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Photocopier Machines - Everything You Need To Know

An in-depth guide to laser, inkjet, black & white and colour photocopiers

    The humble photocopier is still a powerful tool in almost any workplace.

    Buying the right one for your office will allow you to quickly and efficiently produce printed documents, whilst also saving you time and money.

    There are a wide range of business photocopiers and deciding which one is right for you and your office will depend on a range of factors.

    You should ask yourself the following questions before making a decision:

Photocopier Small Business
  • Do you need colour documents or just black and white?
  • How many documents a day/week/month will you be printing?
  • How fast do you need documents to print?
  • How big is your team and does everyone need access to the copier?
  • Do you need additional features such as printing, faxing or scanning?

Knowing what you need in a photocopier will help you make the right choice for your business. If you need some help choosing, then check out our expert photocopier guides for different business sizes:

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Features of Photocopiers

Modern photocopiers, from Xerox to Brother, offer a wide range of functionality for businesses. In order to help you get more done in the workplace, you need to consider which functions you need in order to maximise your photocopier’s performance. The best part is that many of the tasks which used to only be available in the most expensive models are now available in compact models too.

Aside from multi-function machines that can print, scan and fax as well as photocopy, optional functionality choices may include:

  • Stapling
  • Collating
  • Hole punching
  • Binding
  • Automatic document feeding
  • Duplex (double-sided) printing/scanning
  • Touch screen display
  • Image editing for adding page numbers or watermarks or re-sizing
  • User accounts
  • Wireless, Bluetooth or USB connectivity in addition to standard LAN network
  • Security features (e.g. passwords, PINs, data encryption, etc)
  • Power saver mode
  • Multi-media support (e.g. card, different sizes and stocks of paper)
  • Additional paper storage
  • In built HDD storage for easier document storage & management

This list is by no means exhaustive but as you can see, there is a wide array of additional functionalities that your office can take advantage of. As mentioned above many of these features can be found on both larger and smaller business photocopiers, although as a rule of thumb, the larger the copier, the more functionality it has.

Photocopier Size – is it a problem?

The problem many offices run into with photocopiers is trying to find one the right size for the space you have available. Either it takes up way too much room, or it is not large enough to handle the workload required by the office. It can be easy that you not only have to account for height and width, but depth too – the image below clarifies this.

approved index photocopier dimensions

Image via Toshiba.

One thing to bear in mind when looking at photocopiers, and especially when considering size, is that larger models will have the room to accommodate more paper, keeping you going for longer without needing to refill or restock.

Outside of large production machines, many modern photocopiers have been reduced in size to make them more compact, manoeuvrable and usable. This allows your business to accomplish the same tasks as larger, older machines without taking up huge amounts of room. This is doubly important in any office where space is at a premium.

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Laser Photocopiers

Laser copiers tend to be the most expensive kind of photocopier due to their sophisticated internal technology and subsequent high-end performance. These machines tend to print faster and crisper documents than inkjet copiers, and although they cost significantly more, they can prove to be more economical in the long run due to the long life of laser toner cartridges and the wide range of photocopier leasing plans available.

Many offices, including home offices, can produce hundreds or even thousands of printed pages per day. If your office needs to produce high-volumes of printed documents, then for this reason alone you should consider a laser copier. Not only will the job print quicker, but quality will be assured and toner will not run-out. Likewise, larger laser photocopiers tend to have huge paper storage capacity and so are a natural f more suited to heavy duty performance.

Bearing this in mind, try to look for a good brand-name copier that comes with a service agreement. Our Approved Partners can help you find the best deals on Photocopiers in the UK

Inkjet Photocopiers

Inkjet copiers are generally better suited to smaller and less demanding offices, such as home offices, as their print quality can be slightly inferior to laser machines and their print speeds tend to also be slower.

However, if you need a photocopier for irregular or infrequent use, then you should definitely consider an inkjet copier. Running costs may work out as slightly more expensive per page due to the high cost of ink, but overall purchase cost can be significantly cheaper, which offsets the higher running costs.

Inkjet vs Laser Photocopiers

Both laser and inkjet photocopiers act as copiers and printers. The question is: how do you choose between the two and pick the right copier for your business?

Laser copiers offer the highest quality printing available on the market as well excellent print speeds and precision, but can easily cost a couple of thousand pounds. Whereas, you can pick an inkjet copier up for less than £200. So while the quality might not be as crisp, you might find that you’re much better off financially if you do opt for the cheaper machine.

For a home office, the cost alone might make the decision for you. But for an office with a larger number of employees, you might need to take into account a wider range of factors, such as multiple print jobs occurring at once and speed being much more of a necessity. In this case a photocopier that that can stack jobs and print copies at a faster rate may be required to keep productivity high. In this case it might make more sense to opt for a more powerful, but more expensive, laser photocopier.


Both inkjet and laser copiers require maintenance and servicing throughout their lifetime, and it very much depends on frequency of use and size of workload as to just how often servicing is required. If you are leasing a copier, you can rely on service technicians to take care of these tasks for you. However, one issue you need to be aware of is toner replacement and its costs.

For example, inkjet copiers and printers may cost much less to purchase, but the ink they require is also much more expensive.

For a home office with a low amount of copying and printing, an inkjet copier might initially seem to be a better choice purely because of the lower purchase cost. However, this doesn’t factor in the much higher cost of ink. Even if you don't print very often, you will still end up replacing the ink cartridges on a semi-regular basis.

In fact, in what might be seen as a cruel irony, if your inkjet copier goes too long without printing anything at all, then you might find that the ink needs replacing anyway because it dries up! As a rule of thumb, ink cartridge generally cost around £20-£25 – which doesn’t seem like too much, at least not until you start replacing them every other week.

On the other hand, laser copiers possess both a higher initial purchase price and higher resource costs, with toner cartridges costing a little bit more than ink cartridges, usually somewhere between £30-£50. However, toner cartridges need replacing at a much slower rate.

The good news is that one toner cartridge can print thousands and thousands of pages, which an inkjet cartridge simply cannot do. Even if your print volume is low, it might be worth considering a laser copier as it could turn out to be a much better choice in the long run and – if you’re lucky - actually end up costing the same or less to use than an inkjet photocopier.

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Black & White Photocopiers

Black and white photocopiers – or monochrome photocopiers, if you prefer – are precisely what you would expect: copying and printing machines that are limited to a greyscale palette.

Generally seen as inferior to colour models, black and white photocopiers have been re-invigorated over the past decade by laser and LED technology. Not only has this drastically improved printing speeds and quality, but subsequent manufacturing breakthroughs have meant that the cost of these machines has dropped dramatically.

Whereas, you might once expect to pay in the tens of thousands for a high end, business photocopier, now you can expect to pay just a few thousand, or less if you intend to lease.

Black & White Copiers for Businesses

Printing in black and white can offer businesses a wide range of benefits. Not only is the technology sound and cheap to manufacture, which means monochrome photocopiers cost less, but most offices will still be able to maximise ROI whether they have colour printing available or not.

Toner costs can be included in monthly lease packages, which not only helps to push down the cost per page but means you don’t need to worry about running out either as the manufacturer or leasing company’s technicians will take care of replacements.

Businesses looking for speed would be wise to skip colour copiers and head straight to the monochrome section as speeds tend to be much faster due to the laser and LED technology available to these machines.

Colour Photocopiers

Colour technology was added to photocopiers in late sixties and since then the process has been refined to the extent that it’s now possible to produce high quality colour reproductions on a standard size office machine.

Adding colour to your printed documents can enliven internal and external communications, make handouts for presentations easier to follow, allow you to print sales or promotional materials in-house as well as branded letterheads, invoices and compliment slips without having to rely on an outside printer.

If you’re looking to produce a professional quality documents on a large-scale, then you’ll need a high-end production printing machine with a high DPI (dots per inch) print resolution. These machines commonly include modules for producing and binding various types of document.

For small offices, a colour photocopier will be a more modest affair, more than likely a desktop photocopier that won’t compete in quality standards with professional printing. Even so, colour will still add an extra punch to your printed documents.

Colour Copiers for Businesses

As with all modern digital copiers, colour photocopiers are integrated scanners and printers so they’re ideal for use as office colour printers when connected to a computer network. Available in a range of sizes and with a multitude of optional extras, colour photocopiers range from small office machines to professional quality production printing units.

For businesses that require heavy-duty machines to cope with large print runs, then you’ll be glad to know that this is where colour photocopiers come into their own. Production copiers such as Canon’s Oce VarioPrint Series, not only offer colour functionality, but can print at speeds of up to 250 pages per minute for text and just under 100 ppm for whole-page colour images.

These machines may be more costly, but they offer a level of in-house productivity that is hard to match, let alone surpass, anywhere else.

Black & White vs Colour Photocopiers

The decision to opt for a colour copier over a black and white copier is highly dependent on price. Colour copiers use four different sets of toner (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), which means you’ll be replacing toner or ink cartridges much more often. Also, colour copiers are more expensive to purchase or lease due to the extra technology involved, which also results in higher manufacturing costs. Black and white – or monochrome – photocopiers also tend to be faster printing too.

What this means for the average business is that unless you’re going to be printing colour documents regularly, then you’re probably better off sticking with black and white, or you could see your cost per copy rocket.

Approved Advice: If you only need to print in colour every now and then, you might consider it economical to buy/lease a low cost, colour inkjet printer in addition to your standard office photocopier.

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Next Steps

Now that you know the key features and differences between the major types of photocopier (black & white, colour, laser and inkjet), you’ll probably want to see the best UK photocopier deals for your business.

Just fill in our simple enquiry form to receive free, no obligation quotes from up to 4 Photocopying Machine suppliers based in the UK.

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