Try as you might you just can’t avoid it any longer: you need to obtain a photocopier for your business. It’s a task with the potential for causing much confusion and throwing up a headache inducing amount of options. That’s why you’ve been putting it off.
Perhaps the copier you have just isn’t big enough for you anymore. Perhaps you’re not even sure you need a photocopier yet. In any case, you need to start somewhere and you need some quality information to set you off on the right track.
Luckily, we’ve compiled a quick list of FAQs and misconceptions on buying photocopiers for business.
I only use the copier once in a while, what kind do I need?
Photocopiers come in various sizes and with a number of special features. The most basic form of copier is a combined printer/scanner/copier of the kind you can pick up from a consumer electronics retailer or which are sometimes bundled with PCs. They are suitable for low usage but the costs can quickly escalate if you start using them very frequently or for larger jobs. This is because they use inkjet cartridges which are very expensive (in fact, the printers are usually sold at a loss because the manufacturers expect to make their profits from the sale of brand-specific cartridges). Genuine photocopiers use toner rather than ink. This requires a larger initial outlay – the cheapest desktop copiers are around £200, the cheapest toner refills around £40 – but is much cheaper in the long run.
What’s the difference between a desktop and a free-standing copier?
In very general terms, the larger the copier, the larger the volume of copies it can handle. A desktop machine will serve for small offices with day to day copying needs but if you’re doing a lot of high volume jobs you can expect it start feeling the strain and breaking down. The smaller toner cartridges in desktop machines also need to be replaced more frequently. Free-standing copiers, as well as being able to handle bigger jobs and longer spells of continuous operation, can also be fitted with extra modules for sorting, stapling, folding, binding and even hole-punching your documents. They can also come with an instant warm up feature so that you don’t have to loiter awkwardly next to the machine for three minutes waiting for your document.
Will I be able to use the photocopier as a printer and a scanner?
Most office photocopiers now come with network cards so they can be used as a printer and scanner on your computer network. Some also have the option of various file formats for scanning, and have multiple configurations as a printer.
Will I have to purchase the copier outright?
No – nearly all suppliers will offer the option of leasing a copier. Various leasing options are available where you pay a fixed monthly or quarterly fee for the copier. This can include maintenance and toner refill charges. Lease agreements usually last for a fixed period (at least a year) after which you are able to purchase the machine outright, extend the lease, upgrade to a new machine or return the machine. There are sometimes special lease agreements available for schools and other public sector bodies to fit in with budgeting requirements.
Common Misconceptions: Photocopiers for Business
- I need a copier that takes A1 paper.
Large format copiers are big pieces of very expensive equipment and are generally only used by printers and other specialist users. You’ll need to go to a special stockist for these as they don’t normally come under the business photocopier category. (NB: Paper sizes run counter intuitively – A0 is the largest size, A4 is a normal piece of writing paper.)
- I need a photocopier for my home office.
If you’re working from home the chances are that a high end consumer machine will serve your purposes. If you’re not getting much use out of it, a business machine will end up being much more expensive.
- I want to lease a coin-operated photocopier.
This option is very rare these days. If there are any suppliers that offer this option, we don’t know about them. If you really need a coin operated machine, you’ll probably need to purchase a copier yourself and add a coin-operated controller.
- I definitely need a colour copier.
While the technology has come a long way in recent years, and quality has improved dramatically, a full set of colour toner cartridges will still set you back around three times as much as the black ones. Are you still sure you need a colour copier?
- There’s no such thing as an environmentally friendly photocopier.
Granted, photocopier manufacturers weren’t the first to embrace energy saving and waste-reduction principles. But with the rise of eco-conscious purchasing they’ve had to start incorporating environmentally friendly features such as power management. But how you use your copier will still be the single most important factor in determining the environmental cost of your equipment – printing emails and large documents single sided should be avoided where possible.