Second-hand office laser printer with good quality prints.
January 8, 2014 11:27 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a laser printer for our studio / office. A second hand one seems sensible and I understand the page count is important, but it's hard to find decent information on the internet about which companies are reliable and which machine produce good copies and have cheaper spares and toner. A3 is important and so is a high quality print. I was looking at a Ricoh Aficio CL7000, but I don't really have any idea! Any help would be fantastic as would suggestions of where I should be buying this thing.
posted by debord to Shopping (3 answers total)
monotone or color?
posted by raildr at 7:49 AM on January 9, 2014

The Aficio CL7000 is a fine printer, but getting a bit long in the tooth (intro 2003). Most printer manufacturers officially retire models after 7 years, at which point they often stop producing parts and supplies, or greatly reduce their production. While users can often find aftermarket / compatible toners, sometimes for years after the manufacturer has abandoned the model, the same is rarely true for the other, equally important consumables like drum units, transfer belts/rollers, fuser units, and so on. All too often, I've seen a customer buy an older printer that's already been cut off by the manufacturer, only to find they can't locate drums or other supplies.

You can use a site like Precision Roller to get some basic information about a printer or copier, including it's intro date. (US site; may not have info about overseas models.) An older printer will probably cost less, but the tradeoff is less long-term availability of support and supplies. Newer printers may cost more, but you'll enjoy longer support from the maker, and generally will have a more reliable (as it has few pages on it) printer. An additional concern is driver support; many manufacturers do not continue driver support after a model has been discontinued, so you may not be able to locate drivers for older models. Some makers like Kyocera have adopted a unified driver architecture with their "KX" drivers, which has greatly extended the usable life of older models, and simplifies IT deployment as the one driver package supports the entire Kyocera lineup. Before deciding on a used model, you'll want to check the manufacturer's site to make sure current drivers are available for whatever operating systems you'll need support for.

You'll also want to make sure you have a supporting dealer in the area. A3 printers are generally too big to haul around easily, so in the event you have a problem that you can't resolve yourself, you'll want to be sure there's a dealer in your area who can service the equipment for you.

Once you've narrowed it down to one or two models, go to the maker's website and download the user manuals for those printers. Read through the user maintenance sections, where it talks about the general maintenance the user must do, like changing toners and other consumables. Read through the procedures and make sure you're comfortable doing what is asked of the user. Generally, the shorter the life of the consumable, the more accessible it is to the end user. Toners, with a life of up to about 20,000 pages, as well as waste toner bottles, some drums, and such are generally replaced by the end user. On some printers, like the Kyocera FS-C8500DN A3 model, the drums, developers, fuser, and transfer components are very long-life (300,000 pages), so they rarely need to be replaced and have a very low operating cost; however, the trade-off is they're not meant to be replaced by the end user.

Are you going to run this printer fairly hard (more than 30,000 pages per year, say) or will it see light duty? The more you run it, the more important it's Total Cost of Operation (TCO) becomes. Lexmark, Samsung, and OKI generally have very high real-world TCOs, with the trade-off being that just about all the major consumables are designed to be replaced by the end user. Not just the toners, but the drums, fuser, transfer belt, etc. are all "click in, click out" and meant to be easily replaced by the average end user. Ricoh, Konica-Minolta and Canon generally have slightly lower operating costs, but with fewer user-replaceable parts, which may require more intervention by a trained technician. Kyocera has about the lowest real TCO out there, but due to the long-life components (up to 600,000 pages on the current models), pretty much only the toners are user-replaceable, with the rest requiring a technician.

tl;dr, narrow it down to a couple models with the features you like, then do the research to find out how old they are. 5 years or less is ideal. Download their user manuals to see what components are user-replaceable, and if you are comfortable with the procedures. Finally, make sure you have a source for all the consumables. Good luck!
posted by xedrik at 8:49 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for all that. You are very, very kind.

And raildr - colour with a decent dpi.
posted by debord at 7:20 PM on January 9, 2014

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