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What Is the Average Life of a Laser Printer?

If you have a fleet of printers, it can be hard to determine whether a printers is nearing the end of its useful life, or if you have years of printing left. We still see some clients running HP LaserJet 4250 printers from 2005, and then there are printers that seem to have been bought last year, already having issues.

We have worked with large clients around the country with their print fleets, and one of the first topics that comes up is how much longer should these printers last.

In this article, we will cover some of the factors that contribute to your printer’s useful life including cost, utilization rate, duty cycle, and technology.

Monthly Print Volume

One of the first factors when thinking about useful life is printing volume. If you print 500 pages a month, or 9,000 pages a month, do you think there would be a difference in how long the printer would last? 

We are not saying that printing 9,000 pages is bad. It is an example. When you print a lot, the useful life goes down.

Think of your car. If you drive 2,000 miles a month or 200 miles a month, will the car last longer, going 2,000 or 200 a month? The interesting thing is, if you print nothing, then the printer can actually wear down sooner. Some printers actually need some print volume to be able to last longer. It helps keep gears moving and the printer from getting too stuck.

We tend to think of a minimum print volume per month and a maximum.  As long as you stay between the numbers, then the useful life will be based on the print engine’s expected life and how long it takes you to get to that number. 

Monthly print volume * months in use = total use.  

If total use > engine life, you should be thinking about replacing the printer.

How Do I Know the Useful Life?

There isn’t an easy answer to this question, but we tend to find if you take the duty cycle of a printer (the amount you could print in one month before it would fall apart) and multiply it by three or four, it should give you a solid useful life estimate.

For example, if the duty cycle of your printer is 200,000 pages, we would think the useful life to be in the 600,000-page range. Of course, with a duty cycle of 200,000, the manufacturer will recommend you only do a maximum of 20,000 pages a month (roughly 10%).

For example, running at the maximum recommended, we would expect the printer to need to be replaced between 30 months and 40 months. If you were only doing 10,000 pages a month, it would more likely get you to 60 months before needing a new printer.

New Technology Needed

One reason some companies upgrade their printers or multifunction printer fleet is because they need a new feature. For example, if the company was simply printing, and now they needed to scan documents back to the home base, this can be a good reason to upgrade.

If they had a monochrome laser printer and now they needed color, this would be another reason to upgrade. Printing needs can be the driver of useful life more than just the mechanical capacity of a printer.

Maybe the print speed needs to be improved. Maybe the printer manufacturer hasn’t updated drivers so your printer can work with key software. Perhaps the print quality isn’t at the level you want, because the color printer is making flyers for your important clients.

Cost Can Force an Upgrade

There are times where the toner cartridge costs more than competitive products, and the cost per print makes getting a new printer a smart plan. If you did 10,000 pages a month, and you were paying 2.5 cents a page ($250 total per month), and you could get a different printer that only costs 1.5 cents a page ($150 per month) – that is a case to swap the printer on the basis of long-term savings rather than mechanical life.

When you work with a managed print services company like United Laser, we help you work through these questions. We look at your monthly volume, your average cost per print, newer model features and costs to give you an unbiased look at your print fleet.

Give us a call or fill out our form to chat about the useful life of your printer fleet and how we can help you maintain and repair your print fleet in a cost-effective manner.