Man placing paper into the photocopier

How to buy a photocopier

by Angus Jones

title of this topic is a little misleading, as, although you might be interested in a photocopier for your office, these machines do much more. They scan documents, print documents, collate documents and potentially even do some editing. In this guide, we will look at how to get the right photocopier machine in your office by looking at the considerations you should make in your decision.

A photocopier is a machine that makes copies of documents and other visual images onto paper or plastic film quickly and cheaply. Most modern photocopiers use a technology called xerography, a dry process that uses electrostatic charges on a light-sensitive photoreceptor to first attract and then transfer toner particles (a powder) onto paper in the form of an image. Heat, pressure or a combination of both is then used to fuse the toner onto the paper.

WHY do I need a Copier?

Photocopier versus a printer?

If you are a small company and don’t print or copy much, chances are that you don’t need a dedicated photocopier. Instead, you can manage with an all-in-one printer, which you can read all about in our essential guide to printers.

If however, you print large volumes on various sized paper, need-collated documents such as a brochure, or make regular copies of documents, then a photocopier is a good option.

WHAT you need to know about ways to buy a photocopier?

A copier in its simplest form will cost between $500 to $1,000 but as you start adding multiple sized paper, this can easily climb from $3,000 to $40,000 for a high-speed colour machine.

There are generally four ways you can procure a machine for your business:

Buy or rent a photocopier

  1. Buy a new machine outright

    Take advantage of tax incentives, no contracts or leasing fees

  2. Buy a 2nd hand machine. Note a machine from new will often last 5 to 10 years

    Cheaper but may have reliability issues

  3. Lease a machine. Be sure to read our essential guide on leasing.

    Low upfront cost, latest technology, and bundled maintenance

  4. Managed print services. All-inclusive where you pay by the page

    Only pay for pages printed and includes all consumables

Some vendors will combine these options such as a lease including an agreed number of pages after which you pay by the page.

Photocopiers (including printers) require regular maintenance to ensure reliability. It is normal to pay for a service contract to cover this.

HOW to make a decision on which copier

Once you identify that a photocopier is right for your business, consider the following features in your decision-making process:

  • Multifunction – a machine that will do one or more of the following
    • Photocopying
    • Scanning –  photocopier can directly send the scan to your email or computer
  • Black & white vs colour – ability to produce mono and/or colour. Cheaper machines will be mono only
  • Network – Can have a Wi-Fi and/or Ethernet port to connect to your network
  • Paper size – Support single or multiple paper sizes. A4 (standard), A3 (2xA4), A5 (1/2 of A4)
  • Copy speed – the number of copies that can be printed in one minute expressed as ppm (pages per minute). Consider how much the machine will be used per day, and if a lot of large brochures, flyers, or brochures need to be printed
  • Paper capacity – based on your expected usage, how much paper it holds in its trays
  • Auto doc feeder – instead of placing each page on the glass, a feeder does the work for you
  • Sorter – If printing a 10-page document 5 times it will collate the 5 documents for you
  • Stapling – Ability to staple a collated document for you
  • Reduce or enlarge – the ability to shrink or enlarge text/image on a page from the original
  • Envelopes – If needed can you mass print addresses on envelopes
  • 2 sided – This could be 2 sided scanning or 2 sided printing.  2 sided printing will save paper
  • Toner saving – Toner can be applied at a lower percentage thus saving toner and money at the expense of quality
  • Standby – The machine can go into standby mode to save electricity when not being used
  • Staff identification – allows usage/costs to be identified by individual or job
  • User interface – Consider how simple it is to operate for everyone in the office
  • Security – A feature that enables printing from a PC to be delayed until the user is at the printer to collect confidential documents
  • Manufacturer and support – Ensure the reputation of the vendor and the repair staff.  How quickly will they come to repair a machine?  Do they have the technical ability to keep the machine reliable?
  • Managed machine – By being connected to the internet, the machine will send alerts to an internal employee or maintenance company to indicate an issue or even restock toner
Ongoing costs that should be factored in:
  • Paper
  • Toner
  • Service
  • Drum replacement (every 2 to 3 years)


When talking with a photocopier salesperson it’s good to have an idea of the following:
  1. Do you need black & white (mono) or colour printing?
  2. How fast do you need your machine to print (copies per minute)?
  3. How many copies will you print per month?
  4. What size and type of paper will you need to print?
Questions you may ask the dealer/vendor include:
  • How long have you been in business and your staff been working for you?
  • Do you sell multiple brands or only one? Which do you recommend and why?
  • What happens if it breaks down? What are your service agreement T&C’s
  • Do you have a replacement guarantee?
  • Am I responsible for sending a machine in for repair or will it be collected?
  • What is your service response time?
  • How many in-house technicians are available for this model in the local area?

SUMMARY – Reliable Photocopier

For a small business that relies on a lot of printing and copying, a dedicated photocopier will ensure good performance and that you’re not spending too much per page.  However, don’t be oversold on what you need and make sure that the machine can be quickly repaired in the event of a breakdown. More information on Photocopier pricing can be found here

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