The real cost of computer printing

Despite claims years ago that business would become paperless, more computer printing is done today than ever before.

The shear growth in the amount of information we interact with may have something to do with this, as does our use of e-mail and Web pages, which people are constantly printing out. Furthermore, people increasingly want printed pages containing color.

Although printers are more capable and less expensive for that capability today, for most firms, the cost of printing has gone up due to the volume of printing, the amount of printing done in color and the choice of printers being used.

Most firms have no idea what their computer printing really costs them. Acquisition costs are typically low, often buried in different department budgets, and are not capitalized, and the consumables are lumped in with office supplies.

The great news is that if you choose the right products for your needs, you can pocket thousands of dollars in operating costs.

Acquisition costs tend to be quite competitive among various manufacturers for the same type of product. But the key metric is, what is the cost per page printed?

The cost per page includes all the consumables and those things that must be replaced once you print a certain number of pages. Consumables may be different depending on the printer. For color digital (laser) printers/copiers, there are many consumables. Some firms include the service costs as well.

Inkjet printers are widely deployed because they can print in color, have a small form factor and are inexpensive. But these printers are causing you to throw money away. The cost per page can be more than $1. You get very few prints per cartridge, and the cartridges are expensive. Manufacturers have been known to give the printers away because they make so much money on the supplies you have to purchase.

The following costs are based on 10 percent ink coverage. If you print graphics/pictures, the costs are multiplied.

* Monochrome laser printers (and copiers) can vary considerably in their cost per page, from less than one-half cent to more than 6 cents.


* The cost per page with color laser printers (and copiers) can be as low as 5 cents, but are more typically 10 to 12 cents per page, and more for older generation products.


Even a moderately low usage workgroup monochrome laser printer is likely running more than 10,000 pages a month. The difference in operating costs can easily be $2,000 a year, on each printer. And, when you consider that there are many department printers doing 10,000 or more pages a month, that could mean $20,000 a printer, per year.

Many companies have replaced printers that were working fine with a lower operating cost product and saved in excess of a half-million dollars a year over and above the cost of acquisition.

Generally, the market leaders are among the most expensive printers to operate. Involve a qualified print specialist to evaluate your requirements and make recommendations. The result should be a much fatter bottom line for you.

Randy Wear is president of Decision Systems Plus Inc., a member of the Technology Assurance Group (TAG). DSP provides computer and telephone technology infrastructure sales and support nationwide, to increase client’s productivity and profitability. Reach him at [email protected] or (847) 544-5818.