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Laser Printers: Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Spend On A Laser Printer?

There are two considerations:

  • The cost of the printer; and

  • The cost of the consumables.

Almost everybody ignores the cost of the consumables, or considers only the cost of the consumable unit, and not the price per page. For example, a $500 toner rated for 30,000 pages is cheaper than a $145 toner rated for 6,000 pages. Therefore a $400 printer with a $145/6000 toner can be more expensive than a $1500 printer with a $500/30000 toner over a period of time.

Typically, the more you spend on the printer itself, the less you'll spend on the toners.

However, you must also consider usage. If you need to print a few pages a day, it's not economic to purchase an expensive printer with a very low running cost because it will take a very long time to print 30,000 pages. At home, or in a very low volume office environment, a $300 printer with relatively high running costs is a good trade-off. But in an normal business office, $800-$1000 for the printer to achieve lower costs per page is more appropriate.

What Features Might I Need?

  • Do I need A3?

  • Do I need colour?

  • Do I need to print labels?

  • Do I need to print on textured paper, thick paper (> 80gsm) or paper with metallic embossing?

  • Do I need additional input trays?

  • Do I need to print double-sided?

  • Do I need finishing features such as stapling, collating?

  • Do I need to print on envelopes?

  • Does the printer need to be networkable standalone or can it be shared via a PC?

  • Do I have the right connection on my PC (eg. parallel, USB)?

  • How many pages will I be printing?

  • Does the printer need to fit into a certain physical space?

Not all printers are capable of these things or suitable in all cases. Develop answers for these questions and check them against the abilities of the printer.

Should I Use Clone, Remanufactured or Third-Party Consumables?

No. Only use vendor-branded consumables. Buy them from your printer dealer and not from your stationer. Stationers tend to supply whatever is cheapest.

Will I Be Able to Print the Number of Pages the Consumable is Rated For?

Probably not. Typically consumable capacities are measured in pages, with an assumed print density of 5%. This is clearly much less than an average page of business printing, so you'll hardly ever print, say, 15,000 pages from a cartridge rated for 15,000 pages. However, it is still relevant to use the page capacities to compare relative costs.

Can I Print a Single Label, then Reuse the Label Sheet to Print Another Label?

No. The heat from the fuser unit loosens the glue on the labels and they come off and stick to the inside of the printer.

There would not be many printer manufacturers who support re-using labels sheets in this way. In fact many do not support labels at all. Labels are much better suited to inkjet printers as there is no heat involved.

Should I Repair A Laser Printer?

Laser printers can become pits to hurl money into, because after a few years everything wears out, the rollers, the feeds and countless little bits and pieces. Every repair is going to include a callout and labour charge for what might be a $20 part or a $300 part.

However, it is also true that laser printers do require maintenance and spare parts as a normal part of their lifecycle, so a new fuser unit or developer drum after 100,000 pages or a clean/service by a technician is nothing to be afraid of.

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