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The humble printer is a piece of kit still very much at the heart of most businesses. Able to physically create printouts, posters, blueprints for design, promotional material and even a good old-fashioned letter; printers have a practical purpose when it comes to important papers, but also have the power transform creativity into a physicality.
When it comes to choosing your printer, there’s a wide variety on the market. You’ll need to know whether your business requires a single-function or multi-use printer that works via inkjet or laser technology.
Read on for a detailed account of the various costs associated with printer purchase and to dispel some of the myths surrounding the laser vs inkjet printer debate.
Or, for price information that's tailored to your business's needs, you can reach UK printer-photocopier suppliers by completing our quick form.
Baffled by the jargon? Skip to our printer prices FAQs section, where you’ll find the answers to common queries such as:
Investing in a printer usually entails more than just the initial purchase. There are all sorts of things to consider, and getting that best price printer value doesn’t always mean opting for the cheapest model. The costs associated with printer purchase can be split into two categories:
Firstly, here’s a quick breakdown of the price brackets that printers fall into:
Low-tier cost: £100 – £500Mid-tier cost: £500 – £1,500High-tier cost: up to £10,000
The cost of a printer can vary greatly, and the price you can expect to pay will depend upon a variety of factors. These include the scale of your printing demands, whether you require A3 printing capacity, double or single-sided (duplex) printing, and extras like wireless printing, scanning, or even emailing.
For a more detailed account of the prices you can expect to encounter when purchasing a printer, see the below table:
|Type of printer||Average domestic price:(less than 1,000 prints per year)||Average business price:(2,000+ prints per year)|
|3D printer price||N/A||£4,500|
Also important to note: office printing facilities are often provided through multi-functional photocopier devices, which offer several features to improve your business's daily operations in one unit. You can learn more about top UK office photocopiers and photocopier prices on our dedicated pages.
For domestic purposes, or cases where fewer than 1,000 pages will be printed annually, an inkjet printer is the less expensive option (model and manufacturer dependent, of course).
However, if your printing quantities are set to exceed 2,000 copies per year, then the laser option is more cost effective.
An inkjet printer is less expensive to buy in the first place, but has greater upkeep costs. A laser printer is a more costly piece of kit, but tends to be easier to maintain. Toner is also less expensive than ink in terms of cost per page, especially in a business context, where print quantity exceeds 20,000 copies per year.
Hewlett Packard are responsible for manufacturing over 50% of the printers sold in the UK, making HP printers the most popular choice.
HP’s best-selling model, the HP Deskjet 3050A inkjet printer, retails for around £90. Cartridges for the 3050A cost in the region of £10-£15, and will last for 165 colour pages/190 monochrome pages.
Comparatively, the best-selling laser printer manufactured by HP is the HP CP2025 colour LaserJet. With a retail price of £300 and toner cartridges coming in at £110, the initial costs of investing in a laser printer are very high. However, with a print yield of 2,800 colour pages/3,500 monochrome pages, once you’ve invested in a laser printer, the production costs are relatively minimal.Inkjet vs laser in a nutshell
Inkjet printers are initially less expensive than laser printers, but have higher long-term running costs.
This is because the ink is costly, while the complexity of an inkjet mechanism makes it susceptible to breakages.
If you need more information on different printer types to help you make the best decision for your office space, take a look at our best small business printers page.
According to Gartner, Inc., as much as 3% of a company’s revenue is spent on paper, printing, and other associated costs. With this statistic in mind, it’s important that your spending is going in the right direction; you need to invest in equipment that’s right for your business, making every printout matter.
Based on the output of an average laser printer, here’s a rough guide to the cost per page you can expect to incur:
|Paper size and print type||Pence per piece: single sided||Pence per piece: duplex (double sided)|
The prices in the above table are dependent upon the type of paper you choose to use. The industry term for paper type is ‘stock’, which is measured in gsm (grams per square metre) – the thicker the stock, the higher the cost.
Here’s a selection of different stocks, and what they might be used for in the business world:
We would recommend purchasing your paper directly from your printer supplier, as they will be most familiar with the best paper for your model. This can have a significant impact upon your printer’s performance and the quality of your prints.
Aside from the printer itself and the paper you’ll need to print onto, printers require ink or toner, too. Ink is, on the face of it, cheaper than toner, but then again, it requires more frequent replenishment. Toner, on the other hand, is pricey, but longer lasting.
|Average ink cost (full colour)||Average toner cost (full colour)|
|£30 – £60 per machineBi-annual replenishment||£100 – £300 per machineAnnual replenishment|
Top tip: according to the European Toner & Inkjet Remanufacturers Association, by buying refilled cartridges instead of brand new ones, you could make a significant saving of 30-50% on costly inks or toners.
The key things to consider when investing in a printer are:
The above article has detailed some of the average costs you can expect to encounter when investing in a printer. Remember, the initial outlay is not the only expense you will incur – there’s replacement toners/inks, maintenance, and paper to consider.
We hope this article has made clear the initial and ongoing costs of office printing more clear, and that you might now know which printer type will match your needs.
If you’re looking to buy an office printer for your business but would like to speak to an expert, fill in our short form with a bit of information about what you need, and we’ll put you in touch with printer-photocopier suppliers who will send you quotes directly.
An all-in-one printer can usually print, copy and scan as standard, but might also be able to provide services like those described below:
All-in-one printers are suitable for businesses that require a multitude of services from their printer, and print quite regularly in their day-to-day operations. Most business operations, even small ones, could benefit from the features of a multi-functional, all-in-one printer unit.
On a very basic level, inkjet and laser printers differ in terms of what they use to pigment the paper: laser printers use toner, whilst inkjet printers use ink.
As well as the pigment, the method of pigmentation differs between inkjet and laser printers. Inkjet printers work like a pen to paper: wet ink is applied to the paper via a fine, needle-like point. This takes time to dry, and can bleed on low-quality paper.
Laser printers use toner, which is bonded to the paper via a process of photoelectronics, so the colour becomes fused with the paper. This means that toner does not require a drying time, and isn’t likely to smudge. However, as discussed above, laser printers are much more expensive to both buy and run.
If you need a printer but can’t quite afford the high upfront costs, why not consider leasing your printer instead of buying it? Leasing is considered a more affordable alternative to purchasing a printer – find out more in the Startups article on printer leasing.
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Bryn Glover has been Editor of Startups.co.uk since 2017. Running the site's content strategy, Bryn spends a lot of time speaking to entrepreneurs and preparing for Startups' annual editorial campaigns.
Having worked in journalism for just under a decade, Bryn wrote for sites like The Times, Reader's Digest, Independent and Times Higher Education before moving into the small business world.