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The Cost Per Page of Printing - How to Lower & Count Your Costs

Jul 1

How much do you or your company spend each year for printing, copying and faxing documents?

If you often find yourself printing documents or photos on your printer for someone else you might be interested to know how much those printouts are costing you.

So lets start with the printer itself. If you already have one you can skip this part.

There are several categories of printers on the market but the kind of documents or photos you intend to print will determine the type of printer you should choose, and how much to spend on the printer itself and its consumables. Inkjet and laser printers have greatly improved in recent years. They offer faster print speeds, bigger memory capacity, better print resolution and also provide a much lower cost per page.

As the process of the new developments persists, the price of the printers continues to drop. This allows the user to create prints at an even lower cost. In addition, as prices decline, ease of use improves, and many features become increasingly better. This means a savings of time as well for creating documents. Today's multifunction devices offer high volume printing, faxing, copying, and document finishing options all in a single machine. With the deployment of these all-in-one printers, companies or even home business owners can increase productivity, save space and speed up the overall workflow.

But with the staggering variety of printers to choose from, there are some important aspects to consider when you purchase your next printer. One of these factors is the expected cost per page of the printer.

However to be able to somewhat accurately determine the cost of each page that your printer makes, we have to take into account three major factors. An important starting point to count cost per page is:

1) The price of your printer

The actual purchase price of an inkjet printer usually represents only five percent of the total lifetime cost of the printer. For instance, one inkjet printed page costs about 7-10 times more than one laser printed page. This is the combination of the cost of the ink and papers, service calls and electricity divided by the number of pages that can be created. Basically the same thing applies to laser printers.

If you spend $1,400 for your laser printer and lets say a $90 for each toner cartridge, you'll almost certainly spend a lot more for consumables than the initial purchase price of the printer. So a printer that is cheap to purchase up front doesn't necessarily assure that it is a good deal. It also has to be affordable in the long run, with low cost per pages and the lowest cost of maintenance possible.

The lifetime of a printer can vary but it is usually three to five years or can be counted to the expiration of the warranty. In order to determine the additional cost of each printed page resulted by the initial purchase price of the printer we have to know the total expected duty cycle of the device and divide it by the purchase price of the printer.

So let's say if the estimated life time duty cycle of the printer is 10,000 pages and the printer cost $250.00, it would suggest that we should add the $ 0.025 to the cost of each page after we counted all the consumable and maintenance costs.

2) Consumables

The second and the biggest cost component to your printed pages are the consumables, such us inkjet cartridges, laser toners, printer papers, specialty media (photo paper) and electricity (this is not considerable in the case of an inkjet printer).

Ink cartridges can be found in various combinations, such as separate black and color cartridges, color and black in one solo cartridge (Grouped cartridge, which mixes 3 colors anywhere black is needed on the pager), or even separate cartridges for each ink color. Lower priced Inkjets usually comes out with the grouped color cartridge. However, it is best is to look for a printer with a separate cartridge for each color, that way you only replace the color that runs out, without the worry of wasting the ink. Inkjets with separate ink cartridges use considerably less ink to create the print than one that has grouped cartridges. Some Inkjet models employ a large ink tank which allows you to use ink more efficiently that can also contribute to a lower cost per page.

The price you pay for ink will vary on the printer you use, but it can cost you from $20 to $100 or more for replacement color ink cartridges, and anywhere from $5 to $50 for a separate black cartridge, depending on quality. Dyes that are fade resistant (like the HP 26) cost more than those that fade quickly.

To come up with an accurate number on how much the cost of the ink for each page is not easy. We all know that every page uses a different amount of ink. To create photos requires much more ink than what we would use to print manuals or graphics.

So printing costs will vary depending on how much ink you were using for every individual page.

But lets see some facts. If an OEM HP 15 / 78D, which sells for around $60, had been used, then the cost per page for photo printing would be higher than $0.80 per page. The 15 / 78D can be had for about $60 for 500 pages and the 78A at $79.99 for 2100 pages. This gives a cost per page for the 15 / 78D combo of $0.12 and a cost per page for the 78A of $0.04, or three times more.

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Let's take a look at the benefits of compatible ink cartridges versus their OEM equivalent. The HP Tri-Color Ink Cartridge (C1823D) offers a page yield of 620 pages and lists on for $46.99. At this rate, you'll pay about 8 cents per page. Compare that to Office Link's compatible HP ink cartridge, at only $35.72 you'll pay closer to 5 cents a page. That's nearly a 25% savings just buy buying a compatible product instead of throwing money away on an OEM product. Office Link's compatible ink cartridges are guaranteed to meet OEM print yields and quality at a fraction of the price.

An important note: With printers like HP and Lexmark the print head is embedded in the cartridge and it is replaced when you change the cartridge. However, with Canon printers the print head is not included in the cartridge but it can be changed several times within the lifetime of the printer. Finally, with Epson, the print head is integrated in the printer and although it can be replaced but almost at the same cost as the printer itself. So, the cost of the print heads, (depending on the type of your printer) might increase the cost of printing per page.

Toner cartridges for monochrome laser printers can cost from $50 to $200, and for color lasers the price for the toner cartridge can go up to $300 or more! This makes it a very costly consumable indeed. However, you will be able to print a greater number of pages (between 4000 and 10,000) from a single laser toner cartridge!

According to Lyra research each black and white page printed on a laser printer can cost an average of $0.05 to $0.08, and $0.12 to $0.15 for a page with color. Pages with solid color graphics can cost even $0.50 to $0.60 per page.

3) Printer Paper

One of the most costly mistakes made in an attempt to lower printing costs is purchasing low-grade or recycled paper which often can cause the opposite effect. Paper for inkjets have a specially designed surface. The coating on inkjet paper is intended to control the size of the dots that makes up the image in a print. It allows the print to dry faster and helps control ink when it is sprayed onto the paper, so it looks better when laid down as a photo.

In addition, it prevents ink droplets from penetrating (absorbing) too deeply into the paper or spreading out and bleeding onto each other! If the ink goes through to the coat, you wont be able to see all the color in the photograph. Of course if you print plain text you can go with any type of printer paper.

The average cost for paper is anywhere from half a penny or less per page up to about $.02, but premium paper can cost up to $0.10

If you intend to vary your output you should choose a printer that also can produce photo-quality output. In this case you can only guess how many photos you'll be printing and on what types and sizes of paper.

You can go with the glossy 8.5" x 11" photo paper or the premium glossy 4 by 6 inch, or other different types and sizes. Prices for these paper types vary considerably.

Make your best guess for each size and type, and then add 10 percent more to each to allow for reprints.

How Do You Lower Your Cost Per Page?

To lower the cost per pages of your printer, refilling ink cartridges might be an economical option. Ink refill kits are very popular because of the price saving opportunity they offer. If you run out of ink, within just a few minutes you can refill your inkjet cartridge without any mess. And if you wish to lower your cost per page even further you need only buy bulk printer inks. With bulk color and black inks and refill inks you can save up to 75% on the cost of feeding your printer. However, if you do not wish to mess with refilling or just don't have the time, the compatible inkjet cartridges and remanufactured ink cartridges are the best way to go.


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