Is it time to buy a new printer or copier for your business? Before making this big purchase, you'll want to know how long the machine is likely to last. Also, what should you know before purchase that'll help ensure your device can survive as long as possible?
Frequently, manufacturers like to say a printer should last around seven years, give or take, depending on the specific model. However—as with most things in life—it's a little more complicated than that. That's because a printer's lifespan is tightly tied to how well you care for the device itself, as well as by choosing the perfect one for your specific needs.
Ultimately, many variables contribute to the lifetime of your device. From the machine's overall quality to prioritizing proper maintenance to important security features, countless factors come into play—and most are wholly in your control.
Whether it's a standalone multifunction copier, a laser printer/copier combination or a simple scanner with a copying feature, modern copier technology represents some impressive engineering and copying capabilities.
The sophisticated copier equipment available today can do a lot. But, regardless of how well a copier is made, it's just a matter of time before it just doesn't make sense to have it anymore. Obsolescence can contribute to this, as well as improvements made by competitive copiers.
And, of course, there's the inevitable malfunction. Even the best copier is going to require repair or servicing eventually.
Granting all of this, it makes sense to ask the question, "How long should a copier last?". At Fisher's Technology, we've been working with the latest and greatest in office technology since 1936, so we've seen the best (and the worst) that commercial copiers have to offer. In this blog post, we're going to be giving you a few things to think about when it comes to modern copier life expectancy.
Estimates are that the lifespan of a floor-standing copier that experiences heavy use is about two to three years. After this time, the companies warns that hiccups and breakdowns may begin to occur. As a baseline, however, five years seems to be a generally accepted average lifespan for a typical floor-standing copier used regularly. At maximum, high-end copiers and floor-standing models that are not used often may last up to seven to 10 years.
How Is a Printer's Lifetime Determined?
As mentioned above, all devices arrive with estimated longevity. Often, manufacturers will suggest around a seven-year lifetime (more on that in a bit). Within the industry, however, a lifetime estimate is actually determined by the number of clicks per month a machine is capable of—a click meaning how many single pages are printed or copied.
Usually, the larger and more robust your device, the more clicks it can take. Just like a car, the bigger the engine under-the-hood, the stronger the machine as a whole. Therefore, a more powerful printer or copier can comfortably take more clicks than a more modest device. In contrast, forcing a modest device to carry out more jobs than it was designed for can cause excessive wear-and-tear.
Say your company chose a machine designed to handle 2,000 prints per month, but you're sending it 3,000 prints per month. In the short-term, the printer may be able to carry out those jobs. In the long-term, however, the machine's total lifespan will be significantly reduced—not to mention the additional and avoidable maintenance.
Lastly, also like a car, the more power within your machine will almost always equal a higher price tag.
It's integral to choose the perfect device for you and your organization's particular needs. For example, don't buy the Super Duty Ford F-450 pickup truck with every bell and whistle if a Honda Civic can perfectly meet your needs. But at the same time, if your company pushes your print quantities to the limit, that higher up-front price will likely pay off in the end.
To determine what your new printer's capabilities will need to be, start tracking how much your company currently prints at a comparable machine each month. A data collecting software or managed print service representative can help you find these numbers.
If you don't have a data collecting software available to track these metrics, here's an extra tip—watch how many reams of paper the machine goes through each month and use that to find the number. Your accounting team can also be a great resource as they'll likely know how often paper is purchased, and in which quantities.
WHAT MAKES A COPIER "GROW OLD”
There are two main criteria that will definitively answer the question, "Is this copier too old?". They are:
- How much the copier has been used. Most copier manufacturers have a baseline for how many hours their machines can be expected to operate effectively throughout the course of their lifespan. Even the copier manufacturers know that nothing lasts forever. A copier that has seen minimal use over a two-year period is going to be in much better shape and have a lot more 'life' left than a copier that ran nearly constantly, from 9-5 every weekday, in the same time period.
- Whether it is meeting ongoing copy and print demand. As businesses grow and scale, their needs for copying and printing are going to naturally change. So, a mid-range copier may not be adequate for a company that has been experiencing significant growth. Even a fairly new copier can be considered 'behind the times' if it can't perform against the demanding needs of the company or individual who owns or leases it.
When we look at these two criteria for any given copier, we're able to determine with some degree of certainty whether or not it's time has come, or if it has a few more years of use.
In taking into account all of the variables that impact commercial copier lifespans, a good average to use when estimating the performance life of a modern copier is five years. That is to say, with moderate use and with reasonable printing demands, most copiers can be expected to perform well for five years.
This estimate increases, however, when we look at the class of higher-range copiers and multifunction printers that are more efficient than their mid- or lower-tier counterparts. Some premium copiers can be expected to still be office productivity workhorses as much as ten years after their date of manufacture. This is because they're able to complete more copying and printing tasks faster, without as much wear-and-tear on precision components.
Another key factor that will contribute to longer copier lifespans is who services it. Copier technicians that use the right replacement parts, maintenance best practices, and specialized tools are going to do more to keep the copier running smoothly.
How Do I Make My Printer Last Longer?
For any machine to last for the long-haul, there's no such thing as setting it up once and forgetting about it. Even if you never exceed your monthly clicks, you or your managed print service team must conduct regular and preventative maintenance. An alert within your device will let you know when that support is necessary.
Also, whether it's for regular maintenance or an unexpected repair, it's always best to use parts and materials created and approved directly from the manufacturer. Within the industry, these parts are called original equipment manufacturer—or OEM—parts. Specially designed for your device, OEM parts will significantly boost your printer's longevity.
Keep the scanner glass of your copier clean with anti-static liquid cleaner and use a mylar bar -- included with most business-grade copiers -- to clean the drum regularly. Likewise, removing dust from the innards with a copier vacuum and cleaner the fuser with a light coat of silicone oil can greatly extend the life of your machine. Above all, always follow the maintenance instructions provided by your copier's manufacturer to get the most life out of your device.
You can always go straight to the source to find out what the MFP/copier lifespan is. Most manufacturers determine printer/copier life expectancy based on duty cycle (the absolute maximum number of pages that can be printed per month at the rated print quality of a machine) and recommended monthly volumes (the maximum amount to print to keep your machine in optimal condition). Bear in mind. However, that duty cycles often represent an inflated number of the machine's actual limit, and it's a good idea to choose a machine with a duty cycle that is much higher than your expected print volumes. Otherwise, you may find your machine coming to the end of its life much sooner than anticipated.
Understanding How Long Copiers Last
The lifespan of your copier depends on the brand, model, and style of the copier itself. There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to how long a specific copier will last. There are, however, some steps that you can take that will help you determine whether it is time to replace your existing copier.
In addition to the specific manufacturer, model and duty cycle, your copier's lifespan depends largely on your copy volume and maintenance. As such, each individual copier's life expectancy varies. Refurbished copiers typically don't last as long as copiers that were bought new, but they can provide greater value in terms of cost of ownership -- for instance, a two-year-old refurbished copier purchased at a value price may still have up to eight years of life. When your device does kick the bucket, recyclers across the country accept large copiers and other office machines, and some copier manufacturers take back their own products for recycling purposes.
Check the manual.
The first step is to check the manual for your copier to find out how long it is designed to last. Most manufacturers will include information on the average lifespan of the copier in the manual. That way, you can tell if your copier is approaching the end of its usable life.
Check the service recommendations in the manual.
Most manuals will have specific recommendations on how often the copier needs to be serviced. This includes information on regular tasks such as cleaning and maintenance as well as other more intensive tasks such as replacing parts. In many cases, they will also have recommendations on how long you should wait before upgrading to a new copy machine.
Do the math yourself.
There is a simple calculation that you can use to get an approximation of how long your copier will last. Start by checking the manual to see how many copies the manufacturer recommends making in between major service visits. Then, all that you have to do is multiply that number by ten. The answer that you get will give you an approximation of how many copies your machine can make before it needs to be replaced.
Printer And Copier Repair
Modern-day photocopiers are capable of performing a variety of different tasks. They can be integrated with other systems to help streamline the overall workflow of your business. Unfortunately, if your photocopier starts experiencing problems, it could disrupt the overall flow of your office, keeping work from getting done as efficiently as it should be. Paper jams or other issues can wind up throwing a wrench in the entire system, slowing down work to a crawl. When a breakdown occurs, you can either choose to repair the copier or replace it altogether. In most cases, your best bet is to go ahead and make the repairs. There are, however, some situations where replacing the copier makes more sense.
Most MFPs, particularly enterprise size units, will need to be serviced regularly in their lifetime. MFP problems can disrupt the overall flow of your office, keeping work from getting done as efficiently as it should be. Even something as simple as an ongoing paper jam can slow down work to a crawl.
Start by having the machine serviced to determine if the problem only requires a minor repair or represents a larger issue. If your copier is on its last legs, there is little to be gained by delaying purchasing a new one. The sooner you get a new copier, the sooner you can get back to business as usual.
If you're leasing your copier and have a Managed Print Services (MPS) contract, it likely covers all of the on-site servicing, maintenance and repair. MPS contracts give you peace of mind knowing that if your MFP experiences any issues, the amount of down-time — and associated costs — will be minimal. For best service response look for a reputable area dealer who carries all parts and supplies in your region vs contacting multinational call centres where you're just another number.
If you do not have an MPS services contract and your multifunction printer copier needs repair, understand that it's not something that should be tackled yourself. Contact a professional to ensure the repair is conducted to the highest standard, prolonging the life expectancy of the machine. Get a quote for the copier repair before it is started as there are some cases when it makes more sense to replace the machine rather than repair, especially if there are better models available that can increase efficiency and productivity. Take these cost benefits into account when weighing up the pros and cons of repairing versus replacing.
Is It Time to Get a New Printer or Copier?
From the perspective of the sales team, a copier should last you around 3 to 5 years. Usually, this is the average length of a copier lease. That isn't as cynical as it might sound. At this point, a sales representative who has your best interests in mind already will know whether or not the machine that you have currently is meeting your needs or whether it is time for you to replace it.
- Are you maintaining the same print and copy volumes that you estimated originally at the time of purchase? Is it less? Is it more?
- Have there been any changes within your organization like the number of people using the copier, new requirements for printing 11×17, need to print colour documents, technology improvements, etc.?
- Is your current copier compatible still with the technology you are using both now and into the future?
Cloud-based, mobile, scanning and security technologies are continuing to evolve very rapidly, so if your copier is unable to keep up, then holding onto a piece of equipment just to squeeze a bit more mileage out of it, in the long run, could end up costing you a lot more. So although your copier could potentially last longer, it might be better to consider upgrading it – or getting an additional copier. A good salesperson will help identify what you actually need, and not simply what they would like to sell to you.
Even for the most diligent teams, a printer's lifetime will eventually come to an end.
Concluding if your machine's time has come involves more than the printer literally falling to pieces. It also goes back to that seven-year timeline which relates to more than the physical survival of the printer. It also concerns the availability of those broken—and all-important—OEM parts.
Seven years after a device has been discontinued, the manufacturers have the right to stop producing its parts. If your equipment breaks down after these parts no longer exist, then it's likely time to retire the machine.
Also, just like OEM parts, a device's security and firmware update features can be discontinued after seven years. In today's world where data protection should always be a top priority, it's critical to stay up-to-date with the latest security best practices to protect your network, your business, and your customer's sensitive data.
In short, the lifetime of a printer really comes down to proper maintenance and choosing the perfect machine for your company.
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Frequently Asked Questions
From compact and simple to complex and sophisticated, there are many types of printers on the market. However, there are six types of printers that are tried and tested: inkjet printers, laser printers, solid ink printers, continuous ink printers, LED printers, dot matrix printers and A3 printers.
Printers are classified as impact printers (in which the print medium is physically struck) and non-impact printers. Most impact printers are dot-matrix printers, which have a number of pins on the print head that emerge to form a character.
In short, printers work by converting digital images and text into physical copies. They do this using a driver or specialised software that has been designed to convert the file into a language that the printer can understand. The image or text is then recreated on to the page using a series of miniscule dots.