Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs. One of the most common ways to do this post-pandemic is to re-evaluate something many offices did without in 2020 – printing. Most companies will look into ways to reduce the number of pages employees print. Some may even investigate how they can reduce the number and size of their printers. But the go-to for most businesses will be to tackle the most visible parts of the printing ecosystem, ink, toner, and, of course, paper.
Surely there are less expensive ways to obtain paper than through print services companies or printing manufacturers, right? Big box stores and online retailers like Staples, Office Max, and Amazon have regular deals on all kinds of office supplies. With so many available options, finding a cheaper alternative is almost guaranteed. But businesses should be careful about ordering based on price alone.
All Paper Is Not Created Equal
Paper is paper, right? Not at all. Paper comes in all different configurations, and inserting the wrong type can cause all kinds of issues with a printer. The most common problem is paper jams, but it can also lead to additional wear and tear on the equipment, improperly completed print jobs, faded printing, or even ink bleed-through.
One consideration is the size of the paper. Office printers and copiers can handle the “standard” 8.5″ x 11″. But most business-ready machines can also process 8.5″ x 15″ (legal) and 11″ x 17″ (tabloid) paper sizes. Inserting a paper size into a printer or tray configured for a different size will typically cause a paper jam and often lead to excess ink or toner on the rollers and machine equipment, affecting future print jobs.
The Weight Of Paper
Paper also comes in different thicknesses, called weight. The weight designation of a type of paper is determined by the actual weight of five hundred sheets of paper in its basic uncut size. Common paper weights include 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, and 36 lb. An uncut sheet of a common printer paper is usually 17″ x 20″. So, if five hundred sheets of that paper weigh twenty pounds, a ream of that paper cut to size will be labeled as 20 lb paper. The weight of the paper used often depends on the type of paper needed.
Yes, the type of paper. Many different types of paper are created through various processes that affect their coarseness, ink absorption, longevity, and durability. Text paper, for instance, is a thinner paper typically used for magazines and product catalogs. On the other hand, cover paper is built for thickness and durability and is used for greeting cards, business cards, and other items that need heavier paper. Bond paper was initially designed for graphic work involving pencil, pen, and markers. Today it is most commonly used for stationery, letterhead, and office printers. Standard business printers usually use either bond or text paper in 20 lb and 50 lb weights, respectively.
Inkjet Versus Laser
While inkjet and laser printers do not technically require separate types of paper, there are clear benefits, mainly in quality, to purchasing paper explicitly designed for the kind of machine being used. Laser printers, for instance, use extremely high heat to bind the toner to the paper. Therefore, heat-resistent paper is an excellent idea to keep the heat from burning the paper or melting inside the printer.
On the other hand, Inkjets are a wet medium that can soak through a standard piece of bond paper. The results range from simple blurred images and text to runny watercolor. Papers with special color-locking chemicals are more desirable for consistent print quality. They help the paper absorb the pigment without the excess liquid that creates those strange blurred results.
When it comes to printing on just about any paper available, laser printers are the best bet. But even then, there is the danger of going too cheap on your paper purchase.
Whether we like it or not, printers and photocopiers (even the consumer variety) are precision devices. They have small gears, wires, rollers, and an array of other sensitive digital components. And nothing can gunk up electronics quite like dust. But, unlike your average computer, printers have far more to contend with than standard environmental particles – especially when cheaper paper is involved.
The most inexpensive bond and text papers are not as compressed as those brands and types recommended for proper printer compatibility. And that lack of compression makes the paper courser, with more fibers standing out from the surface. Those loose fibers can cause a series of problems, such as being more susceptible to damage from high heat. The courser paper surface can also create more wear and tear on the printer’s rollers. And, of course, less bonded material will shed particles as it is pulled through the machine, generating an increased amount of paper dust.
That paper dust will build up in the printer’s rollers, gears, and other small components. The result is more paper jams, slower print speeds, and lowered efficiency. In addition, increased maintenance is required to clear out the excess paper waste. The long-term costs of these issues (maintenance, roller replacement, and new parts) are often far more costly than purchasing higher grade paper.
There are plenty of ways to cut office operational costs when it comes to printing. But paper might not be the best place to start. The many considerations such as size, weight, and features required to ensure the longevity and efficiency expected from an office printer make choices based on price alone inadvisable. Fortunately, a reliable printing partner, such as Managed Print Services (MPS), printer service technicians, and printer leasing experts, can help determine the best, most economical paper solutions for a business’s printing needs.