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 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:

Black and white desktop

Black & White Desktop A3 MFP $2000 – $3000

Color Desktop

Color Desktop A3 MFP $2500-$4000

Business class

Business Class A3 MFP 35 PPM $4800 – $8000

Business class 80

Business Class A3 MFP 50 PPM $6000-$10000

High Volume

High Volume A3 MFP 80 PPM  $14000 – $19000

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?
Questions

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:

Speed is Critical

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.

Color Adds Expense

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.

Paper Capacity

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.

Finishing Options

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.

What Drives the Cost of a Copier Down?

There are many instances in which an organization needs to pay as little as possible for a device: startup, high growth mode, non-profit etc. Let’s look at how you can reduce the cost of a professional copier:

Color

Color

Do you need color on your copier or MFP? The cost of these devices is about $200- $300 more and the cost of color prints is higher than black and white, as much as four to five times higher.

Capabilities

Finishing Capabilities

If you don’t need them you shouldn’t buy them.  If your applications don’t require stapling or separating multiple sets, you can reduce the cost of your copier by $1100-$2500.

Lease Term

Lease term

Like mortgages and auto loans, the longer the term the lower the monthly payment.  However, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is greater due to the higher interest expense.  We recommend picking a term that aligns with your budget and your desired term to keep the equipment, typically thirty-six to sixty months.

Used Copiers

One option is a used copier. Many companies offer cheap copiers that were traded in or were upgraded and are coming off a lease. This option can save 50% or more vs a new MFP; however, keep these things in mind if considering acquiring a used device:

Technology

When buying used, you probably are getting a device that is at least three years old. Manufacturers change models about every three years so you are not getting the latest features.  While some features may seem insignificant, they often deal with improved security, lower power consumption, and enhanced functionality which can save you money.

Meter

Like cars, copiers have meters like odometers.  Copiers with high meters  have less value than ones with low meters.  Responsible companies will not remarket extremely high meter devices as they generate more service calls due to parts and component failures.

Higher operating costs

While the device will cost less, it is more expensive to maintain.  So your cheap copier may not really be cheap. Newer business class MFP’s run more efficiently and have fewer service calls than older devices.  You can expect to pay around 25% more for a maintenance agreement for a used office copier versus a new one.  Regardless of the higher cost, you should always put a used MFP or copier under a maintenance agreement.  This ensures your device will experience maximum uptime and you can more easily control your operating costs.

Higher financing costs

Leases on new equipment are always less than used equipment.  Why, you ask?  Leasing companies assign a residual value to copiers at the end of the lease term and this is how they calculate the rate factor (or interest rate).  Used copiers will be worth less at the end of a lease than a new device- anywhere from 15%-30% less.

Why are Some Copier Dealers More Expensive?

As you research copier costs, you may realize there are substantial cost and price differences between dealers, even for the exact same copier or MFP. You may ask yourself why. Here are some possible explanations:

  • Some copier dealers are more expensive because capable copier technicians earn higher salaries which equates to higher cost. This will benefit you as a customer in the long run, as a cheap MFP will cost you more eventually if it is down and not running.
  • Some copier dealerships charge more because of the brand of device they represent. Much like automobiles, some brands command a higher price. A Jaguar will cost more than a Kia. A similarly featured Konica Minolta copier or MFP device may cost more than a Ricoh. Understand and communicate your device requirements when discussing copier costs with your office equipment dealer.
More expensive

As you research copier costs, you may realize there are substantial cost and price differences between dealers, even for the exact same copier or MFP. You may ask yourself why. Here are some possible explanations:

  • Some copier dealers are more expensive because capable copier technicians earn higher salaries which equates to higher cost. This will benefit you as a customer in the long run, as a cheap MFP will cost you more eventually if it is down and not running.
  • Some copier dealerships charge more because of the brand of device they represent. Much like automobiles, some brands command a higher price. A Jaguar will cost more than a Kia. A similarly featured Konica Minolta copier or MFP device may cost more than a Ricoh. Understand and communicate your device requirements when discussing copier costs with your office equipment dealer.

Why are Some Copier Dealers Less Expensive?

Less expensive

Much like the question about why some copier dealers are MORE expensive than others, consider this.

  • Some copier dealerships have high turnover of their copier service technicians so they may have less experienced techs on staff. Less experienced techs can mean they are paid less and may have lower service overhead costs. This is actually a negative for customers, as they may suffer more MFP downtime as the less experienced technicians learn on the job. Having a competent local copier repair service is critical.
  • Some office technology dealerships may represent less expensive brands of copy machines.
  • Others may be high volume sellers of copiers which means they may have more experience and the efficiency they have developed allows them to charge a lower price.
  • Some less honest copier dealers may be selling a cheap copier as a new device, but it may be refurbished or may be a loaner unit with several prints already on it. Ask your sales rep to tell you about the history of any copier or MFP you are proposing to buy.

Choosing the right Copier for YOU!

While many companies offer quality products, it often comes down to who you buy them from and who will support them. Why do companies charge more for commercial copiers than others? Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If a deal is too good to be true, it typically is. When you buy a copier or MFP, you are entering a three to five-year commitment, you want to make sure the company will be there and will fulfill your contractual obligations. Do you research on the company, check out their Better Business Bureau accreditation, references, and reputation. It costs money to run a quality and sustainable organization, to provide the proper training and certification for their employees, competitive compensation and benefits and that ultimately affects the cost to you. If you want the cheapest copier you can certainly find it, but remember you want to ensure your organization that the company will be there for the long term to support that inexpensive solution.

Does this mean you should pay too much? No. What it means is you should expect to pay a competitive price and enter into a win/win agreement that delivers a customized solution for you and a reasonable profit for your vendor who you want to become a trusted business partner.

Where does Virginia Business Systems Fit?

We like to think that Virginia Business Systems is the ideal copier dealership. Not too cheap, not too expensive, but just right. We employ experienced, skilled technicians and we pay them a salary commensurate with their abilities. We also sell a consistently high volume of copier and MFP systems, so we understand our processes and can sell and provide copier repair services very efficiently. We also have some used copiers in our inventory and showrooms that are available as more cost-effective options for your printing requirements.

So, if you are interested in learning more about commercial copiers and MFPs, please contact us and an experienced member of our team will contact you.

To learn more about how much a copier will cost your organization, fill out the form below and we can provide a no obligation quote. Buying a professional MFP need not be a dreaded task, this is an opportunity to improve productivity, security, processes and enjoy a savings. No hassle, no arduous process, no contentious negotiating, our team can assist you in person or remotely.

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