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 user 2005-06-06 at 10:32:00 am Views: 80
  • #9777

    Time to dump your inkjet?

    Total Cost of Ownership and the laser printer: what printer
    purchaser should know
    June 2005

    Everyone knows colour inkjet printers are cheap: you can buy one
    for £25, and they’re given away with new PCs in the consumer market.

    But everyone also knows they’re expensive to run. Depending on
    the manufacturer and model, a new set of ink cartridges will often cost as much
    as the printer. In tests run in 2003, Which? magazine famously compared the cost
    of HP’s ink – at £1.70 per millilitre – with vintage 1985 Dom Perignon at £0.23
    per millilitre.

    Purchase price

    Which? came to the conclusion that unless printing high-quality
    photos was your priority, on the running costs of consumables alone, you were
    better off with a colour laser.

    But what about the purchase price? Which? ran its tests two
    years ago, when even entry-level colour lasers cost between £500 and £700,
    whereas an entry-level colour laser is now around the £300 mark.

    Total cost of ownership

    In a report aimed at helping schools decide the best-value
    printers to buy, Sheffield City Council calculated total cost of ownership (TCO)
    over the lifetime of a printer.

    Adding up all the running costs – ink or toner, paper,
    maintenance and even electricity – SCC worked out that a colour inkjet costs a
    minimum of £0.38 per page to run; a colour laser costs a minimum of £0.07 per

    If you print, let’s say 50 pages a week over 50 weeks of the
    year, using SCC’s cost per page figures, the running cost of the inkjet for a
    year will be £950, and for the laser £175.

    Now put these figures into a simple TCO table that compares an
    entry-level inkjet with a colour laser that costs 16 times more than the inkjet
    to buy.

    Printer purchase £ 3 year running cost total
    colour laser £500 £525 £1025
    inkjet £30 £2,850 £2,880

    As you can see, over three years the inkjet is nearly three
    times more expensive to own. Even if you changed your printer every year, the
    colour laser would still work out cheaper by over £300.

    No wonder Sheffield City Council advised its schools that if
    they printed more than three colour pages a day (assuming a 40-week academic
    year) they should buy a laser. “Looking at total costs, the inkjet printer looks
    like economic suicide,” concluded the report.


    There are two other points to remember about the running costs
    of inkjets.

    First, you can’t store ink cartridges indefinitely. In fact most
    inkjet manufacturers advise you not to keep cartridges for longer than six
    months because the ink becomes more viscous with age and clogs up the
    microscopic jets in the print-head. So you can’t buy ink cartridges cheaply in
    bulk and store them.

    Second, organisations that keep stocks of ink cartridges tend to
    suffer what is know as ‘staff-related shrinkage’ – employees ‘borrow’ ink
    cartridges for their printers at home.


    One way of cutting paper costs is to print both sides (duplex)
    where possible. Lasers can do this easily, but anyone who has tried this with
    pages of graphics on an inkjet knows the results are rather soggy


    So far, we have only discussed the TCO of printers in terms of
    purchase price and running costs, which are easily identifiable. It’s less easy
    to calculate the effect the speed of a printer has on office

    Printer speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm).
    Manufacturers’ ppm figures are always ideal, but you can expect a laser printer
    to perform closer to the ideal in real life than an inkjet.

    Page per minute figures for inkjets are based on Draft mode and
    often refer to printing only a few characters on the page. So you can expect an
    inkjet to print full pages of text at about 5ppm and graphics (depending on
    complexity) at about 1ppm – which makes nonsense of inkjets that claim 20ppm
    output speed.

    But lasers print engines are more Ronseal – they do more or less
    what it says on the tin – whether they are printing a few lines of text or a
    page of graphics. You can expect a laser with an engine rated at 20ppm to chew
    through text at around 15-17ppm and complex graphics at 10ppm.

    What this means in practice is that the slower the printer the
    more time people will have to wait for their prints. That’s fine if they’ve got
    other tasks to do while they wait, but otherwise it’s unproductive time. If
    you’ve ever printed a colour presentation on an inkjet, you will know that it
    pays to have something else to be getting on with in the meantime.

    Scale this problem up to an office of, say, 10 people and you
    can see how slow inkjets will make a big dent in productivity. You won’t see the
    money being spent, as you would signing off POs for ink cartridges, but it’s
    being wasted nonetheless.

    Networked colour laser

    The alternative to this scenario is to take away all the
    personal printers and buy the fastest, most richly featured colour laser your
    budget will stretch to and network it for everyone in the office to

    One big printer shared among 10 people will be a lot cheaper to
    run than three smaller printers – remember over three years one inkjet was
    almost three times more expensive to run than a laser that cost 16 times as much
    to buy.

    Apart from running costs, think of the increased productivity
    everyone will benefit from by using a faster printer, having colour on tap when
    they need it and the productivity-enhancing features, such as automatic
    collating, that come with advanced printers.

    On-demand printing

    Once you own such a machine, the financially beneficial uses to
    which it can be put multiply.

    Printing jobs that you currently put out to a print shop – for
    example, colour brochures or direct mail-shots – can be brought in house. Not
    only will you avoid paying a print shop bill, but you won’t be constrained by
    the print shop’s minimum quantity. If you want only five brochures right now,
    that’s all you have to print.

    Printing on-demand in this way is economical and flexible: you
    don’t have to pay for minimum quantity; you don’t have to store the extras; you
    don’t have to scrap extras when the brochure is out of date – you simply edit it
    and print the new version as required.

    Creative spin-offs

    This flexibility means you can afford to be more creative with
    your marketing collateral and make your company look more professional. And that
    may be just what tips the balance when it comes to winning the next


    Digital prints increase, home inkjet
    use losing ground

     May 2005  The volume of
    prints made from digital still camera images increased by 69 percent for the
    year ended February 2005, according to the most recent PMA Processing Survey.
    Online printing accelerated, reaching 207 percent in the 12 months ended
    February 2005.

    Printing volumes on retail minilabs grew more than twice as fast as the
    overall rate of 69 percent. Growth in home printing has slowed down in the past
    few months. For the period of March 2004 through February 2005, the volume of
    prints made at home grew by only 18 percent, the lowest growth rate reported so
    far. This is also below digital camera unit growth, which exceeded 35 percent in

    The rapid growth in the volume of prints made by retailers or on kiosks has
    resulted in the shift of digital printing share away from home printers and
    toward other printing options. For the year ending in February, 51 percent of
    digital prints were made on home printers, down from 73 percent in the year
    earlier period. Including prints made on kiosks, local retailers nearly doubled
    their share as their percent increased from 18.8 percent to 35.1 percent (the
    sum of retail and kiosk methods, excluding online orders).

    The online share reported here includes orders placed at both
    brick-and-mortar and pure online service providers. For the period of March 2004
    through February 2005 this share went to 10.4 percent from 5.7 percent the
    previous year. According to the survey, as of February, almost one out of five
    prints ordered online were picked up at a retail location