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How To Choose the Right Printer for Your Growing Start-up

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Regardless of your startup’s size or products, chances are your printer is a vital part of your daily workflow. Even the most tech-centric organizations rely on a printer for planning, presentations, and reports at the very least. For young companies who want to make as few expensive mistakes possible, choosing the best printer can help save time and money, be more efficient, and facilitate business development. With hundreds of printers out there to choose from, how do you pick the best printer for your company? Start by considering each of the following.

Inkjet or Laser

Office printers come in two major categories based on how they print: inkjet and laser. Inkjet printers layer a liquid ink onto the page to produce text and images, whereas laser printers use a heated fuser to apply toner. The print speed and toner longevity of laser printers make them perfect for heavy duty use. However, most smaller and more affordable laser printers can’t print in color ­­this is a functionality that inkjet printers are engineered to do. Inkjet printer technology focuses on color clarity while laser printers are tested for endurance and speed.

Despite laser printers being slightly more expensive, they have a higher duty cycle and can handle a heavier workload making them ideal for high volume print jobs. Inkjet printers may be cheaper but they have a significantly lower duty cycle in comparison.

When it comes to reliable performance and duty cycle, a laser printer is the preferred machine for most start­ups. A monochrome printer can get your office through thousands of pages each month without a hitch. Of course, the best printer for your startup will depend on the nature of your business and how much printing you do on a daily basis. If you are only printing for accounting and billing, for example, you can go for a medium duty printer rather than a traditional full­-sized risograph office printer.

Cost per copy

Not only are laser printers faster but they also have a lower cost per page than inkjet printers, not to mention laser toner lasts longer when printing text. Inkjet printers may be cheaper but they use up so much ink that the expense of replacing ink cartridges adds up quickly over time resulting in a much higher cost per page. One great example: the price per page for HP 61 ink in the popular and inexpensive HP 1055 inkjet printer can cost up to 19 cents per text page, whereas the Brother TN450, a popular laser toner cartridge, is rated at around 2 cents per page.

Cheaper printers are often designed for periodic home use rather than for the volume of printing your company does daily. Another factor to consider when purchasing the best printer for your startup is whether your print volume will change over time. Do you think you’ll be printing more as your business grows? If so, then a more expensive professional printer will cost you less in the long run thanks to higher efficiency.

Replacement ink and toner

Not all ink is created equal. Replacement ink and toner cartridges can vary widely in price, and should be considered along with cost ­per page metrics. When it comes to price, there are ink and toner replacement alternatives that are 75% cheaper than genuine cartridges, saving you tons of money you could be investing to promote your startup’s growth. Quality­wise you won’t notice the difference especially if you’re mostly printing black and white documents. Even most color printer cartridges now print with the same clarity as original brand cartridges. Choosing a printer that works with compatible cartridges can save you bundles of money compared to one that doesn’t.

Pages per minute

Startups need to make the most of the time available during the day to get ahead of the competition. Your printer has to be part of that strategy. Stan Anglen at the legal resource blog ALPS411 suggests 20 pages per minute should be the absolute minimum for an office printer, and for shared work group printers 50 pages per minute is best. For company-wide or production room printing, 80 pages per minute more is standard. “Anything less than the above speeds are a waste of time in a professional environment,” he writes.

Monthly print volume

Doing a quick printing audit before you go printer shopping will help you get an idea of how much printing you do and for what purposes. All printer/copiers are rated with a “safe” maximum monthly print volume total that will vary depending on the model, as well as its design and intent. Consistently overworking your machine beyond its capacity will lead to frequent costly repairs, especially over time as your printer ages, or the premature replacement of your unit. Knowing how much you print presently and in the near future will give you better insight on the the print volume your printer should be capable of.

Extra features

Printers and copiers nowadays come with a whole range of features to help you save time. Depending on the printer capabilities your office uses often, you can do a better job investing in a dedicated devices instead of an all­-in-­one. A dedicated scanner, for example, will usually be easier to use and provide better quality than the scanner that comes in an all­-in­-one printer. Trying to get everything into one unit without boosting it out of the budget price range means getting lesser quality for all components and less efficiency in the long run. Other features that come on professional quality printers such as stapling, three-­hole punching, and collating are immensely valuable time savers however ­­so long as those features are used frequently enough.

Budgeting for your printer is fairly easy when you break it down to the numbers. Beyond the initial cost of the unit, you should take into consideration a) the amount of printing you do per month, b) the estimated cost per print (or per ink refill), and c) the printer functionalities your office needs. Office printers, on average, last around three to four years before the amount of repair needed for upkeep is no longer worth it. Crunching these basic numbers can give you an idea of what kind of printer you need and can afford.

Once everything is lined up, it’s time for the fun part: picking out a printer! Here are some of our recommended printers to help guide you along the way:

Personal desk

High speed at a budget­-friendly price, the Canon imageClass MF227dw is a great option for your personal print needs. Designed for upwards of 10,000 pages printed per month, it’s rugged for an all­in­one and prints at a solid 28 pages per minute, ­­­all for well under two hundred dollars. And with available compatible toner cartridges, you can keep costs as low as many more expensive work group printers.

Small office

When your print needs are bordering on corporate levels, but you can’t quite justify spending the money on a high capacity print system, consider a higher level mid­-range unit like the HP Laserjet Pro M452DW. It’s an excellent heavy duty work group printer with low cost per page and high pages per minute black and white rates ideal for providing midsize firms consistent print results. This HP model also features affordable compatible toner replacements as well.

Mid­-range

An affordable step up for a mid­-range office size, the Epson Workforce Pro WF­6590 laser printer is great for smaller workgroups around ten people and inexpensive enough to buy multiples. It’s 12.7 pages per minute rating is fast, and thanks to very affordable compatible toner replacements, its cost per page can be kept much lower than most. This model can also print in color to add a little extra punch to graphics and presentations. More on this printer can be found here.

High capacity

When it comes time to purchase a high capacity professional printer, your needs become very specific. The needs for a stable-­but­-still­-emerging startup will be very different than a multinational with hundreds of employees, and the printer you choose will follow those needs. The Konica Minolta bizhub PRO series features several outstanding corporate printers designed to specifically suit the type of printing your company needs to save money and stay ahead of the game. For more information, check out their website here.

Choosing the printer that best suits the needs of a growing startup takes a little work, but it can help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year in overhead costs. Combined with measures to reduce wasted print and help minimize environmental impact, you can benefit the world . . . all while keeping your accountant happy at the same time.

Nicholas Brown is a research editor for LD Products where he frequently writes about the ways businesses in various industries can utilize printing technology for improved efficiency in design, marketing, and overall office operations.

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