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From carbon paper to inkjet printers – 44 years in an industry

As a young salesman for IBM in 1966, one of the products I had to sell was carbon paper. Most people are too young to remember placing carbon paper in their typewriter to make extra copies for distribution. What a tedious job when you made an error and had to erase five or six pages.

In the ‘60s the only way to circumvent this was to rent an expensive copier from Xerox. Only the largest companies could afford them and you couldn’t buy one.

In the late ‘60s Savin and other companies changed that and almost put Xerox out of business. Read Xerox: American Samurai on how the company recovered from the disastrous ‘70s facing the competition from low-cost liquid plain paper copiers. Xerox was forced to sell and lease copiers by the competition and with its superb R&D department, invented its high-speed Docutech copier duplicator digital copiers.

Today, digital copiers perform all four functions by copying, printing, scanning and faxing. The industry has changed again, with printer convenience growing in the office by placing a printer on everyone’s desk. Today there are an average of six printers for every copier and, with the growth in color exploding, a more expensive color printer is needed in today’s office.

According to my manufacturing sources, in the near future all copiers will be color. Remember when you had a choice of black and white TVs or color, and now you can only get color? Soon that will be the case for copiers.

In some offices, they start with color by using an inkjet at 50 cents a page, then move to laser color at 25 cents a page. When their volume grows, they should get a color copier where their cost goes down to .08 cents per page. The key here is volume; if, for example, they are doing 1,000 color images with an inkjet, it would be $500, for laser $250 and for a copier $80.

Today a company that is worried that employees will abuse the color copier by making unneeded color pages can use the management control feature that uses a number that can track individual usage.

A few years ago when someone made a black and white print on a color copier, it would blend four colors to make a processed black. In other words, you were paying for a color page but getting a black and white page. Today the technology is different. When you make a black and white print, it only uses black toner; when you need color, it mixes the four toners black, cyan, magenta and yellow.

The problem most companies don’t take into consideration is the imaging industry tells you that you are going to get so many pages (yield) from a cartridge. That is true if you are only putting 5 percent of ink on the paper.

In other words, paper is 95 percent blank and only has 5 percent typing on it. Most people print over 15 percent on the paper so if the manufacturers say you are going to get 6,000 pages at 5 percent when you use 15 percent, you will only get 2,000 pages and less if you fill the page.

With color you use 20 percent of toner to get 5 percent fill because you are mixing the four colors. So if you do a lot of color on the page, it becomes extremely expensive if you use inkjet or laser. Most copier companies allow you to do as much as you want for the .08 cents a page on a color copier.

My recommendation, if you have a lot of convenience printers and want the ideal set-up for cost and convenience, have an imaging study done and your honest imaging representative can guide you to the right solution.

Today’s technology in imaging is getting better and less expensive than a few years ago. For example, if you have a monochrome copier and want a color unit, you should be paying about the same as you did five years ago for mono and get color.

Also, network faxing is available where you can have the documents sent to your PC and look at them before you print them. Today most people throw out 40 percent of the faxes they receive on paper and if you have a stand-alone fax, it is costing you 15 cents a page – especially the junk faxes.

Recently, our manufacturer came out with a fax that can be programmed to look at the incoming number and route it to the right person. For example, if someone in your company handles a specific area code, it can be set up to route it to them.

This column was written by Dave Silva, president of Automated Office Systems in Boise. He may be reached at (208) 376-5959.

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One comment

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