The copier has been an office staple for several decades and has made some big strides since Xerox first introduced the fully automated plain-paper photocopier in 1959. Today's photocopiers tend to have more in common with computers than the first Xerox 914 as most modern copiers combine copying, laser printing, faxing, scanning, and more into a fully functional and well-oiled business machines. With so many copiers on the market that can do pretty much about anything, its hard to make the smart decision for your business. Here is a short list on what to consider when shopping for a business copier.
Analog vs. digital
One of the most frequently asked questions when evaluating a copier machine is whether you should buy a digital or analog. Older analog copiers have an advantage in simplicity over newer digital models as they allow users to make copies by pressing a single button. However, most companies tend to choose digital black and white copiers or digital color copiers that come with variety of features which older analog copiers do not have. Digital copiers, also called multifunction printers (MFPs), produce less noise than analog copiers, have fewer moving parts meaning fewer maintenance problems, and can produce more detailed photocopies.
It just makes very little sense to buy analog these days. The majority of copier manufacturers have stopped introducing new analog models and there is little price difference between analog and digital copiers with similar features. The only reason to buy analog is if the prospect of dealing with futuristic equipment is daunting to you and your staff. Even with minimal training you and your employees will find that a digital copier isn't as complicated as it looks. With that said, here are a few options your business should consider depending on your copying needs.
Multifunction printers: Digital black and white printers now use modules to combine the functions of copiers, network printers, scanners, fax machines, and even e-mail devices all into a single piece of equipment. MFPs are designed in many shapes and sizes and range from home and small business capabilities to enterprise and commercial use. Naturally the cost, output quality, and other included features will all vary greatly from model to model, but generally they all perform the same functions - Print, Scan, Fax, and Photocopy. In the commercial/enterprise area, most MFPs utilize laser printing technology while in the personal and home environments, Inkjet Printer technology is more widely used. Typically Inkjet printers have struggled with delivering the performance and color saturation demanded by enterprise and large business use but HP has recently launched an enterprise grade MFP using Inkjet technology.
Digital Color Copiers: Color copiers support color printing and work much like a computer scanner connected to a laser printer. The color copier simply scans an original document and transfers the information via laser to a charged image drum. The color toner adheres to the drum while the copier heats the toner and permanently fuses the image onto paper. High-end color copiers will apply all four colors in a single pass while low-end color copiers take four passes of the same image. Low-end color copiers cost less than high-end color copiers, but have slower copying speeds. Color copiers will typically cost 20 or 30% more than black and white copiers of similar speeds and volume ratings. Then there are dedicated graphic color copiers which cost more due to very accurate print-quality color specifications and faster processors which may not be very practical in a corporate environment.
Hybrid Copiers: These are great for small and medium businesses that only need the occasional color printing or copying. Hybrids typically operate in black and white reproduction mode the majority of the time and can switch to color mode when necessary. Much of the expense of color copying comes from the consumables like special color toners, fuser oil and paper. Hybrid copiers allow you to keeps your operating costs down while still giving you the benefits of a color copier.
Lease a Copier: Copier leases are a fantastic way to avoid blowing a large portion of your capital while also evening out the payments. Some businesses also find that their printing demands come with the seasons and only need a high-end copier for relatively short periods of increased workloads. In addition, due to the rapid rates at which technology advances, copier leases often include provisions that allow you trade up to a newer model giving you the ability to upgrade without buying brand new. Other leases allow you to walk away from a machine, increasing your financial flexibility if you can not afford ongoing monthly payments.
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