A Guide to Purchasing Copiers
There are a number of factors that should be reviewed when you consider changing over your copier.
The main ones are:
This includes not only the day-to-day copy charge costs but also the rental or capital component of keeping a copier in service. The following issues need to be considered: What is the current operating cost of the device? Would it be cheaper to keep the current one in service or invest in a newer device? Is there any incumbent charge associated with your present machine? (i.e. outstanding rental or commitment to the end of term, payout figure if you terminate a contract early?). If the changeover of a copier resulted in a higher operational cost would the additional features, generally inherent in newer models, be worth the extra expense? Would changing over to a digital machine, with the added flexibility to connect this to a network, result in the lowering of secondary overhead costs by improving productivity? (i.e. reduced labor costs or economies gained by the redirection of prints to a copier).
How to do a cost per page calculation? In order to discover your approximate cost per page, you’ll need to know the cost of each supply and its anticipated yield. The anticipated yield of supplies is usually based on 5% print coverage (5% print coverage is equal to about one page with 20 sentences in 12 point type). If you typically print more than 5% coverage, your yield for each toner will be less and your supplies cost per page will be higher. Add maintenance kits, fusers etc.., divided by their yields. Generally, the lower the aquisition cost for the device, the higher the cost per page for supplies.
For service, take the cost of a service contract and divide it by the number of anticipated prints/copies for the period of coverage. Total all of the supplies and service costs per page and you’ll have a total estimated service/supply cost per page.
Acquisition cost per page is determined by taking the purchase price divided by the number of months of estimated service divided by the estimated pages you will copy/print per month. Add the acquisition and service/supply cost per page to get total cost per page for the device.
- Analog copier is "light lens" machine.
- Digital copiers that first scan, digitize and store the image before reproducing them.
- Multifunction (MFC) devices scan, print, copy and fax.
- Networked photocopier doubles as a printer
3. Selecting the Right Features
4. Selecting the Capacity / Volume
As a rule of thumb the average monthly volume is determined by the typical daily volume: dividing the monthly total by 20 (ie. assumes average of 20 working days per month). Assuming that you will not want to have someone check and refill the copier more than once daily, then multiply the daily average figure by 1.5 in order to provide a reasonable buffer. Round the number up to the nearest multiple of 500 pages (ie. one ream) to a maximum of 5000 sheets. The calculated figure is an estimate of the minimum capacity of the main bin or tray. If the machine you are contemplating does not have a large capacity feed unit to match the calculated capacity it is a fair bet that the machine is not fast / large enough for your needs. Within a ± 25% range then it will probably suffice.
A). Average monthly volume = 30,000 copies
Capacity = (30,000/20) x 1.5
Round up to 2500 sheets
B). Average monthly volume = 10,000 copies
Capacity = (10,000/20) x 1.5
Round up to 1000 sheets
6. How To Match Copy Volumes to Speed (Black only)
less than 8,000
up to 20 ppm
Be careful - very low speed copiers / MFC are only suitable
as desktop machines doing a few hundred copies/ month
8,000 - 10,000
20 - 25 ppm
Most copiers in this range now come with advanced options
such as document feeders, sorters, finishers etc.
10,000 - 20,000
25 - 35 ppm
If speed is a priority, then keep an eye on the more economically
priced 40 ppm machines
20,000 - 30,000
35 - 45 ppm
Some vendors promote a 50 -60 ppm machine for this range
but this isn't really necessary
30,000 - 40,000
45 - 49 ppm
Upper mid-volume territory. Consider 50-60 ppm
if speed is a priority
30,000 - 40,000
50 - 60 ppm
If on a tight budget or speed is not a priority,
then consider a 45 - 49 ppm
40,000 - 75,000
50 - 90 ppm
The 50-60 ppm recommended above can go higher than 40,000
copies/month. However, speed will be the determining factor.
75,000 - 100,000
75 - 100 ppm
This volume is in the high volume usage range.
7. Cost Considerations - Working Out The Total Cost of Ownership TOC
It is fair to say that many organizations do not really know what their copier costs them to operate - yet it
is one of the most used and costly commodities in a modern office. The information on this page should
help in establishing the cost of your current copier or assist in determining the cost of a new copier.
1. Cost of operating your existing copier against the anticipated cost of the replacement machine.
2. An indication as to the suitability
3. Cost of different financing options (ie. rental, purchase, lease, or "click charge" cost per copy or flat rate copy plans).
Two major components that contribute to the cost of owning and operating a photocopier.
1. Capital Component
• The purchase price of the copier plus options;
• The rental cost, spread over the full rental term;
• The leasing cost, spread over the lease term.
• In the case of a purchased item, it is advisable to spread this over the anticipated or planned "life cycle" of the copier. Generally this will be three to five years. A good rule is to plan for four years.
2. Copy Charge (maintenance)
A copy charge rate (ie. cents per copy) that is applied against each copy done on the machine. This usually covers the cost of toner, parts, drums and general preventative maintenance. The copy charge is generally billed separately (typically monthly) by invoices raised against periodic meter readings. It does not include the cost of paper.
8. Copy Plan Agreements (click charge).
1. The total cost of renting the capital component of the copier, over the full term, and the copy charge for the total number of copies contracted to be run over the full term.
2. Divide the sum of these two components by the total number of copies to arrive at a net cost per copy (click charge rate). The crucial factor in determining the click charge is the total number of copies. An acceptable net cost per copy (excluding paper) is between 2.0 and 3.0 cents per copy (excluding options such as integrated fax machines etc.). A net cost per copy of about 2.5 cents is ok.
If budget is the driving factor for you or you have modest copying needs, an analog copier might be the
best option for you. Although few manufacturers are introducing new analog copy machines, they are still
easy to find and are (generally) the least expensive type of copier. Pricing for a basic analog copier starts
at around $200 and can go up to several thousand, depending on features.
If you're looking to perform fax or printing functions through your copier, you will need a digital copy
machine. Apart from these functions, digital copiers do have some advantages over analog, including:
less noise, fewer moving parts, better copy quality in some instances (i.e., photos), and better
reduction/enlargement capabilities. Black and white digital copiers start at around $700 on the low end of
the range, and the highest-end models can cost more than $100,000.
Color copiers use digital laser technology and can duplicate in black and white as well. Most color
copiers can be configured to act as a color printer, and you can also get an ink-jet color printer with
scanning capabilities that will essentially function as a color copier. Color ink-jet printers with scanning
start at around $800, while true digital color copiers start at around a few thousand dollars and can cost
as much as $100,000 and more
Features and Functions to Look For in a Copy Machine
Once you have identified the general type of copy machine that will fit your needs, there are other
features and functions to consider. The desirability and pricing of these features will help you narrow
down your choices for a specific copy machine.
The number of copies you make in a month.
Copies per minute (CPM) refers specifically to the number of letter-sized copies the machine can
produce in one minute when running at full speed. This does not include making two-sided copies,
copying on to larger sheets, automatic feeding or sorting, or any other advanced function.
A document feeder allows you to copy multi-page documents without having to lift and lower the cover
for every individual sheet.
Sorters and staplers
A sorter will help organize multiple sets of multi-page documents. A stapler gives you the option of
stapling your multi-page documents together.
A duplexer allows you to copy on to both sides of a single sheet of paper.
Paper supply refers to the sets of trays and holders that hold paper inside the copier. Standard trays
typically hold 50 to 100 sheets, and the largest-capacity trays can hold up to 3,000 sheets.
Paper sources refers to the number of different paper trays available; such as trays that hold standard
sheets (which can be loaded with letterhead, colored paper, etc.), legal-sized sheets, etc.
When you purchase or lease a copier from a dealer, you will need to arrange for servicing of the copy
machine, both on a routine and emergency basis. Service agreements are typically based on the number
of copies that are made in a given time period. Your copier usage is likely to fluctuate month to month, so
be careful of the term that you agree to as well as the term minimum. Monthly minimums might be costly
if your usage varies considerably from month to month, and overestimating might be costly because you
typically aren't reimbursed for the difference in committed usage and actual usage. You might consider a
service agreement that charges you for only the copies you make, and/or has lower monthly payments
and a higher per-copy fee.
Most service agreements cover the costs of parts and labor for repairing and maintaining your copier.
However, the definition of parts can vary among service agreements. Replacement parts that break
during use, as well as parts that wear out over time (fuser rollers, cleaning blades, etc.) are almost
always covered. The costs of consumables such as paper and toner are usually excluded. However,
there are items, such as the copier drum (or photoconductor), that can alternately be considered either
replacement parts or consumables. Replacing the copier drum can cost several hundred dollars, so
make sure that the service agreement explicitly states what is covered and what is not.
For emergency repairs above and beyond routine maintenance, make sure to find out whether these
costs are covered in full or priced on a per-incident basis. Also, make sure to get a commitment in terms
of response time (usually four hours or less) and service hours (nights, weekends, etc.).
Buyers often don't realize that they don't have to buy a service agreement and/or consumables from the
same dealer who sold or leased them the copier. Sometimes, you can find a better deal by getting your
service agreement somewhere else.
If budget is of utmost concern for you, make sure to explore the option of buying a refurbished copy
machine; they can usually be purchased or even leased for about two-thirds of the price of a new copier.
Color copiers usually require about four times as many service calls as black and white copiers. They
also usually require servicing after every 5,000 color copies, compared to after every 100,000 copies for
black and white machines.
In conclusion, we hope you have found the information useful. We recognize that this guide was in no
way exhaustive, and that there is more to copiers and digital output devices than what is included here.
We suggest that you use the information in this guide as a starting point in your search for the right copy
machine for you.
Glossary of common terms used in the photocopier industry
ADF Automatic Document Feeder. The abbreviation ADF on its own refers to the simplest type of feeder that is able to process only single-sided originals (in contrast to RADFs which can also handle double-sided ones).
ADFs on analog copiers require sorter bins in order to produce multiple sets of multi-page documents - the machine makes all the copies of each page in a batch, depositing one copy in each sorter bin. ADFs on digital copiers do not require sorter bins if the unit operates with scan-once/print-many technology - the originals are instead scanned to
memory, and complete sets are output sequentially on top of one another in a catch tray. Check out the capacity of the ADF (typically 30 - 50 sheets) and the speed at which it operates (typically the same as the engine speed of the
copier it works with but sometimes a bit slower.
Traditional copier technology, employing the "light lens" method to reproduce originals (as opposed to scanning them electronically as on digital copiers).
Allows you to feed non-standard paper without having to put it in one of the main paper trays. Useful when you want to feed paper that's especially difficult to copy onto - for example, very light or heavy paper - as the paper path is straighter and the chances of jamming are reduced. Most copiers have a bypass of some sort. With some you can feed only one sheet at a time, while others allow you to stack up to 50 or 100 sheets.
Simple output tray that receives copied pages. Buyers of analog units with RADFs require sorter bins in place of catch trays if they want to produce collated output. Digital units with scan once/print many are able to deliver collated sets to catch trays with out the need for sorter bins.
A cost per copy charge that is levied to cover both the capital component and the operating cost of owning a photocopier. The click charge generally relies on meeting a minimum monthly copy volume and is calculated by the supplier by adding the standard copy charge to the monthly rental component. To work out the net cost per copy (Click charge) you have to work to an agreed copy volume. Click charges form the basis of most Copy Plan agreements.
In a copier context, this refers to a device that upgrades a digital copier into a multifunctional device with a printer function. Can be either an internal device built into the copier or an external one (sometimes based on PC hardware)
that sits next to it. Sometimes referred to as "RIP" (raster image processor).
Feature that restricts access to authorized persons and/or records details of usage. Can be useful when copies have to be expensed to departments or billed to clients. Typically operates by means of users entering PIN codes on a copiers control panel. Check out the number of accounts the feature can handle - typically anything from fewer than 50 to several thousand. Also check the number of digits in the account codes. If you find that the inbuilt capabilities don't meet your needs, consider a third-party add-on.
Usually refers to a fixed rate (cents per copy) used to cover the maintenance of a copier as distinct from the capital component of the unit (ie. purchase, rent or lease cost).
The copy charge generally covers the operating cost of a unit providing all preventative maintenance costs, toner, and drum replacement in addition to the replacement of most items subject to wear and tear. In some instances the copy charge can cover the capital component by adding this to the operating charge - this is often called a "click charge".
Custom message annotation
Feature found on certain digital copiers that enables you to have a message stamped on copies and that allows you to vary what the message is (in contrast to a more limited feature that restricts you to a few factory-preset messages such as "Urgent", "Confidential", etc).
Feature found on some digital copiers allowing you to have the date and time stamped on copies as they are made.
State-of-the-art copier technology. Digital copiers scan and digitize originals before reproducing them (as opposed to using the analog "light lens" method) essentially; they are converting images to computerized data. All multifunctional copiers are digital, though not all digital copiers are multifunctional.
Double-sided copying. Keep in mind that double-sided copying results in slower operation - manufacturers do not publish duplex speeds. Most machines use the internal tray method of duplexing, where sheets are stacked after the first side has been copied prior to being copied on the other side. Note that the number of double-sided copies that can be made in a single run is limited by the capacity of the duplex tray - typically 50 sheets, but sometimes less.
Some machines (especially digital units) instead use a stackless method of duplexing - this frees you from the run-length constraint of the tray method.
Output device, usually with an automatic-stapling device. For reasons having more to do with copier history than logic, the verb "to finish" is generally used only to describe the stapling process that occurs with output catch trays (OCT),
not the stapling function carried out by stapler-sorters. The word "finisher" is often used to describe the entire OCT/stapling device, not just the stapling part - i.e., if you hear someone say a unit has a finisher, offset stacking is implied. Finishing on OCT equipped units often takes place without any material effect on job time, in contrast with stapling on stapler-sorters, which invariable adds to job time.
Feature on some digital copiers that automatically align the image with the paper when the correct orientation isn't present to begin with. Can also be used to deliver alternate sets rotated at a 90-degree angle for separation purposes when producing multiple copies of multi-page documents (this works with paper fed long- and short-edge from two different trays). However, this has a negative impact on job times and is only appropriate on entry-level digital configurations where there is not catch tray with mechanical offsetting
Common feature allowing you to shift the image of your original a little way across the page to leave a margin for binding. With duplex copiers, the margin position can be altered automatically from left to right side of a bound document. Also known as "margin shift".
Feature allowing you to program a job so that selected pages - the start of new sections within a document, for example - can be copied onto different paper drawn from one of the other paper trays. You can generally copy onto the insert sheets, as opposed to just having the unit insert blank ones. Also known as "sheet insertion". Some vendors have a "post engine cover insertion" mode whereby covers can be added at the output stage (finisher) without having the problem of
feeding thicker card stock through the fusing rollers. This can be an advantage if you need to put thicker covers around booklets.
Feature allowing you to program a sequence of instructions needed to execute a complicated copying job, so that you can set it all in motion at the press of just one or two buttons. Not to be confused with the image memory that holds scanned copies on a digital unit.
LCT / LCB
Large-capacity tray. Generally refers to a paper tray holding 1,000 sheets or more. Can also be referred to as a Large Capacity Bin (LCB)
Network Interface Card (NIC)
Required for networking a multifunctional copier-printer. The most common standard is Ethernet, which comes in two main flavors: 10BaseT and the newer and faster 100BaseT. The NIC is often part of the controller and not priced separately. In some cases, however, it is presented as a separate item.
Offset catch tray. A device that receives copied pages, mechanically offsetting each
We tend to use the words "drawer" and "tray" interchangeably when talking about paper supplies. These days, the standard paper supplies are almost always frontloading, as are some options, but large-capacity trays holding
1,000 sheets or more may be attached to the side of the copier. Check out both the number of paper trays and their capacities.
The glass surface on which originals are placed for copying. With a document feeder, your originals are transported to and from the platen automatically; the only occasions you manually copy from the platen tend to be with originals that are awkward or impossible to feed. Platen sizes vary and can be typically A3 or A2 sized.
In most digital units, the original is passed across a scanning window rather than being deposited on the platen for copying as they are in analog copiers. In digital units, therefore, the platen is used solely for the manual feeding of originals.
PPM (Pages Per Minute)
Measure of a unit's engine speed when making A4-size copies. Many people use "copies per minute" (cpm) instead, though ppm is also appropriate for multi-functional units with both copy and print functions - either way, the ppm and cpm figures are the same. The ppm/cpm speed is best viewed as that which the copier is guaranteed not to exceed, not that which it will generally maintain in real-life jobs. In practice, the selection of features such as double-sided copying, stapling and sorting can all impact real-life speeds, and short-run work will generally result in fewer copies per minute being made than on longer-run work.
Reversing Automatic Document Feeder. A type of document feeder that can handle double as well as single sided originals in contrast to an ADF that work only with single-sided originals.
RADFs on analogue copiers require sorter bins in order to produce multiple sets of multi-page documents - the unit makes all the copies of each page in a batch, depositing one copy in each sorter bin. RADFs on digital copiers do
not require sorter bins, providing the unit operating with scan-once/print many technology. The originals are instead scanned to memory and complete sets are output sequentially on top of one another in a catch tray. Check out the
capacity of the RADF (typically 30 - 50 sheets) and the speed at which it operates "typically the same as the engine speed of the copier it works with, but sometimes a bit slower).
Recirculating Document Feeder. A term used to describe a hybrid document feeder with elements of RADF and RDH technology.
An RDF can work with either sorter bins or an OCT. When used with certain sorters, it can automatically resume copying when the bins are emptied if you need more than 20 sets - this is because the originals are returned to the
"ready" position, as opposed to being ejected as with an RADF.
Recirculating Document Handler. A type of document feeder found on some analogue copiers that enables you to produce multiple collated copies of multi-page documents without the need for sorter bins. Found mostly in the
An RDH copies one complete set after another by constantly recirculating the originals (as opposed to making all the copies of each page in a batch).
Works with an output device called an offset catch tray (OCT) or finisher that received and with finishers - staples the sets as they are output, offsetting each one slightly for separation purposes. The main benefit is that it removes the quantity restraint on multi-page collated copying imposed by the number of sorter bins. (The only limit is the capacity of the OCT itself, which varies from 500 - 2000 sheets). Another benefit that the auto stapling process at the output end can have no noticeable effect on job time (in contrast to auto-stapling on sorters, which adds to job time). The main drawback is that the constant recirculating of originals raises the risk of miss-feeds and damage/marking to originals.
RDH technology offers nothing you can't get on digital machines with scan once / print many that use conventional document feeders - for this reason, RDHs have limited future with the introduction of digital copiers.
Feature allowing users to either reduce or enlarge an image when producing copies. Most modern copiers come standard with this capability. See also zoom.
Scan once - print many
Used to describe the reproduction method of digital units that scan in a copy of the original image once, digitize the image and store it and use this to reproduce many copies. By contrast, with analog copiers, you may have to reload and "scan" the image on a number of occasions if the number of required copies exceeds the capacity of the sorter bins.
Scan while print
Enhanced version of scan once/print many that allows users to scan a copy job while the unit is in the process of printing (or outputting a previously scanned copy job). Some digital machines lack this capability and of those that have it, most are unable to scan more than one job ahead. It is handy for reducing contention on multifunctional units when different people are tying to use the same machine.
Refers to single-sided copying (in contrast with duplex, which is double sided).
A multi-bin device for collating pages as you make multiple copies of multi-page originals. Typically used on analog copiers working with ADFs and RADFs. Also used on digital units lacking scan-once/print many technology.
Check out the number of bins (generally 10 or 20) and the bin capacity (generally 20 - 50 sheets). The number of bins generally represents the limit on the number of sets that can be copied in an uninterrupted operation.
A type of sorter device that staples copied sets automatically after the pages have been delivered to the bins. Typically used on analog copiers working with ADFs and RADFs.
As with regular sorters, the number of bins generally represents the limit on the number of sets that can be copied in an uninterrupted operation. Stapling adds to job time - e.g. about 35 seconds for 20 sets. Look at the maximum
number of sheets that can be stapled.
This generally varies from 2 to 50 sheets (it may be less than the capacity of the bins for unstapled sheets). Also check out the number of staples and staple positions - less expensive models can only put in one staple in the top left corner of a letter size page.
Important: you need a multi-position stapler-sorter if you want to staple legal sets with the staple in the top left corner.
Reduction/enlargement feature allowing you to select the magnification ration, typically in 1% increments. Most analog copiers offer a zoom range of somewhere between 60-140% and 50-200%. Digital models offer ratios of 25-400% and wider. Units with zoom also have preset ratios.