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What Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Reveals About Disposable Printers

August 24th, 2022 by Kevin Box

A report showing pie charts sitting in a white printer tray

My father was a small-town Justice of the Peace in rural Louisiana and if you ever opened the closet in his office, you would find his black robe on the left, crammed against the side of the closet and the rest of the closet occupied by stacks of like new printers placed back in the original box from floor to ceiling. He would purchase these small disposable printers at his local Wal-Mart for around $100 each. These printers came with a starter pack of all four colors: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.

He thought he was getting a good deal, after all the hardware was cheap, even if the toner was a little more than he wanted to pay. However, he soon found himself caught in this endless loop of just purchasing a new printer each time the previous one ran out of ink, because the cost of the toner was more than the price of a new printer that came with the starter pack of inks. So, he ended up with a new printer each time and a closet full of old ones.

This sort of model is not only unsustainable financially, but also unsustainable for the environment. My dad didn't print much as a small-town Justice; however, he did replace the printer often enough that it was costing him close to a $1,000 a year.

Of course, when the closet got full of these printers, he would just throw the oldest ones away which meant the disposable printers ended up in the landfill, which is also not sustainable.

His Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) was extremely high since the starter inks that came with these small over-the-counter desktop printers had exceedingly small yields, which meant his Cost Per Copy (CPC) was outrageous.

A spreadsheet showing the cost breakdown of toner

Let me explain. If you purchase a small desktop printer for $324.99 and the replacement inks cost $309.96 and only yields 1,500 per cartridge in images at 5% coverage, means you have a cost per copy in the $.05 cents per Image range. Now imagine you produce 2,500 images a month on this small device. Well, you see it doesn't take much for your TCO on this printer to be high annually.

Now, compare that with purchasing an enterprise level color printer at $750 for the cost of hardware. This device can be placed under a service contract at $50 per month (Flat Fee), so your cost remains fixed no matter how much toner you use. In the end, you would pay more over three years, around $2,300 dollars more, with the disposable model. Once you replicate this over an entire organization with multiple disposable units scattered throughout the workforce, it doesn't take long for the costs to increase to unmanageable levels.

The moral of the story is that organizations should avoid over-the-counter disposable devices due to a high TCO and a lack of security built into the device. Organizations should instead purchase enterprise level printers with high cartridge yields and baked in security.

Function4's MPS Express program offers three product categories to choose from geared to help you optimize your printer fleet, reduce downtime, improve end-user productivity, and vastly reduce your Total Cost of Ownership. Function4 on average saves our clients 40%+ off the cost of retail toner alone. Let Function4 be your one-stop shop for managing your printer fleet.

Posted in: Managed Print Services

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