One of the common questions I get asked by clients is why when they use their colour printer for limited colour use do they seem to be constantly replacing colour toners. Great question? Is it eating it? Where does it go?
The reality is that colour printers used primarily for monochrome output generally perform less satisfactorily than ones which have a reasonable amount of regular colour output. So what's reasonable? This depends on the device but if your printer is fairly fast, 25 ppm or more in colour output, then you should be running at least 500 to 1000 pages per month on the device in colour. Failing to do this leads to a number of issues.
Colour quality can deteriorate due to the development process being affected by little use.
Toner use can be excessive, primarily because the machine charges the toner, runs the monochrome print and then stops. The colour toner has been charged but does not get used.
Calibration and image correction can be increased since the device "thinks" that colour prints have been done and the unit needs to adjust. Every calibration uses some toner, both colour and black. More calibrations, more toner used.
As in most areas of technology your choice of a printer for your office is affected by more than just price or features. Matching the device to your intended use is a critical component of the choice. If you intend to run very low colour use, you may want to consider a second monochrome device to do the main printing and then only run the colour device for your high quality and colour output.
I recently was reviewing the performance of a colour MFP in a client account and we noted that this client had run as little as 2500 colour prints per year over their 4 year term while doing over 250,000 mono. Interestingly they went through 4 sets of colour toner in that term...about 3.5 times what should have been needed for the volume run. In fact they could easily have run over three times the number of colour prints at no increase in cost since they used the toner anyways through calibrations, warm up,and other adjustments. By trying to be 'careful" about their colour use they actually increased the operating cost of the device. The toner ended up in the waste toner system rather than on documents.
The moral of this story is that you must match your print device to your intended use and run it as it was designed to be run to optimize your value from your investment.
Have you experienced high colour operating costs with low colour usage? Does your colour printer match your output needs?
Photo Credit: Donar Reiskoffer. Wikimedia Commons