14 November 2006

Colour printing

Colour printing is becoming affordable — but no free access!

The refresh of large-format high-volume printers in the Division gives us the opportunity to introduce colour printing facilities in each building in the Division. Executive endorsed replacing the older printers with multifunction devices: the cost difference between colour and black MFDs is minimal and with costs of these devices generally coming down we will be able to get colour MFDs for about the same price as we paid for black ones last year.

The challenge is in containing the printing costs. Black prints cost around 1 cent per impression, colour around 10 cents. This ‘click charge’ covers the toner and maintenance of the machine, so apart from the cost of the MFD and the paper, this is all that is paid for keeping the devices printing over their five-year expected lifecycle. As a comparison, desktop colour laser printers like the HP 2800 series cost 18 cents + per impression for toner and drum costs alone, with any maintenance paid for separately in addition to the consumables. Paper cost is extra but then all devices use the same paper so the cost is the same no matter what printer is used.

The devices can be configured to limit the access users have to colour printing: each user can have unlimited, quota-limited or no access to colour printing (but can still print in black). Printing can be monitored by individual user so costs can be managed.

It is proposed that access to printing in colour be restricted to certain individuals in each building. Staff wishing to print in colour would need to send the jobs through these people, with Schools deciding if there needs to be any further approval process (say the permission of the Head of School) before the job was done.

The TSU will monitor usage (and cost) and provide a report to Executive each month for noting: any cause for concern in terms of printing cost could then be identified quickly. If the cost of colour printing did become an issue, policy and restrictions could be tightened up further.