As the printer engine turns, costs mount

The long-term costs of using your printer may surprise you

A printer depletes toner and wears out other components at varying rates, leading to operating expenses that fluctuate over time.

Based on our calculations, most color printers cost more to maintain for two years than they cost to acquire. Lexmark's consumables run especially high: 250,000 prints would cost more than $15,000. Kyocera Mita's are comparatively low: less than $6,500 for 250,000 prints.

We calculated the total cost of consumables, assuming conservatively that plain-text pages still comprise 65 percent of office output. We used the industry standard estimate of 5 percent coverage of each color per page; heavier use of any color will lead to higher costs. Finally, we assumed an average volume of 50,000 prints per year.

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