“Elsa, do you want to build a snowman?”

“Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”

Those are two important questions of many important ones that never got answered.

“Should I buy a printer or copier?”

You might think that’s not a significant inquiry. However, maybe if Leia or Anna had possessed a printer or copier, they might have printed, faxed, or scanned their questions to facilitate an eventual answer from their siblings.

But which one should the two princesses get? Printer or copier? The answer is certainly relevant to your own adventures – maybe not in space or Arendelle — but in an office environment where jammed documents or budget-draining printing devices can make a difference between business success and failure.

We can find the answer on whether you need a printer or copier, ironically, with more questions.


Do you need to copy, scan, and fax?


With some exceptions, most copiers and business printers are now considered multifunction devices(MFD). That means they can print, copy, scan, and fax. Some printer models provide the option as well of being a single function “print only” device – if you want to restrict the other features to control costs and Elsa-freeze those service calls.


What’s in your budget?


That’s always going to be the million-dollar question. Keep this in mind: the average cost of a 40 page-per-minute digital copier that copies, prints, scans, and faxes is around $7,800. The same printer with all the bells and whistles will save you up to 75 percent. Size just doesn’t matter in the digital age where so many good solutions come in small packages (including Luke Skywalker dressed as a Stormtrooper).


How much paper capacity do you need?


If you are printing more than 10,000 sheets per month, you probably require a large copier that can hold thousands of sheets of paper. On the other hand, most printers provide modular paper trays that store up to 500 sheets.

Smaller trays typically mean fewer paper jams since fresh printer paper tends to move more smoothly. In case you’re wondering, loading and changing printer paper is somewhat of a science as we explain in this video:



How much office space do you have to surrender?


The average 30 to 40-page office copier takes up approximately 15 to 20 square feet. While not the size of a Death Star, that’s pretty big. Why is a copier so spacious? It allows the many paper trays to open, access to jam-clearance areas, and service to be performed. A printer has a much smaller footprint and can be placed on top of a cabinet or desk.


Centralize or decentralized print strategy?


Walking to your printer can take time and increases the possibility of distractions and ambushes (“Can you take a look at this report, real quick?”). Many companies map where to place a printing machine for fairness and efficiency. Some managers purchase printers for the same cost as one copier, placing them strategically across the office. Such initiatives may offer insights in locating printers closer to specific “power users” or in restricted places where data security is needed.


How important is uptime and how bad is downtime?


According to some statistics, copiers require three service calls for every single service call for a printer. The findings suggest that copiers are oversold. Copiers are not running the minimum volume thresholds set by equipment manufacturers. This translates to more jams, clogs, and general malfunctions. Like sports cars, copiers need to hit the highway as much as possible. Unless you’re planning to print more than 15,000 pages per month, a printer or two will likely generate more uptime and fewer visits from a repairman.

If you’re unsure of how much you’re printing at the moment, we suggest you download our eBook How to Select the Right Printer.


Do both offer on-site service?


Many companies outsource their copier and printer service. They don’t want their employees fixing electronic devices or being distracted from doing their Jedi jobs.

Copier service programs typically have a minimum monthly minimum commitment; or they bill on a cost-per-page for service and toner. Not surprising, most office managers or IT people aren’t keen on monthly minimums.

In contrast, a printer service program may cost $150 – $300 per year for parts and labor, and you only pay for the consumables you use.


Do you need to print on 11X17 paper?


In a galaxy not so far away (here on earth, actually), the reality is that only two percent of business printing is performed on ledger size paper (11 x 17 inches). If it’s not necessary to print on 11×17 paper, and letter and legal-size paper are all you need, purchasing a printer may be best for you.


Do you need automatic stapling?


Nobody loves staplers except for Milton in the film Office Space. It’s also nice to have stapled documents delivered to the output tray. Yet the stapling option on most copiers is approximately a one-thousand-dollar upgrade. If that price is an eye-opener, sometimes a heavy-duty stapler left beside the printer can be a reasonable alternative.


End of life disposal?


In our previous article on printer buying, we provided several local options for recycling your dead or outdated printer. What we didn’t offer are the Yoda powers to lift a 350-pound copier. Beyond perhaps needing professional movers, a copier requires internal liquids to be drained before any considerable movement. What’s more, if you’re leasing your copier, most leasing companies reserve the right to determine the recycling location and force you to secure insurance for any issues while in transit.

In short, it’s easier and less expensive to dispose of a printer.


Are you shilling for printers?


Not at all. The point is that when thinking big, most brands don’t need a big imaging device in their offices. However, verticals such as legal and accounting (especially larger firms) should lean towards a robust copier to meet their needs. After answering all the above questions, you may find that a combination of copier and printer, tactically placed and utilized, might be the best solution.

What matters is obtaining the printing machine that improves the budget, maximizes productivity, and saves you so much time you can even schedule a time to build a snowman with Anna.

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