There comes a time when nearly every small business will outgrow a consumer-grade inkjet. If the slow print speeds don’t get you, the high cost of ink cartridges will. Small and midsize businesses use laser printers primarily for their fast print speeds, crisp text, and long duty cycles. And though laser printers are generally pricier and than inkjets, they are less expensive to operate over time; you’ll spend less per page on laser toners than you will on inkjet printer cartridges.

After clearing a spot for a laser printer addition – they’re larger than inkjets – a small or a midsize business will quickly discover its many benefits. In this article, we will discuss the different types of laser printers, the various features they offer, and how they meet the specific needs of small and midsize businesses.

Duty cycles and page yields
In addition to fast print speeds and crisp output, a laser printer’s chief attraction to small and mid-size businesses is its long duty cycle, according to one major manufacturer. Laser printers run longer, are designed for heavier workloads than consumer-grade inkjet printers, and are able to print more pages during their life cycles.

You’ll see some higher-end, high-volume laser printers with max duty cycles as high as 300,000 pages a month, which equates to a recommended monthly print volume between 10,000 to 30,000 pages a month. Even midrange models are rated with recommended ranges of roughly 3,000 to 12,000 pages per month.

For example, during 20 work days each month, that midrange model gives you 150 to 600 pages a day. With those figures, a small business can keep humming along without worrying about repairing or blowing out a printer.

Another advantage that helps keep busy offices running smoothly, focused on core business objectives and not printer maintenance, is the fact that laser printers require fewer interventions when viewed next to inkjets. This means a toner cartridge is able to print more pages than an ink cartridge before it runs dry.

Laser toner cartridges have page yields in the thousands while inkjet cartridges have page yields in the hundreds. A typical high-yield laser cartridge has a page yield of 10,000, while extra-high-yield laser cartridges can top 30,000 pages.

The other major consumable on a laser printer, the print or imaging drum, needs to be replaced about every third toner replacement, while fuser kits typically have duty cycles numbering in the hundreds of thousands of pages. Few things halt office productivity like a workgroup printer that is constantly out of ink. With a laser printer, particularly one with a high-yield toner, you’ll make fewer trips to the supply closet or Staples to replace toner cartridges. The printer will stay online for longer periods of time, which means your business can remain on track.

Need for speed
Another office bottleneck? Having to wait for the job you sent to the printer to be completed. A productive, contributing member of your office is not someone twiddling his thumbs or worse, distracting other employees while he waits for the arrival of his printouts. Laser printers offer fast speeds that keep the print queue moving. A midrange laser printer can print 40 monochrome pages a minute or a page every 1.5 seconds. At that pace, a print job will likely be completed by the time you get up from your desk and walk over to the printer.

The speed advantage of a laser may be larger than it appears when looking at the speeds listed in a manufacturer’s specs, according to one printer manufacturer. A laser printer offers crisper text and graphics than a comparable inkjet. In order for an inkjet to approximate the print quality of a laser, it must print in high-quality mode. The rated page-per-minute speeds manufacturers quote are often taken from running in standard mode. Thus, you’ll get fewer pages per minute than the figure listed on a manufacturer’s spec sheet for laser-like print quality on an inkjet.

CPU speed and memory allotment are two specs that at face value have a large effect on print speeds. After speaking with two printer manufacturers about the specs needed to keep pace with the average workgroup or small office, we recommend a minimum of a 400MHz processor and 32 MB of memory for monochrome printers and a 500MHz processor and 64MB to 128MB of memory for color laser printers. Some models allow for memory expansion, an important consideration for any growing business.

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