Digital Copiers - Prices and Features

Analog copiers are a thing of the past. They have been replaced by digital copiers that not only produce higher-quality replications at greater speed but also offer advanced functionality and features. The main question, then, for the modern small business isn’t whether to choose a digital or analog copier—in fact, analog copiers have been almost completely phased out. The question is what type of digital copier is right for your business.

Key Features of Digital Copiers

The available features of a digital copier can be overwhelming for the average buyer. While many are handy and even necessary for some businesses, it’s important to choose a machine that meets your specific needs. This is done by focusing on the features that are most relevant to day-to-day operations. They include:

  • Digital Copier Volume: Copier volume refers to the number of documents a machine can produce in a month without being overworked. Most small businesses have copier volume under 10,000 copies/month, but you’ll need to review your actual paper usage to determine the required copier volume. Don’t forget that if the copier is used as a network printer, this will increase volume. To be on the safe side and allow for future growth, add 10 to 20 percent to your volume figure. For volume under 1,000 copies/month, a small office copier may be sufficient.
  • Digital Copier Speed: Expressed in pages per minute (ppm), copies per minute (cpm), or outputs per minute (opm), copier speed ranges from 15 to 100+ ppm. Speeds of 20 to 50 ppm are sufficient for most small businesses. Home office copiers (which can be purchased at stores such as Staples) generally have speeds of less than 20 ppm, while large commercial copiers (like those found at print shops) have speeds of 70-100+ ppm. Note that there are different speeds for black and white and color copies.
  • Multi-function Digital Copiers: Almost all modern digital copiers do more than create copies. As multi functional products (MFPs), most copiers double as a network printer in addition to providing fax, scan, and email capabilities. If your main office machine tasks are copying and printing (true for most businesses), it doesn’t make sense to worry too much about features such faxing and email address storage.
  • Digital Copier Memory: Digital copiers have memory (RAM) similar to what’s found in a PC. Stock memory (expressed in MB) should be sufficient for everyday copying, printing, scanning, and faxing, but higher memory (16 MB or more) may be needed for advanced functions such as image editing and/or multiple users. Note that on some machines copier memory, fax memory and printer memory are allocated separately.
  • Other features: The features described above determine the baseline performance of a digital copier. Additional features that may prove useful to your business include:
    • Recirculating automatic document feeder (RADF): improves double-sided copying
    • Finishing (such as stapling, three-hole punch, and folding)
    • Image editing (page numbering, watermarking, etc.)
    • Wireless LAN interface
    • Security (user authorization to control data access)

Digital Copier Machine Costs

Digital copiers vary widely in cost depending on features and functionality.

  • Home office copiers can meet the needs of very small businesses. Digital Copiers that produce up to 15 ppm (B&W) start at a cost under $300.
  • The next level of digital copiers cost $1,000 to $2,000. Copy machines in this price range are capable of up to 20 ppm.
  • Digital Copiers that produce 21 to 35 ppm and come with a full range of features cost around $3,000 to $13,000 for black and white digital copiers and cost up to $20,000 for color.
  • In the 36 to 56 ppm range, expect to pay prices of $40,000 to $60,000 for a business digital copier. This type of copier should be sufficient for all but the largest organizations.
  • Print shop grade copiers—capable of 100+ ppm and hundreds of thousands of pages per month—cost $75,000 to $100,000.
  • Many businesses choose to lease their digital copiers, rather than buy a digital copier. Click here to learn more about copier leasing.

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