As an employee at Edwards Business Systems, people ask me daily “How much does a commercial copier cost?” The answer is simple- it depends—and it’s our goal to help answer the question in this article.
Copiers are often called MFP’s, which stands for Multi-Functional Printer. These devices can copy, print, scan, and FAX; however, automatic donut making is not yet available! This article discusses the price of a commercial copier or MFP for general office use and the factors that impact the price. If you are looking for information about a small office or home office printer (“SOHO”), please read our article How Much Does a Printer Cost?.
Commercial Copier Prices
So, how much does a commercial 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 smaller A4 MFP will cost less, and the more accessories you add to it will increase the price. A comparison below:
Black & White Desktop A3 MFP $2000 – $3000
Color Desktop A3 MFP $2500-$4000
Business Class A3 MFP 35 PPM $4800 – $8000
Business Class A3 MFP 50 PPM $6000-$10000
High Speed 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 print in color or black and white?
- Is this for a fleet, small business, or small office/home office?
- Should I lease or purchase?
How many pages do you print or copy in a day, week or month?
What are my needs? How fast do you want to copy or print? How many users 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? If you are hauling a lot of material, would you be better off with a dump truck or a pick-up? Now who doesn’t love a pick-up truck but is it something you want to use to haul 20 tons of gravel?
Since most copier leases range from thirty-six to sixty months, you should make sure the commercial copier you select will last the entire contract term. If you buy your commercial copier instead of lease, you may keep it even longer. Fewer prints mean you can use a slower, smaller device. Less wear and tear and less output also mean less cost.
Many times the workload doesn’t happen consistently over the course of a month. You may have time sensitive deadlines in which large quantities need to be printed in a short turnaround. Two examples are accountants and law offices. Accounting firms may have thousands of financial reports to print in a short timeframe. Law offices have to print piles of closing documents right before a trial begins. In cases like these, you may want to select the larger faster commercial copier to ensure you have the speed you need when you need it.
What size paper would you like to print?
Do you really need 11 x 17? Is bigger better? What are you printing? If you do not need to print on 11 x 17 (ledger) paper or larger, you may only need 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 space envelope. We rarely recommend an A4 device in high-volume environments due to the higher operating cost. Some clients use 11×17 for spreadsheets, banner printing or outputting letter size booklets (a ledger size page folded in half). Desktop A4 devices are about 25 % less than comparable speed commercial class A3 MFPs.
What else would you like your MFP to do?
Just the FAX please! Do you still FAX? Like you, I thought no one Faxes anymore, and I was wrong. Some customers require it (medical) and others that require it as a normal course of business (government). Regardless, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. FAX options for MFP’s are relatively cheap and it lets you can continue to communicate with customers, prospects, suppliers and others who still use this technology. The price for a FAX kit for an A3 MFP ranges from $300-$700.
Finished? Three-hole punch, stapling, sorting, duplexing, and in-line finishing are all convenient functions, but you need to figure out if they are worth the additional cost. Most customers purchase 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 eliminating human intervention to staple and sort multiple sets of documents. Duplexing is included in the price of many larger business class copiers and finishers that staple generally cost between $1100-$2500.
Other finishing options are ordered less frequently but are invaluable for those that need them. One of these is hole punching. Most punching units have the ability to punch both two-hole and three-hole options. This allows for punching two holes at the top of a page or three holes along one side to make flip charts or notebooks, respectively. If your printed documents have differing hole punching configurations, it’s definitely worth the modest increase in cost. The hole punch feature adds $450-$500 to the price of a commercial copier.
Another finishing option is booklet making. Booklet making is more complex than basic office stapling and allows you to create folded booklets, either perfect bound or stapled. These options are typically installed on Production Print units (high speed, high volume) built to do at least 100K prints per month. Booklet makers on a business-class commercial MFP run $2300-3000. If you want to learn more about Production Print Device costs, visit our article on How Much Do Production Print Devices Cost?
Paper Capacity- Load it Up! Do you like loading paper in a copier? Most people do not. Have you ever observed that people will steer clear of a copier if it is out of paper, and will use another device rather than load it back up? All MFP’s come standard with a relatively modest amount of paper capacity. The question is how much paper do you want available online? Do you need different sizes and paper types on demand? Paper handling has improved substantially in recent years and most commercial copiers can print on multiple stocks and mixed media, including envelopes. Be sure to get an A3 MFP with the paper handling capabilities you need so you aren’t constantly reloading paper or having to manually change paper. If you need different sizes or stocks, you should plan to buy additional paper trays. This option can cost anywhere between $1000-$1500 but can be offset by the the cost of a base cabinet.
Do you need/want your output in color or black and white?
Do you see things in black and white? Do you prefer reading color or black and white articles, documents and signs? Most people prefer color. Color will impact the acquisition cost of a copier, but the price delta between color and monochrome (black & white) is diminishing. As a result, 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 to make sure they are actually read. Color improves retention and attention. Do you ever see monochrome websites, blogs, advertisements, or televisions? Probably not. If you need to ration the color output produced with a color copier, controls that come standard with most commercial MFP’s can do this at no additional cost. A color-enabled A3 MFP costs between $200-$500 more than an equivalent monochrome black and white commercial copier.
Financing or buying a copier? What’s the best choice for me?
Lease or Buy? Once you have decided on your A3 copier and options, you will need to figure out how you will pay for it. Options include paying cash or leasing. A vast majority of our customers lease their office equipment. From a cost perspective, cash is a great option as it will cost you less money overall if you have cash to spend. On the other hand, many customers prefer leasing as it conserves cash, and provides the financial advantage of historically low interest rates. Leasing also eliminates equipment obsolescence. There are tax advantages for both methods, including a Section 179 deduction.
What factors increase the cost of a coper?
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 right commercial copier.
Color adds cost
A commercial copier that prints in color will almost always cost more than an equivalent black and white MFP. 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 be able to print large volumes of paper without end user intervention. 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 driven into the fold of the booklet to bind the pages together. Booklet makers also include a folder to create the fold or spine where the staples are inserted. Folders are also a common finishing option, but they are almost always included as a part of a booklet maker.
There are a wide range of costs for office copier finishers. A basic office-class 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 several circumstances in which a business needs to pay as little as possible for a device: startup, high growth mode, non-profit etc. Let’s look at a few ways to reduce the cost of a commercial copier:
Do you really have to have a color copier or MFP? The cost of color is about $200- $300 more per device and the cost of color prints is higher than black and white, sometimes four to five times higher.
If you don’t need finishing then don’t pay extra for it. If your applications don’t require stapling or separating multiple sets, you can reduce the cost of your copier by $1100-$2500.
Like home 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.
Another 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 cheap used copier:
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 experienced skilled 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.
- Many copier dealerships charge more because of the brand of device they represent. Much like automobiles, some brands command a higher price. An Audi will cost more than a VW. 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?
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 many 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 tend to get what you pay for. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. When you buy a copier or MFP, you are entering a three to five-year commitment and you want to be 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 impacts your cost. 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 Edwards Business Systems Fit?
We like to think that Edwards 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 provide a quality copier service. 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.