print volume

When preparing to lease or purchase a new multifunction print device there are multiple factors that impact your decision. One of the most critical factors to determine what device is right for you is your organization’s print volume. Print volume refers to the number of prints and copies an organization produces regularly. This is typically a monthly measurement.  

Why Print Volume Matters 

Monthly print volume has an enormous impact on what device or devices your organization should use to efficiently meet your print and copy demands. The devices you use should be capable of printing the volume you need without going overboard.  

A print device that is being utilized outside of its recommended volume will cost substantially more to run. If you overuse or underuse a device, the yield on all supplies and parts decreases, which increases the costs involved in having to service the device. This occurs as a result of the processes a copier runs to maintain itself after every job, such as, calibration and process control.  

A trustworthy copier dealer will determine your average monthly print volume before recommending what equipment you need. This way you know the equipment isn’t going to be  a bad fit for your needs. 

The Impact Volume Makes on a Device 

Here is an example of the effects of using a copier outside of its recommended volume specifications. When working with a prospective customer, we uncovered they had previously purchased a 20-ppm multifunction printer with a recommended volume of 3,000 pages a month. However, they were running 10,000 pages a month on that device, that’s over 3 times the recommended volume! This organization was frustrated with how often the device was down and how often they required service.  

When a device is not the right size for an organization’s needs the machine will experience increased downtime. This downtime occurs when waiting for parts or toner to be delivered or when waiting for the service technician to complete a repair. In the above scenario, parts and toner that were supposed to last for 6 months were worn out in just 2 months, tripling the downtime.  

Overall, even though the device was less expensive up-front, it ended up costing the organization much more in the long run. Not to mention, the life of the machine was substantially shorter and required replacement sooner. 

How to Determine Your Current Print Volume 

To accurately match your organization with the best equipment for your needs, you must know your estimated monthly print volume and where the volume comes from. For example, do certain individuals print/copy a lot, or does one department contribute far more volume than the others? 

Depending on the size of your organization and your estimated print volume, your organization may be more efficient and cost effective if you have multiple print devices. On the other hand, small organizations with low volumes may only need one shared multifunction printer. 

Now, let’s cover the various methods you can use to find your monthly print volume. 

1. Observation of Current Billings 

The first option is viable if you have a current print service provider. In this case, your invoices will show the volume for each billing period. Simply compare multiple previous invoices and take an average.  

2. Collection of Current Equipment Meters 

If you don’t have a current vendor, another great option to determine your print volume is through your equipment’s meter readings. Meter readings refer to the total number of pages a device has run. This is accomplished through a series of data collections. For example, collect the meter readings of your devices at the start of each month for 3 months in a row. Then take the average of those readings.  

To learn how to collect meters on your device, click here.

3. Note Paper Usage 

A third option is to look at how much paper you go through each month. If your organization goes through cases of printer paper quickly your volume is high. Simply calculate how many sheets of paper you have used over the last few months to get the average volume.  

Please note this number could be off by as much as half if your organization prints their documents double-sided. Print volume is measured in “clicks” – the number of single-sided pages your device outputs. 

4. Use of a Data Collection Agent 

In some scenarios your service provider may have installed a data collection agent, such as FM Audit, that can easily tell you your print volume history. If you have a data collection agent, you can access the portal to see your device meter reading history. 

Otherwise, if you are looking into working with a new dealer, that company can install a data collection agent to find an accurate measurement of your average monthly print volume. Don’t worry, a tool like this cannot access your confidential information, the dealer will only have access to your meter clicks, toner levels, and device service errors.  

5. Print Management Software 

A final option is available if you have a print management software tool, such as PaperCut MF. In PaperCut MF users can see the devices’ print volumes. However, these numbers can be skewed, unless you select the “Validate page counts after printing (hardware check)” setting.  

validate page counts - PaperCut

Inconsistent Volume 

When calculating your company’s average print volume, be aware of inconsistencies from month to month. For instance, a church may run a much high quantity of prints in December because of a Christmas pamphlet. If you have a busy season and print a high quantity at a certain time of year, you may need to buy a device suitable for your high production times.  


In conclusion, volume is a key factor in determining what print device is best for your needs. However, it is not the only item to take into consideration. In addition to volume, consider:  

  • Quantity – will your organization need multiple devices? 
  • Type – will your organization need a desktop printer, an A3 or A4 multifunction printer, or a combination? 
  • Speed – does your organization need a device capable of printing a high-quantity of pages per minute, or multiple devices with slower speeds? 
  • Paper capacity – will your organization need a device capable of holding a lot of paper in the drawers, or do you typically run smaller batches? 
  • Location – is one department responsible for a higher volume than another? 
  • Color vs Black & White – do you print in color, is so, how much volume is in color 

If you’re unsure what print device you should purchase, a print expert can help pair your organization with the best equipment for your needs. Additionally, if you need assistance in determining your print volume our team would be happy to help.