As an employee at Virginia Business Systems, people ask me daily “How much does a copier cost?” The answer is simple- it depends—and it’s our goal to help answer the question much more thoroughly in this article.
Copiers are often called an MFP, which stands for Multi-Functional Printer. These devices can copy, print, scan, and possibly FAX; however, coffee making is not yet available! This article addresses the cost of a commercial copier or MFP for general office use and the variables which increase or decrease the price.
Office Copier Price Ranges
So, how much does an office copier cost? Here is a guide to what the costs would be, dependent on speed, color, the number of accessories you add to it, and the manufacturer. Business class copiers typically can print up to a 12 x18 inch paper size, and are often called A3 copiers based on the European ledger paper size designation. A stripped-down smaller MFP will cost less, and the more accessories you add to it will increase the costs.
An overview below:
To get the right office A3 copier at the right price, you should be prepared to answer these questions:
- How many pages do you print in a day, week or month?
- What else would you like your copier/printer to do?
- Do you need to output in color or black and white?
- Is this for a fleet, small business, or small office/home office (“SOHO”)?
- How are you going to pay for this?
How many pages do you print or copy in a day, week or month?
What are you capable of? How fast do you want to copy or print? How many people will use this device? We recommend the size and speed of the MFP based on the Average Monthly Print Volume (“AMPV”). This is a historical measurement of your printing trends. The more you copy and print the larger a copier you will need to produce the output and maintain uptime. Do you have one device for many people (centralized) or many devices in a decentralized environment? Comparatively speaking, if you are hauling a lot material, would you be better off with a dump truck or an El Camino? Now who doesn’t love the classic styling of an El Camino- but is it something you want to use to haul a lot of stuff?
Since most office equipment leases range from thirty-six to sixty months, you want to ensure the commercial copier you select will last the whole contract term. If you buy your office equipment instead of lease, you may keep it even longer. Less volume means you can use a slower, smaller device. Less wear and tear and less output also mean a lower cost.
Sometimes, the workload doesn’t happen consistently during the month. You may have time sensitive deadlines in which large quantities need to be produced with a short turnaround. Two examples are churches and mortgage offices. Churches may have thousands of bulletins or sermons to print in a short timeframe. Mortgage offices have to print piles of closing documents right before the client arrives. In cases like these, you may want to the larger faster professional copier to ensure you have what you need when you need it.
What size paper would you like to output?
Do you really need ledger? Is bigger better? What are you printing? If you do not need to print on 11 x 17 (ledger) paper or larger, you may be a candidate for a lower cost desktop or small format printer. Those A4 MFP’s print up to 8.5 x 14 (legal) size paper and have a smaller footprint. We rarely recommend an A4 device in high-volume environments due to the higher operating cost. Many people use 11 x 17 for spreadsheets, banner printing or creating letter size booklets (a ledger size page folded in half). Desktop A4 devices are about 25 % less than comparable speed business class A3 MFPs.
What else would you like your copier/printer to do?
Just the FAX please! Do you still FAX? Like you, I thought no one FAXes anymore, and boy was I wrong. Some industries require it (medical) and others that have it as an integral part of their workflow (government). Regardless, it’s still here and you would rather have it built into your MFP than keep the old standalone FAX machine that requires unique power, supplies, and support agreements. FAX options for MFP’s are relatively inexpensive and ensure you can continue to communicate with customers, constituents, suppliers and others who still use this technology. The cost of a FAX kit for an A3 MFP ranges from $300-$700.
Completed Documents – Finish It. Two- or three-hole punch, stapling, sorting, duplexing, and in-line finishing are all convenient functions, but you need to determine if they are of value to you. We see most of our customers request duplexing (ability to print on both sides of a sheet of paper) and stapling. They are used frequently and can cut the operating cost of printing by using up to 50% less paper and not needing human intervention to staple and sort multiple sets of documents. Duplexing is included in the price of many larger business class copiers and stapling finishers typically cost between $1100-$2500.
Other finishing options are in less demand but are invaluable for those that need them. One of these is hole punching. Most punching units have a combined two/three-hole punch options. This allows the user to punch two holes at the top of a page or three holes along one side to make flip charts or notebooks, respectively. If this is a requirement, it’s well worth the nominal increase in cost. The hole punch feature adds $450-$500 to a typical commercial copier.
A final finishing option is booklet making. This is more robust than stapling and allows you to create booklets, either perfect bound or stapled. These options are generally installed on Production Print units (high speed, high volume) built to do at least 100K prints per month. Booklet makers on an MFP run $2300-3000. If you want to learn more about Production Print Device costs, visit our article on What do Production Print Devices Cost?.
Paper Capacity- Fill ‘er Up! Do you enjoy loading paper in a copier? My guess is no. Have you ever noticed that people will avoid going to a copier if it is out of paper, and will wait for someone else to load it back up? All MFP’s come standard with a minimal amount of paper capacity. The question is how much paper do you want available online? Do you need different sizes and stocks on demand? Paper handling has improved a lot over the years and most professional copiers can print on many stocks and media, including envelopes. Be sure to get an A3 MFP with the paper handling capabilities you need so you aren’t letting jobs sit while you reload paper or have to manually change paper types. If you need different sizes or stocks, ensure you include the correct paper decks. This option can cost anywhere between $1000-$1500 but can be reduced if you subtract the cost of a base cabinet.
Do you need/want your output in color or black and white?
Are you a Black and White person or do you dream in color? Do you prefer reading color or black and white articles, documents and signs? My guess is you prefer color. Color will affect the acquisition cost of a copier, but the price difference between color and monochrome (black & white) is diminishing. Increasingly, color is more widely accepted due to the lower operating cost and the desire to print what you see. When producing printed materials for employees, prospects, and customers you want them to read them. Color improves retention and attention. Do you ever see monochrome websites, blogs, advertisements, or televisions? Unlikely. If you need to limit color pages produced with a color copier, controls that come standard with most commercial MFP’s can achieve this at no additional cost. A color-enabled A3 MFP costs between $200-$500 more than an equivalent monochrome black and white system.
Financing or Buying a Copier: Which is the Right Option?
Lease or Purchase? Once you have selected your A3 copier and options, you will need to determine how you will pay for this new technology. Options include paying cash or leasing. Over 90% of our customers lease their office equipment. From a cost perspective, cash always wins as it will cost you less money overall if you have cash to spend. Nevertheless, many customers prefer leasing as it conserves cash, leverages low interest rates, and eliminates equipment obsolescence. There are tax advantages for both methods, including a Section 179 deduction.
What Drives the Cost of a Copier Up?
Many factors can drive up the cost of a commercial MFP or copier:
The faster the print speed, the more expensive the copier. Determine how fast you need to print, copy, and scan and choose the appropriate machine.
A copier capable of printing in color will almost always be more expensive than an equivalent black and white MFP. Specifically, a color-capable MFP will have a slightly higher purchase cost, AND a higher cost of operation. Operational costs include repair service, maintenance, supplies, and electricity.
To run efficiently, an office copier should have the ability to print large volumes of paper without an end user constantly having to re-load paper. Greater paper capacity increases price.
There are many finishing options available for business class copiers, so we will focus on the most commonly used finishers. Staple finishers will bind a set of documents in the upper left corner or two on the long or short side of a document.
Booklet makers allow a copier to output finished booklets from the end of the machine. These booklets feature staples that are inserted into the fold of the booklet to hold the pages together. Booklet makers also incorporate a folder to allow for the fold or spine where the staples or “stiches” are inserted. Folders are also a common finishing option, but they are almost always offered as a part of a booklet making capability.
There are a wide range of costs for office copier finishers. A basic stapler can cost around $1100-2500, while a full-featured booklet maker with all the options can range from $2500-3000.