Office Copiers

With so many options out there, it can be challenging to know which copier is the right fit for your business.

A copy machine that works for one business may not work for another.

Office copiers are a $39.4 billion industry, with revenues expected to increase 4% annually. With 2,590 businesses operating in the copier and office equipment wholesale market, it is a highly competitive industry. Copier manufacturers keep improving the product with more advanced features so that you can complete a multitude of tasks. From stapling to sorting to double-sided copies, the sky is the limit when it comes to today’s commercial copier capabilities.

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What kind of commercial copier would you like?

  • Black and white?
  • Color?
  • Both color and black and white?
  • Managed print services?

The Basics

Copier Volume

The volume that you will be printing is one of the strongest indicators of what kind of copier you will need.

If you have a small business that only makes 500 copies a month, you’re not going to need a giant, commercial-grade copy machine. On the other hand, if your business is making 50,000 copies a month, a small copier from your local office supply store is not going to cut it.

If you have no idea how much you print, here are some ways to track your monthly quota:

  • If you already own a copier, the device will have an internal counter. Think of it like an odometer on a car. Somewhere in the menu options, you will be able to display the total number of copies and print jobs.
  • If you use a print shop for your copies, refer to your receipts to get an estimate of how much volume you copy in a month.
  • If you still aren’t sure, below is a sample chart to show you how many copies the average customer makes in a month.

volume of copies

As you can see, 86% of our customers make less than 10,000 copies in a month and about half make less than 2,500 in a month. If you aren’t sure how to calculate your volume, hopefully, this will give you an idea of a small company’s numbers.

Keep in mind, your estimate does not need to be exact. Don’t break your neck trying to figure out the exact number of copies your office makes. Just reach an approximate estimate, and then increase it by 15% to account for a margin of error and future growth.

Copier Speed

Copiers are ranked by the speed in which they can print copies per minute (CPM) or print per minute (PPM). CPM and PPM mean the exact same thing, so keep that in mind if you find the terms used interchangeably in your research.

The print speed you’ll need is proportionate to the monthly volume you print. Your estimated monthly volume will help you determine what kind of copier speed you’ll need.

The chart below lists copier speeds and typical uses for that speed.

copier speeds and typical uses

The majority of small businesses will be satisfied with 15-35 ppm. Keep in mind that these speeds are based on single-sided copies of typical size paper. If you will be doing a lot of double-sided or large printing, the speed will be slower.

Multi-function Copiers

Nowadays, copiers can do a whole lot more than just make photocopies.

They can be your one-stop shop for printing, scanning, faxing, and many other additional needs to help your business run more efficiently. If you need your photocopier to do more than just make copies, you are going to want a multi-function printer (also known as an all-in-one printer). A multi-function printer is a fancy word for a copy machine that does more than just make copies.

  • If you buy a multi-function printer, don’t waste money on fax machines, scanners, or desk printers.
  • Don’t pay extra for features you don’t need. However, keep in mind that many copiers have many features that won’t cost extra.
  • Make sure the printer is compatible with your current network.

Options

Types of Copiers

Inkjet vs. Laser

There are two main types of office copiers:inkjet and laser. When choosing between the two, take a look at your usage and budget.

Here 3 factors to consider when choosing between inkjet and laser copiers for your business.

  1. Toner

    Inkjet printers use a water-based toner that cannot produce as many copies. Liquid ink is sprayed onto the printer paper and requires some dry time. Laser printers use a dry, powder-based ink that is heat-fused onto the paper.

    On average, an inkjet toner cartridge can yield 1,000 copies versus laser ink that can produce approximately 10,000-15,000 copies. It is important to note that a single inkjet toner cartridge can cost $30 or more and inkjet printers require 6 different color cartridges. Laser ink cartridges are more expensive, but laser printers only require 4 cartridges and they will produce more copies (prints).

    Note: the cost of toner increases exponentially if your business creates a high volume of prints.

  2. Cost per page

    In order to pinpoint which solution would be optimal for your business, you must determine the approximate volume of prints your business produces per month. Simply put, how many reams of paper do you go through monthly? Each ream is 500 pages. If you expect to print more than 1,000 copies a month, your best choice is a laser printer.

    The price of toner is the main factor in determining how much it will cost to print a page. For example, inkjet printers cost about 20 cents per page for color and 7 cents a page for black and white. A laser printer’s cost per page is about 6 cents.

    Note: higher quality, high performing printers (whether inkjet or laser) will keep the cost per printed page lower.

  3. Quality and Speed
    Does your business print mostly in color or black and white? If high-quality color prints are your company’s mainstay, then go with an inkjet printer. Inkjets offer a higher quality color print, but you will sacrifice print speed. An inkjet printer will print about 5 black and white pages per minute (ppm); and the speed will be even slower for color.

If you are in the business of printing mostly black and white, then laser printers are the right choice. Laser color prints will be of lower quality, but black and white copies will be high quality and printed at an incredibly efficient rate of 20 ppm.

High Quality Color Prints = inkjet

High Volume Black and White = laser

A commercial copier supplier can help you find the right floor-model inkjet or laser printer. They will look at your budget, provide feedback on print volume and will offer both lease and purchase options.

Copier Features

The copier has come a long way since Xerox’s humble Model A was released years ago.

Now copiers come with all kinds of advanced features. Some features that multi-function printers or all-in-one copiers include are:

Printer

Having a reliable printer for your business is as essential, if not more essential, than having a copier. Many businesses now rely on their copy machine as the communal office printer. Most multi-function printers can be connected to your network, allowing staff to send documents to the copier right from their desk.

Some advantages of using a copier as a printer include:

  • Saves space – one less big piece of office equipment
  • Saves money – no need to purchase printers and replacement inks
  • Saves hassle – can select print features from your desktop (like printing double-sided)
  • Saves time – with copy features like sorting and stapling documents

By using the office copier as the printer for your staff, your team’s desks are freed of clutter and gain desk space. You can utilize all the features of the copier right from your desktop computer, including stapling, double-sided printing, hole-punching, etc. Buying less office equipment and using the time-saving features of a copier could ultimately save you money.

Scanner

There are often instances when your business will need a scanner. A multi-function printer can also double as your office scanner. By feeding your document into the tray, you can send the scanned image to an email address or straight to your desktop, depending on your copier’s features.

Advanced scanner options for multifunction printers include:

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)—software that converts your scan into an editable electronic document
  • Dual imaging document feeders – provides simultaneous scanning of the front and back of a document

Fax

Email still hasn’t completely eliminated the need for a fax machine. There are some instances where you will need to send a fax. Fortunately, with a multi-function printer, there is no need to have a separate fax machine. Multi-function printers can send and receive faxes. Depending on your network interface, some multi-function printers can also send a fax from a computer.

Email

Most multi-function printers have email capability. Generally, there is an address book feature built into the machine’s software. You can enter and store frequently-used email addresses into the machine for quick recall. You can scan documents and send them to an email address.

Double-sided copies

The ability to print double-sided copies is a common and convenient feature. A large document printed double-sided uses half the amount of paper that would be required for one-sided printing, saving you money and sparing the environment.

Collate

If you have printed multiple copies of a document from your computer, you have probably used the collate option. Collating is a common feature of printing.

To collate a document means printing multiple copies of a multi-page document in the same order as the original multi-page document. It’s basically a way to determine what order your pages will print when you are printing multiple copies of a multi-page document.

Example of collating
If you have a 4-page document and want to print 4 copies, you will be printing a total of 16 pieces of paper. If you choose to use the collate option for your print job, the order of pages will print as shown below:

COLLATE FEATURE TURNED “ON”
example of four 4-page documents being printed as collated

Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

If the print job is not collated, the order will print like this:

example of four 4-page documents being printed as uncollated

Page 1, Page 1, Page 1, Page 1

Page 2, Page 2, Page 2, Page 2

Page 3, Page 3, Page 3, Page 3

Page 4, Page 4, Page 4, Page 4

Why would you want to collate?

While everyone’s printing needs will vary, if you are printing multiple copies of a multi-page document, you will probably want to collate. By collating, the printed pages will be in the exact order you want, without having to manually sort them afterward. Collating will save you and your business a lot of time.

Why wouldn’t you want to collate?

If a document is not order-based, then collating is not necessary. For example, if each individual page of a training document is written for a specific department and each department will need 4 copies of their own page, then you will not want to collate. Not collating will keep the individual pages together by department, making it easier for you to distribute 4 copies of each page to the appropriate department.

Do most printers or copiers have the collate option?

The short answer is yes.

Printers can easily collate because it is usually a setting offered by the software program you are using, such as Microsoft Word. When clicking to print multiple copies of a document, you can select the option to collate or not to collate.

Copiers usually have a setting in the preferences where you can select whether or not to collate. If this feature is important to you, be sure to confirm this with your dealer in advance.

Image Editing

Some copiers can edit the document you’re scanning before printing.

Some of the edits that can be made to your document include:

  • Automatic page numbering
  • Watermarks (“Confidential,” “Copy,” etc.)
  • Date stamps
  • Image rotation
  • Shrink multiple pages to fit on one

Security

If your multi-function printer will be receiving confidential faxes or have restricted access to only a few, you will want some built-in security. Some devices can be locked and require a code for use. If you are receiving confidential faxes, the faxes can be stored and locked until the code is entered.

Energy Saver

Copiers consume a decent amount of electricity. With an available Energy Saver mode, the device will automatically power down if it’s not used for a certain amount of time.

The benefits of this feature include:

  • Reduce your utility bill
  • Decrease the amount of wear and tear on the device
  • Reduce the carbon footprint on the environment

Feeders

You’re probably familiar with lifting up the cover of a printer-copier, setting your document down on the glass, closing the cover, and making a copy.

But what if you need to make copies of a document that’s 100 pages long?

With an automatic document feeder (ADF), you set all the pages in a tray. The feeder pulls all the pages, copies the pages, and prints the copied pages.

What if you need to make a lot of double-sided copies?

A recirculating automatic document feeder (RADF) flips the pages inside the machine, eventually scanning both sides.

A Dual Image Document Feeder (DIDF) will scan both sides of the page at the same time instead of flipping it inside of the machine. This feature is faster and may come at a higher price.

Sorting

Some copiers offer a sorting option. If you’re printing multiple copies of a multi-page document, the copier can print all the copies into one tray, but each group of pages will be offset from the next group of pages, making it easy for you to identify each group of copies.

Finishing

Some copiers have advanced finishing options. Depending on the finishing options your machine has, there may be an extra cost.

Some of the available options include:

  • Staple – If you tend to print multiple copies of multi-page documents that need to be stapled, you’re going to want a copier with a staple option. The copier can staple all the copies of your documents together for you. It’s a fairly common feature that’s convenient and saves you time.
  • Hole Punch – If you regularly print documents that need to be hole-punched, then the hole-punch feature will make your life a lot easier. By having the copier hole-punch your documents, you will save time and frustration. No more misaligned holes or uneven pages.
  • Folding – If your organization prints a lot of pamphlets that need to be folded, some copiers do have a folding option available.
  • Saddle-Stitch Binding – If you are looking for an even faster way to finish those pamphlets, you might consider saddle-stitch binding. This feature not only folds your documents, but staples them into booklet form. This is not the most common feature, but is available on some models. If you need saddle-stitch binding, be sure to mention that when you speak to a copier supplier.

Trays

Most copiers have multiple trays for different kinds of paper. Each tray typically holds at least 50 to 100 sheets of paper, and at most 3,000 sheets of paper. Many office copiers have one tray designed for a fixed size of paper and another tray that is adjustable according to your print job.

If you frequently need to print different size pages or different paper stocks, you may want multiple trays to accommodate the different sizes or types of paper. These might include:

  • Standard size
  • Letterhead
  • Legal size
  • Different paper stocks
  • Transparencies

But the number of trays will completely depend on the needs of your business. For example, if you outsource the printing of newsletters for your organization, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a copier so you can do the printing in-house. Discuss your printing needs with a supplier to figure out what kind of paper trays you will need.

Leasing vs. Buying

Buying

Purchasing a copier outright can be an expensive upfront cost that your business may not be able to afford. However, by purchasing, you own the unit outright and can use it for many years to come.

Ultimately, purchasing an office copier can prove to be cheaper than leasing, but that means you’re on your own for any repairs. Also, you won’t be able to upgrade as frequently as you would with a leased unit.

Leasing

Leasing a copier can ultimately cost you more than if you had purchased the unit outright. But leasing will lower your upfront cost and allow you to work a monthly payment for your office copier into your budget.

Some leases charge per copy and may include monthly minimums. Other leases allow you to walk away at any time. Leases often include a maintenance agreement that covers mechanical problems with the machine during the term of the lease. And often times, there is an option to upgrade to a newer unit, which is beneficial in the world of ever-changing technology.

chart showing pros and cons of leasing vs. buying a copy machine

Used and Refurbished Copiers

What’s the difference between used and refurbished copiers?

If you’re not interested in paying full price for a commercial copier, an affordable alternative is to purchase a used, refurbished or re-manufactured copier.

What is the difference between a used, refurbished or re-manufactured copier? Not knowing the difference could dramatically affect the quality of copier you get and how much you are going pay.

used commercial copier is a machine that is sold without any repairs or updates, and very minimal cleaning or testing. More often than not, these machines are sold “as is”, either without a warranty or with one as short as 14 days.

Refurbished commercial copiers have been audited, cleaned, tested, updated and had any necessary parts replaced by a third party (not the manufacturer). These machines are typically used less than three months and will come with a “same as brand new” warranty.

A re-manufactured copier is almost exactly the same as a refurbished copier. The only difference is that a re-manufactured copier is serviced and resold by the manufacturer while a refurbished machine is serviced and resold by a third party.

chart showing differences between used and refurbished copiers


Tips

Pricing

The size, speed, and available features of your copier will affect the price. 

Think: Faster + More Features = More Expensive.

While it is difficult to give an exact price estimate without knowing your specific situation, we’ve provided ballpark estimates of copier costs by copier speed in the chart below.

chart showing copier price based on speed

How to get the best price when purchasing a copier

If you’re thinking about purchasing a copier, think of it like buying a new car. Only suckers go to a car dealership and pay sticker price. Car dealers overprice their inventory and allow for wiggle room to negotiate on price. Copier suppliers do the same thing. Don’t get suckered into paying list price.

Avoid paying list price with these negotiating tips:

  • Know your needs

    It’s critical that you know what your needs are before making a purchase. By knowing your needs, you will avoid paying extra for features you don’t need. For example, if your office never prints in color, there is no reason for you to pay 20% to 30% more for a color copier. A reputable commercial copier supplier can walk you through the process to determine what is right for you.

  • Do your homework

    This buyer’s guide is a great place to start with your copier research. Once you’ve narrowed down what your needs are, start researching online for copiers that fit your criteria. This will give you an idea of of how much the type of copier you want costs as well as knowing a base price to start your negotiations.

  • Weigh Service Contracts

    If you are planning to purchase an extended service contract on your copier, the copier supplier may be willing to lower your price. However, a service contract may ultimately be a bad investment. Copiers are much more reliable nowadays. A service contract is like an insurance policy. You may be paying for it and rarely, if ever, get any kind of return on that financial investment. Carefully weigh the value of a service contract with the potential discount.

  • Ask for a Trade-in

    Going back to the car dealership analogy, if you already have a copier, you may be able to trade-in with your purchase. If you do have a trade, it would be best to wait until the end of the negotiation to mention it. If you mention your trade at the beginning, the copier supplier may inflate the value of your trade-in to disguise what is an inferior deal.

  • Buy Used

    If a brand new copier is out of your price range, you may want to consider a used copier. Many copier suppliers have refurbished units that come with limited warranties. A used copier can save you a lot of upfront costs and will last for many years. (link to used/refurbished section)

  • Consider Leasing

    Again, if buying a new copier is out of your price range, consider leasing one. It won’t be as expensive initially since you will pay a monthly rate. If you haven’t considered leasing, browse the next section.

How to get the best price when leasing a copier

If leasing is the best option for you, here are common mistakes you will want to avoid:

  • Don’t overpay

    A copier salesperson is similar to a car salesperson in some regards. They will spend the conversation focusing on the monthly rate. They want to know what you can afford per month. This could distract you from realizing that the actual value of the copier is overpriced.

    Instead of discussing monthly payments, negotiate the price of the copier as if you were planning to purchase it. Like brand new cars, the list price of a copier is open to negotiation. Once you have negotiated the purchase price of the copier, the salesperson can then calculate your monthly lease payment based on the negotiated price.

  • Don’t include service

    Copier dealers try to bundle a service contract into your lease but say no. Never include service with your lease. If your lease is tied to a service contract but you are dissatisfied with the service you are getting, you will be stuck. Copiers on the market today are more reliable than in the past. It will likely be cheaper to pay for repairs on an as-needed basis than to commit yourself to a service contract.

  • Don’t sign a long contract.

    Most buyers should not sign a contract that is longer than 36 months. With a few exceptions, 36 months is the maximum commitment to make on a leased copier. There are a couple of reasons for this:

    • If anything goes wrong with your copier and you are on a 4-5 year lease, you are locked in  with the machine.
    • Technology for copiers is constantly improving. A shorter term lease makes it easier to upgrade, but a longer contract may delay a more modern copier for years.
  • Don’t ignore the expiration date.

    Make sure you read and understand your leasing contract. In some instances, the contract may not require the finance company to notify you when the lease has expired. If you keep making payments, your obligations may be extended beyond the original term of the lease. This type of lease is commonly called an ever-green clause, which allows the leasing company to make additional charges beyond the original cost of the equipment. Take ownership of your lease and keep track of your payments. Know when your lease expires.

  • Make a plan when your lease ends.

    You have different options to choose from at the end of your lease. Before you sign your lease, plan ahead and select the option that will best suit your needs. The options at the end of your lease are:

    • Purchase Copier For $1/Higher Monthly Payments
      At the end of your lease, you can purchase the copier for $1. With this method, your lease payments will build the highest equity toward the copier. (Note: this is why you negotiated a lower cost for the copier). This option will result in higher monthly payments. Select this option if you believe you will want to keep the copier after the lease expires.
    • Purchase Copier For 10% Of Value/Lower Monthly Payments
      With this option, you will have the right to purchase the machine for a fee of 10% of the original value. Your monthly payments will be lower than in the first option. This option is best if you are not sure that you will want to keep the copier when the lease expires.
    • Purchase Copier For “Fair Market Value”/Lowest Monthly Payments
      If you know you will not keep the copier after the lease expires, choose this option. This option will give you the lowest available monthly payments. At the end of the lease, you will have the option to purchase the copier at fair market value, which is usually a bit more than 10% of the original value. If you choose this option and later decide you want to keep the copier, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Remember, buying a copier is like buying a car. You can always negotiate.

Ultimately, whether you choose to lease or buy a copier will depend on your specific needs and financial situation. A reputable copier dealer can help you assess your business needs and help you make the right choice.

Tips for Buying Used

If the price of a new model commercial copier is too staggering, buying a used or refurbished copier can literally save you reams of green. You can get exactly what you need in an older model and save 50-70% off the price of a new copier.

Answer these questions to make the best purchasing decisions.

  • What do you need the copier to do?

    Take into account that modern commercial copiers are multi-function products capable of much more than printing. Before contacting a supplier, decide what features are important to you and your business, such as color print, scan, fax, sort/staple features, etc. Older models may not have the extras you are looking for, so it is important to ask up front.

  • What is your print volume?

    Figure out a rough estimate of your company’s monthly paper consumption and add 20% to account for future growth. It is important to choose a copier that can handle your business output. Overloading an older machine can lead to frustrating downtime while the copier is being repaired.

  • How fast do you need to print?

    As a copier ages, its printing speed can decrease. Commercial copier speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm): the number of letter-size pages the machine can produce in one minute when running at full speed. Most offices are comfortable with a machine in the 20-50 ppm range. Be sure the used or refurbished copier you choose can handle your business print volume.

  • What is your budget?

    Set a range for what you are willing to spend on the machine. Most used or refurbished commercial copiers are business or production models. For a mid-range business copier, you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $2,000. A production copier can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $17,000.

4 Steps for Choosing the Best Used/Refurbished Copier

After answering all the preliminary questions, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of buying a used or refurbished copier. Just because you find an older copier that meets your needs and is within your budget does not mean it is a great deal.

Consider these tips to help you choose the best used or refurbished copier for your business:

  1. Check the Performance.

    You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it around the block first. The same goes for buying a copier. When looking at a used or refurbished copier, one of the most important things to do is to take a “test drive” of the machine to see how well it performs. Some things you should do during inspection are:

    • print a sample job
    • open every door or drawer using a flashlight to look for damage
    • note the model number and look it up online to verify the age of the copier
    • check the odometer to track the machine’s total usage
    • verify that the network card works
    • make sure the menu system is functioning properly
    • verify that any serviced or replaced parts are secure and working well
  2. Consider the Age of the Machine.

    The older a copier machine is and the more it has been used, the faster it depreciates in value and cost. This is why it is important to check the date of a used or refurbished copier before buying. Most copier machines have the date of manufacture clearly stamped near the serial number. The lifespan of a copier is generally around 3-4 years, depending on how well it was maintained. When buying used or refurbished copiers, a general rule of thumb is this: Do not buy a machine that is older than 5 years. Models that are older than 5 years tend to have outdated technology and will usually require extensive maintenance and repair.

  3. Consider the Ink or Toner Used.

    When buying a used or refurbished copier, it is important to know what type of ink or toner the machine has been/is using. When examining used copiers for sale, you want to know if they’ve been using aftermarket toner that may have gummed up the machine more than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) toner. It is also possible that you may be buying a copier whose toner or ink is no longer easily available for purchase. Verify that the materials needed to print are still available in office supply stores. Buying a copier that uses outdated toner or ink will lead to a higher cost of operation over time once the materials run out.

  4. Double Check the Warranty.

    Even a used or refurbished copier can cost thousands of dollars, so make sure your investment is protected. Some warranties can last as little as two weeks or as long as a year, but either way, it’s important to know how long you are covered in case any issues occur. The most common warranty time frames are 30, 60, or 90 days. After your warranty is up, it may not make sense to stick with the person you bought the copier from for maintenance. More often than not, using a reputable dealer in your area or going directly to the manufacturer for repairs can save you time and money.

  5. Don’t buy a small all-in-one printer

    Spending $150 on a printer from a chain office supply store is really only useful if you are working out of a home office. Because these printers are not built to handle high business copy volume, per-copy prices with an all-in-one printer are much higher and the output is much slower.

Copier Brands

Running a productive and efficient office begins with the right brand of commercial copier. In the world of office equipment, brand matters. The top copier manufacturers have years of experience and have built their reputation by producing quality equipment, reliable customer service, and technical support. Avoid the hassle of possible technical difficulties with your copy machine by investing in a reliable brand. Here are some of the top brands in the world of office copiers.

  • Canon
  • Ricoh
  • Konica Minolta
  • Xerox
  • Toshiba
  • Sharp
  • Kyocera
  • HP
  • Lexmark
  • Samsung
  • Dell
  • Brother

 

Choosing a Supplier

Take your commercial copier knowledge and starting shopping today. Fill out our form and we will put you in touch with reputable suppliers who will provide free price quotes and answer any questions you may have.


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