True Life Cycle Costs of Laser Printers?: More important than the price of the printer is the Lifecycle cost of the printer. It is little wonder today why companies are giving away printers with a purchase of a computer or why they are offering a mail-in rebate that refunds practically the entire initial purchase price.

Trust me when I tell you that it is not because they figured out how to manufacture these devices for free, that I assure you. These manufacturers are banking on the aftermarket revenue made every time you print a document.

I have witnessed companies flush hundreds of thousands of dollars down the toilet by not understanding and controlling the operating costs of their laser printers. It is my passion to help you uncover and understand the true financial impact that printers can have on your operating budget.

The toner cartridge is the biggest contributor to the overall life cycle cost of your printer. Not only does it cost a fair amount of money – especially compared to the original purchase price of the printer – it is the item that is replaced most frequently. Sometimes with the right rebates or specials, it is actually cheaper to replace the printer than buy a new cartridge, aside from the soft dollar costs of the time spent swapping out the printer.

The next most common cost component to any laser printer is the Preventative Maintenance or “PM” Kit. This kit usually consists of the Fuser Assembly, Secondary Charge Roller, and Paper Feed Tires.

To properly calculate the minimum Life cycle cost of a printer you will need to find out the cost and life of these two components. There is statistical data on almost every printer ever made from a number of different resources. The one I use most is the Buyers Laboratory.

The data you need to find is:

  1. The stated yield and cost of the toner cartridge.
  2. The stated yield and cost of the maintenance or “PM” kits and parts.
  3. The Manufacturer’s monthly recommended duty cycle.

The Manufacturer’s monthly recommended duty cycle is always blown way out of proportion from what the device can actually handle. A general rule of thumb is that the printer can handle about 20% of the Manufacturer’s recommendation. This information is also important when you are trying to “Right Size” a printer to fit your needs.

Let’s take a real-world example. I am not going to mention the Make and Model of the printer but I will say that this is the most popular “Department” size printer on the market.

We’ll start first by looking at the toner cartridge. The cost of this cartridge is $224 and yields 20,000 printed pages. That means that the cost per page is $ .0112.

Next is the PM Kit. The cost of the PM Kit is $ 375 and yields 225,000 printed pages. The cost per page on for the PM Kit is $ .0017.

The final cost to the operation of the printer is the service labour for replacing the PM Kit. For this example, it would take a 1-hour service call at a cost of $100. Divide this cost by the yield of the PM Kit and that would equal a cost per page of $ .0004.

This means your minimum cost per printed page is $ .0133. It is highly unlikely that you will not have any other service calls for jamming or poor image quality over the printer’s Lifecycle. I am not going to attempt to estimate your other operating costs you will incur while operating a laser printer. You can assume that if everything operates flawlessly, then this is the most optimistic operating cost you could possibly experience, with this printer.

Remember that I mentioned that a general rule of thumb for the monthly volume is 20% of what the Manufacturer’s recommendation? This particular printer has a recommended monthly volume of 250,000 printed pages. What this means is – for you to achieve maximum results with this device, you should produce no more than 50,000 printed pages per month.

Most companies expect that a printer will last about 5 years. I calculate that the total number of pages that will be produced over a 5 year period will be 3,000,000. Multiply 3,000,000 pages by our total cost per page of $ .0133 and you get $ 39,900. For most of us, we will also need to add the tax to this figure.

That’s right, in 5 years you will purchase 150 toner cartridges, 13 PM Kits, and a minimum of 13 Service calls to replace the PM kits. This device happens to be one of the most cost-efficient devices offered by this Manufacturer. Typically laser printers cost twice this amount to operate, so you need to be very careful not to flush your hard-earned money down the same toilet as many others do.

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