Choosing a color laser printer for your home business is more than a simple evaluation of features and purchase price. The ongoing print supplies’ expenses for laser toner cartridges and drum units can add up over time and should be carefully calculated to minimize the print cost per page (CPP). It’s possible that a color laser printer with a lower purchase price could cost more than other options in total and in long run.
The two primary categories of printing supplies are the drum unit and the toner cartridges. Not every printer is designed with a separate drum unit: in some models, the drum is integrated into the toner cartridges. A separate drum unit will usually have a greater page yield than the laser cartridges, so it’s important to calculate its cost per page separately.
A color laser printer will have four toner cartridges: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. The printer will mix the colors from these laser cartridges to generate text and images. Since the exact usage patterns can vary significantly between businesses and even from week to week within the same office, for analysis purposes it’s best to use the stated page yields per cartridge provided by the supplier.
Make sure you know exactly what printing supplies each of the printers under consideration needs. Research a variety of sources for those supplies. Don’t forget to take into account any applicable shipping or delivery charges. Also note the prices of any replacement laser cartridges that are available: the savings can be as much as 25-50% over OEM cartridges from the original manufacturer.
Calculating the cost per page is straightforward once the price data is gathered.
- Divide the cost of each toner cartridge and the drum unit by the stated page yield. For example, $130/25,000 pages = $.005 per page for a drum unit.
- Add the results of step 1 to find the total cost per page for each printer.
Using actual prices to compare two similar printers demonstrates the need to run the numbers:
Printer #1 Purchase price: $500 Total CPP: $0.12
Printer #2 Purchase price: $390 Total CPP: $0.17
Printer #1 is the better choice because of the lower cost of printing supplies. It will take only 2200 printed pages, or less than five reams of paper, to cover the higher purchase price.
Consider both acquisition and operating costs when selecting a color laser printer, and you can keep your company’s long-term printing costs to a minimum.