Understanding Your Copier's Duty Cycle & Your Printing Volume

Submitted by Karla Metzler on Thu, 11/26/2020 - 09:00
Man holding paper

When investing in a multifunction printer (MFP), it’s important to know the difference between the machine’s duty cycle and the monthly recommended print volume. 

If you don’t know the difference, you’re not alone. 

After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what duty cycle is, recommended print volume, and how to find your current volume. Without this information, you might be spending more time and money on frequent service issues. 

What is duty cycle? 

The duty cycle is the maximum number of prints/copies the machine can produce in any given month. This number is given by the manufacturer.  

For example, Xerox’s Versalink C505 has a duty cycle of 120,000 prints/copies per month. 

While this machine could technically print up to 120,000 high-quality prints per month, service issues will start to add up fast. The machine was not built to be pushed to this limit every month. 

Dealing with repeated repairs is costly and leads to unwanted downtime in the office.  

Why do manufacturers provide duty cycles?  

So, if the machine was not built to be pushed to the duty cycle each month, why does the manufacturer promote this number?   

Duty cycles are primarily intended to showcase the quality of the copier/printer. The Versalink C505 is a high-quality machine because it could produce 120,000 in one month with no flaws, as opposed to a machine with a duty cycle of 8,000. 

Be wary of machines with low-duty cycles. You’ll notice flaws in the print quality much sooner than those with high-duty cycles. 

Printing to this number every month may not be wise but should be taken into consideration when first investing in a machine. 

Follow the recommended print volume 

To ensure your machine has a long and healthy lifespan, print according to the recommended print volume. 

As a rule of thumb, recommended print amounts are usually about 10% of the duty cycle. If you are not sure what your machine’s duty cycle is, reach out to the manufacturer or check the product’s specifications on their website.  

To accurately print according to the recommended amount, not the duty cycle, choose your machine based on your current printing volume. 

If you’re looking for a copier/printer based on the lowest cost, the recommended printing volume typically ends up being much lower than what you need to print. We see this problem often when people opt for cheaper machines from retail giants such as Wal-Mart or Amazon. 

Financially, it doesn’t make sense to buy a cheaper machine that doesn’t have the printing capacity that your company needs. This will cost you more money in the long run. 

To avoid this issue, when investing in a copier/printer, opt to purchase or lease from a copier vendor instead of a retail giant.  

Even if you aren’t looking for a new copier/printer, check that your current monthly volume does not exceed the machine’s recommended printing volume. Following this recommendation will protect and likely extend the life of your copier. 

What is your print volume?  

Volume is how much you print each month. Knowing your current monthly volume is important when searching for a new copier/printer or to avoid overprinting on your current machine. 

There are three different ways to find one’s monthly volume: 

  1. Check your current bill 

Checking one’s current bill is the most accurate form of examining monthly volume. If utilizing a maintenance plan for your current machine, your invoice will likely tell you how much you print each month.   

  1. Check machine’s meter reads 

The second way is to check the meter reads on the machine is to find the current meter count on your machine. This is usually found in the machine settings or on a printed report. 

Take the meter found and divide it by the number of months you’ve owned that machine. This will provide a close idea of the monthly volume, considering you purchased new and the meter started at or near zero. 

  1. How much paper is used each month?  

The third way is the easiest but least accurate. If the previous two options aren’t possible, decide how much paper or paper reams you go through each month.  

Once you understand your volume, you can find the machine that will fit your specific business or home needs. 

Now, go check your volume!  

Overprinting is one of the several major mistakes one can make with their copier/printer.   

At the end of the day, if you are printing to your machine's duty cycle or over the recommended monthly volume, you will suffer from wasted time and money on constant service issues. 

To prevent this from happening, go check your current machine’s volume. Take steps to ensure you are following the recommended monthly print volume. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us for support.