Seven Questions to Ask When Buying a Copier

by Rich on March 11, 2009

Not all copiers are created equally. There are plenty of questions to ask when you’re considering buying one, from how the consumables will affect your budget to the type of capabilities and speed you need. Here are a few questions every business owner needs to ask before buying a new copier.

What are you planning to use it for?

Your use is a more complicated question than you’d think at first. Think about what you’re planning to copy; if you see the need to make copies of book or journal pages, you’ll need a lid that lifts. If you’re planning to make colour copies, you’ll need a colour copier—not all print in colour. If you need not just to print but to staple, collate and bind pages in large quantities, you’ll need a machine that can handle those tasks.

Is a copier the only machine you’ll need?

Or do you also need a printer and a fax machine? If you do, you may be able to save significant money by buying an all-in-one machine with printing and fax capabilities. This can be a great way to upgrade your printer and fax machine if you already have one as well.

How much space do I have?

Unless you have plenty of space, take measurements before heading to the store. You can save space by buying an all-in-one machine that offers print and fax capabilities—this way you won’t need three different machines taking up space in your office. You can also buy a desktop copier if your space is very limited, but be warned—these machines typically aren’t designed for large print runs. Standalone copiers have a built-in cart, usually with room for several different types of paper. If you don’t have one, bear in mind you’ll need additional storage space for paper and supplies.

Are you copying multi-page or single-page documents?

If you’re copying multi-page documents such as reports, contracts and articles, you’ll need an automatic document feeder that allows you to copy multiple pages without having to separately load each page, and that can adjust for portrait or landscape copying if needed. If you generally only print single-page documents, you won’t need more than a flat copy area where you place a single page to be copied.

How much am I copying?

If you’re only copying a small amount of pages every so often, you won’t need to worry as much about speed or volume. But if you’re planning to copy hundreds of pages per week or copy jobs with dozens of pages, you’ll need a copier that can handle the job. Things to consider include speed—you won’t want to wait all day for your job to finish—and the amount of paper storage capacity the machine has. If it can only hold a few hundred pages at a time and you know you’ll be printing more than that in a single job, you won’t want to have to continually reload the machine. Check your current volume in-office or with your printer to see what your company averages in terms of copy volume, and figure you’ll need a copy machine that can handle at least 25% more than what you currently need—this will give your business room to grow.

How expensive are supplies?

Copiers need toner and drums replaced on a fairly regular basis, and these can be quite expensive. When considering your budget for a copier, factor in the price of consumables. A cheap copier with expensive toner cartridges is an expensive copier in disguise.

What about paper?

Do you need to print on several different types of paper simultaneously? What about volume? Not every copier has a paper tray that can accommodate thousands of pages of paper—or separate trays for different types of paper. You’ll need to choose a copier that you can use efficiently without reloading, especially during large copy jobs.

There are hundreds of printer models available—and if you choose the wrong one, you may not have the capability to perform the copying tasks your business relies on. Take your time and know how much print volume you need, the type of print jobs you’ll be doing and your budget—including your budget for consumables. With all this information in hand, you should be able to make an informed decision.

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