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Choosing The Right Printer

July 2004
Finding the high-speed/high-volume printer that provides the maximum productivity and cost savings for your in-plant is not easy. Here's some help.

By Michael Fego

There are many printer/copier manufacturers, but relatively few offer high-speed/high-volume models. Since "high-speed" and "high-volume" can be somewhat relative terms, let's first define what constitutes a high-speed printer.

Most experts consider devices with print/copy speeds of 70 pages per minute (ppm) or more to be high-speed devices. For the purpose of this article, we will use this definition.

Manufacturers offering products with speeds between 70 and 90 ppm include Konica Minolta, Kyocera Mita, Sharp, Xerox, Canon, Ricoh and Toshiba. For volumes more than 90 ppm, current options include Xerox, Canon, Ricoh, Heidelberg and Océ. Konica Minolta is also due to release a 105-ppm model in fall 2004. Some manufacturers, such as Konica Minolta, Kyocera Mita, Ricoh and Toshiba, allow two printer/copiers to be connected in a "tandem" configuration, sharing duties on a single job and virtually doubling the output speed.

Now let's look at some of the decision criteria that should be considered when evaluating high-speed printer/copiers.

Know Your Volume

First and foremost, you need to make sure the device you choose can handle your output volume. A good rule of thumb is to take the manufacturer's recommended monthly volume and cut it in half. This is because the manufacturers' volume ratings are formulated in controlled environments with optimal operating conditions that rarely mirror "corporate reality." For example, if you need a unit that can handle 250,000 impressions per month, look for a model that is rated for 500,000.

A far more difficult task is to assess whether or not a device will be able to run your volumes reliably. This is where you'll want to kick some tires during your evaluation.

Even the most reliable machine will eventually need service. Insist on meeting the service manager and getting service references.

You can learn a lot about whether or not a unit will stand up to the rigors of high-volume usage by attending a live demonstration and closely examining the unit's overall construction, especially the components that users interact with most frequently.

Are the components inside the paper drawers made primarily of metal or plastic? What about the document handler, does it seem sturdy or flimsy? Insist that the person doing the demonstration perform a print or copy job that takes at least five minutes. Did the machine run smoothly and quietly or did it shimmy and rattle? Also, keep in mind that even the most reliable machine will eventually need service. Insist on meeting the service manager and getting service references before you leave.


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