Cost per page of colour laser vs. inkjet

Rhubarb used Ask the Experts™

I'm in a situation where we used to print a few dozen promotional fliers a month so we used the office inkjets for them. Then we got bigger and started to print a few hundred and now it's in the thousands so this is becoming increasingly exensive as you can imagine.

I know a colour laser has cheaper costs per page but I need to know how much cheaper (so we can predict when it will have paid for itself) and which printer is going to give the cheapest cost per page.

Most the statistics are for 20% coverage (5% of each base colour) but our work is all black text with red headings and a blue company logo and I have no idea what coverage percentage it is (it's a few dozen words, large type, and a logo, sometimes we also print a faint blue water mark). Can anyone suggest a way to calculate the cost per page with some accuarcy for both the HP895Cxi's we're using now and a potential laser?

So, to sum up I'm hoping for advice on two things:

A printer that's cheap to purchase up front but especially cheap in the long term, so that's low CPP, low maintenence and a large print tray so it can run unattended. Speed isn't too important, it'll beet the inkjets no doubt.

A way to calculate the CPP of that printer and compare it to our current inkjets.


BTW - I'm considering either a HP Laserjet 1500 or 2500 (not that I can work out the different merits between the two) and even then I can't find a cost comparison between HPs own Laserjets and the Deskjets we currently use.
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This is a very difficult question to answer. In general, inkjets are 50% to 100% more expensive to run than lasers. However, things are not that simple. For starters, the HP Laserjet 1500/2500 are quite expensive to run - their costing is closer to inkjets than other lasers. In addition, 4-pass lasers like the 1500/2500 have the drawback that they are proportionately very expensive for pages that are mostly black with just a little colour. The reason is that the drum then gets used 4 times (once for each toner), while only a tiny amount of colour toner is used. In those cases, an inkjet may well be cheaper. And the other problem with them is the speed: 4 ppm - for your pages an inkjet may be faster.

For both of those reasons I would recommend a single-pass laser such as the HP 4600 or the Xerox C1618 or Phaser 6200. All of these will run at a real 16 ppm. The C1618 has the lowest printing costs (at least here in Australia). The HP is OK at low coverage but gets quite expensive at high coverage (because the drums are built into the toner cartridges). My favourite of the 3, and intermediate in cost, is the Phaser 6200.

If you can get hold of a Phaser 6200 it is very easy to obtain exact printing costs from the printer's job log: it keeps track of the amount of toner used for each job. That, and the cost/life of cartridges will give you a good idea of your printing costs.
I agree with what hdhondt is saying. You'll want a single-pass (or tandem) printer. They're less expensive to run and considerably faster (roughly 4 times faster) than conventional colour lasers. I'd also add the Okidata C5100 series of printers to the list. Also, look at the duty cycles of the printers. You don't want to be printing more pages per month than the printer's rating.
I agree with the above posts.
What you need to do is establish your needs with regards to quality, spped, and cost per page, and match them with an avaialble printer.
We sell OKI, and they are LED printers, not laser.
We also sell RICOH, which are much better in design terms, and have a range between 1 bit 400 dpi, through 1 bit 1200 dpi, to 8 bit 600 dpi.
In terms of colour Laser printers, there are a range of  specifications:

1 bit laser printers. 1 power laser per colour  (i.e. either on or off) uses dithering .quality dependant on DPI and dithering
4 bit laser printers 12 power laser (i.e. 12 levels  of output) as above, but less dithering
8 bit laser printers 256  power laser (i.e.256 levels  of output) Dithering is still used, but mainly for image smoothing.

(plus,for example, some printers are 8 bit , some are 8bit per colour)
as you go up the resolution or power  settings, you go up the price range, and down the speed range.
we sell 22 page a minute 1 bit, and 13 page a minute 8 bit
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I think you are looking in the wrong direction altogether. If you have a multi-thousand handout to produce every month find a local printer with some decent kit and who can produce what you want quickly and cheaply. It will be much cheaper than using a laser printer or an ink jet - also much much faster if he gives a good service.

hjgodeTier 3 Senior Technical Support Engineer

It is very difficult to get the exact costs, as all caculating is theoretically. You can do some calaculation like on or On the first side is also an overview about sample pages and there ink coverage values.
Depending on the volume of the jobs, it is also possible, that a offset print will be much cheaper. But this will be only the case for large volumes. On the other side, if you have personalized mailings, these are not so easy to setup with a offset print and offset printing needs some more time (it is not printing on demand).

A liitle more about calaculating print costs: The same page printed on different printers or printed with different settings (normal or photo mode for example) will cost different and the ink on the page will have different coverages. This depends on many different factors and can not be calculated. Although it is possible to scan a printed page to get the printed coverage there is also ink, that has be gone to the trash during the print (for example at cleaning or calibrating cycles).

To get the feeling for the total costs, it is good enough, to compare the printers with theoretical costs (with using 5% per Color and adding all other consumables costs, ie fuser or special paper). So I think the above links will be a good starting point.
Note to patrickab: If the pages are all the same, and you're printing well over 1000 copies, then you are indeed correct: offset printing is cheaper. If the quantities are lower, and/or the pages are not all the same, then in-house printing is definitely preferred.

The Job Accounting feature built into the current Xerox Phaser printers like the 8200 gives you a pretty precise costing on that particular printer. You can even use that data to calculate the page coverage, which can in turn be used to get a costing on other printers. Of course, as different printers use very different halftoning algorithms, this will only give an approximate cost, but it can still be used to compare printers. If you do this, you should make sure you include *all* the consumables, as many manufacturers do not mention all the things you will need to replace in a colour laser (although the extra bits usually do not add more than a couple of cents per page)

I have the Phaser 860 and the 8200..

DO NOT get an 8200 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you're running 1,000 sheets per month, that'll cost you roughly $280 per month!!

I know... I have the workload and invoices to validate this!

860 is cool because it has free black ink and you just use more black than other colors.. you're straight...

but the 8200 .. uses TWICE the amount of ink for the SAME page... and nothing is free... it sucks.

Not to mention the ink is solid and if you're passing out flyers, the ink actually scratches right off the page..!
1000 pages for $280 is not an unreasonable cost on any colour printer.

I don't know where you live, but here in Australia most lasers cost around $0.20 for 20% coverage (A4/letter size). So does the 8200. For 28 cents you'd get about 30% coverage, which is not excessive. If you're in the US, 28 cents probably means closer to 60% coverage, still quite possible if you consider that a solid page of red, green or blue amounts to 200% coverage (and close to $2.00 down here). Remember, this cost applies to nearly every laser. Inkjets will cost even more.

I do agree that the free black on the earlier models was wonderful. You may still be able to get a second-hand 860 if you shop around.

Lastly, I agree that solid ink is not as durable as laser, but no printer is perfect. Just try using a laser to print acceptable quality on rough recycled paper. Solid ink just loves it.


Thanks all.

Sorry for the delay in response, but our printing needs changed from doing a lot of indivually customised pages to just printing thousands of duplicates. As a result we've outsourced it all to a printers. I took the accepted answer though as it was that answer that started our looking at the higher price printers which we were just about to buy...when our needs changed.

Thanks again.
I am very much confused, I need one for my company, I cannot undersatnd what printer I have to buy, I need the fastest speed printer with Highest resolution, Please suggest me one, I have seen a great article in htt:// and one in and I wrote the summary in Please check my observations.

Thanking you
K Taneja
Ess Dee Nutek Infinities Pvt. Ltd.
Sorry wrong addrees written

You don't need a printer. You need a digital copier.

That is, a copy machine that may be LPT'd up to a computer.  

Check with RICOH / Risograph.
JC MurphyTech Consultant

Does anyone know of a good website for printer comparisons (price, PPM, page cost, etc.?).
You'll want to look at not only the rated PPM of the printer, but the PPM that is actually hit with real-world printing. Google "printer benchmarks" (no quotes - or with quotes for some data.


Have you considered outsourcing printing to an actual printer company? Such companies tend to own (well, lease) high-quality, high-speed, super-expensive equipment that usually provides incredibly low cost-per-page (equipment cost excluded), so even with the markup to cover equipment costs, you may end up paying less than you would if you actually owned printers on your own...

the calculation for the laser is easy, (Model price+(Cost per page*nº of pages Total lifetime))/nº of pages Total lifetime. This calculation assumes that you have a contract with everything included tones spare parts estc, exept paper hte only one that suits your need for my understanding. For a Inkjet that you have it´s easy (model price+amount spned in tonners since the begining)/ nº pages printed. this is the dificult part you have to look for all invoices, adn if the machine has no counter wich is normal i jet printers, and belive me it is not bexcouse is expensive to put one there, it´s for users don´t see the real price they are paying.

Forget the initial machine cost think in the Total cost of ownership of your equipment over life time, beliveme there is alot of person out there spending on a inkjet a lot, with the same amount they could have a good laser printer faster and with better quality. They are wrong when buyng looking only at the machine price, thats is hte least important when you intend to print a lot.

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