines as well, based on company, brand and capabilities. But, for an average I am going to use $6,000 as the initial up front cost. At this point, you are probably thinking “wow, that is a huge price difference, how can a larger machine be cost effective”. Initially, that thought is completely justified looking at the numbers. But, let’s move to the second part of owning/leasing a MFP, the supplies and service.

Whether you purchase or lease a MFP from an office equipment company, you can include maintenance costs in the contract. Most lease agreements include service in the monthly payment, while a purchased machine usually includes a separate service agreement. So how much is this service going to cost you?

To answer the above question, we need to look at the costs of keeping your machine running. The most basic item to accomplish that is toner or ink. Using two machines that fit our capabilities from above, we can calculate some average costs of ownership. The figures below include all required toner/inks to print (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black).

  • An average inkjet machine will cost $0.165 per page produced.
  • An average toner machine will cost $0.022 per page produced.
  • Using these averages, the inkjet machine will cost $330 per month to produce 2,000.
  • The toner machine will cost $44 per month to produce the same amount of pages.

You now maybe thinking “ok, those numbers show a $286 savings per month for toner, but what about that large initial cost”. Again, great point. We must remember though, that this is only comparing one toner MFP to one desktop inkjet MFP. Many companies utilize an inkjet on each employee’s desk. One floor standing toner device can do the job of many desktops. Plus, I only used 2,000 monthly prints as an example. Your company may be producing a much larger number of documents and that is going to skew the numbers even further in favor of a toner machine. But, let’s look at the total cost of the two devices compared above, for a period of 60 months.

is your cheap copier costing you more

 As you can see, the much higher cost of ink cartridges for the “cheap” desktop really adds up over time. Again, I would like to point out this example is for only one desktop machine. If the numbers are extrapolated over an entire fleet of desktop inkjets, the costs can be staggering.


The cost of each device is a large difference but, there are many other advantages a toner based MFP can offer your company. A floor sitting MFP can print on average 50 pages per minute and scan up to 80 images per minute. Most desktop inkjet devices print at an average rate of 5 pages per minute and scan very slowly. Many large MFPs can also accommodate applications like a smart device, connecting directly to Google or enhancing the machine in other ways. Due to the much faster printing and computing power of a floor sitting MFP, they can handle the workload of multiple desktop machines, cutting costs even further. Overall, when you are considering a MFP for your business, consider that the “cheapest” machine, may be the most expensive in the long run.

Ryan Griffin

Written by Ryan Griffin

Ryan Griffin is a document management solutions expert, who works with customers to increase document workflow efficiency and reduce costs. Ryan specializes in the industries of Architecture/Construction and Engineering, as well as Accounting firms and Real Estate. He currently works out of Phillip’s corporate office and provides support for customers in Dauphin and Cumberland Counties.

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