Whether you’re installing printers for the first time, attempting to optimize your network, or upgrading a few key printers, scaling hardware to your business can be tricky. Printers are available in every size with dozens of features and options and at every price range. Understanding your needs, what affects demand and usage, and how to optimize for both will help you to get more from your investment.

While these considerations apply to software as well, this article reviews factors affecting hardware, how and where it should be installed, and how many printers and what size printers you need to optimize for needs. Correctly scaling printer hardware to office needs will help you save money, both on upfront printer costs and long-term print costs, maintenance, and usage.

Print Volume

Print volume is one of the first and more important considerations when considering print hardware. This calculation quite simply considers the manual number of pages you are likely to print in each size, type, and quality.

Calculating print volume can be difficult, especially as print needs tend to vary based on industry, factors such as digitization, individuals, and individual education. Take these factors into account when making your print calculation.

Statistics show the median office employee prints about 10,000 pages per year (sometimes as much as 20,000). This averages out to about 35 pages per day of work. You could expect this to drop by about 30% with education and waste-reduction programs and by as much as 70% with digitization and printing alternatives.

However, if you have 75 people in your organization who need access to printers, you can expect an average print volume of about 1,500-2,600 pages per day. This does not include peak usage, which might go as high as 5,000 or more pages per day.

You should replace this calculation with either a professional estimate or with actual data from your office if you have it.

Printers are rated based on normal output using two systems; Duty Cycle and Average Monthly Print Volume (AMPV).

Duty Cycle – Duty Cycle reflects a sustainable print volume per month. This reflects the number of pages that can be printed on a monthly basis continuously under normal use without affecting quality of print.

AMPV – This reflects the volume of print usage expected of the printer or expected by the owner. Your Duty Cycle should double the AMPV at minimum.

Importantly, Duty Cycle does not mean that a printer with a 250,000-page duty cycle can produce 250,000 pages every month without fail. You also have to look at cartridge volume, device engine life, supplies, and maintenance intervals.

If you’re buying a work group printer with an estimated AMPV of 20,000 pages per month and you have a maintenance interval of 15,000 pages, you will likely run into issues.

Printer Location and Number of Users

While it’s important to know how much you’re actually printing, this won’t tell you how to divide that information between locations or how many printers you need. Instead, you’ll need data regarding the number of users and printer location.

Number of Users

How many people are in your office? How many people will be physically accessing a printer at once? While it’s easy to install a single, central work group printer for each office, you might find there are printer queues and wait-lines, which ultimately reduces efficiency and increases costs (you’re paying people by the hour to wait to use a printer).

  • How many people actually print files?
  • How likely are these people to print files at the same time? What are files for? When do these items occur?
  • How quickly does the printer handle a single print request + what is print time per page?

General statistics recommend having one printer per 4-5 people in your office. However, this will go up or down depending on actual print demands and the speed of your printer. At the same time, some waiting is okay. If people have to occasionally wait a few minutes for printer access, it may still pay off over installing another printer.

Printer Location

Everyone who uses a printer should have easy access to a printer (within a 1-2-minute walk). This means you might need additional printers if your office is split by long hallways, if people work on different floors, or if your office is difficult to navigate.

Security and Privacy Needs

Defending on your organization, you may have to choose printer hardware offering security features such as pin login, badge login, and user access management. These tools allow you to comply with regulation for industries such as medical and finance. They also allow you to implement Empty Tray policies, improve data security, and improve privacy. However, they won’t always be enough. In some cases, individuals who handle high-security or very personal data may require their own private printers.

Network Connections

It may be important to pay attention to network connections for your printers. It’s almost always better to use a wired connection for office printing, simply because handling printer volume over networks can be expensive. You may also choose to set up a LAN on your own printer servers for wireless printing, but this may still be costly and slower than broadband.

However, many businesses increasingly prefer to utilize both wired and wireless connections, allowing users to print from devices or to remote print when not on the printer network.

Custom Scenarios

Not every team on your network will have the same print needs. Pay special attention to the print needs of teams like communication and graphic design to ensure they have the hardware they need. It’s often more affordable to source higher-end printers for graphics teams than to outsource printing to a third-party solution.

Here, it’s also important to consider types of printers. Most office needs are best-met with laser printers, which offer speed and precision for black and white and text printing. Offices that need color printing are sometimes better off with inkjet, because it offers more color and color precision.

Choosing printer hardware means assessing your needs, reviewing options, and choosing hardware that meets your needs and your predicted needs for the lifespan of the printer. While this process is complex, managed print services provide it as part of implementation, which includes printer hardware, software, and ongoing management to reduce costs and optimize hardware and software for the office.