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Printer Recommendation Guiding Principles

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This document is an overview of the process and overarching philosophy behind our printer recommendations.

Guiding Principles:

  • Compatibility: Printers should be compatible with Windows and Macintosh platforms with possible Linux support if needed. The printer should have at least PCL or PostScript support.
  • Economics (Total Cost of Ownership): Inexpensive printers often have high supply costs, and more expensive printers tend to have lower supply costs. Total cost of ownership over a three-year period is taken into account based on initial cost, toner and supplies, and energy usage. Maintenance costs are not included. Inkjets are generally not economical because of material waste and high total cost of ownership.
  • User Requirements: Recommendations are for staff and faculty as well as labs. Printer requirements should meet workgroup sizes and needs (B&W, color, multi-function, accounting, large format paper, etc.).
  • Print Speed: Consider printing needs of users and workgroups. Speed may be more important for groups sharing one printer, with high volume printing needs, or specialized printing requirements.
  • Features: Maximize important features (duplex printing, LCD screen, etc.), and keep unnecessary features to a minimum (e.g., wireless, Bluetooth, memory card readers, etc.).
  • Future Proofing: Plan for the printer to be retained and functional without upgrades for three years. For high-end printers (>$1,000), consider an extended warranty, since most vendor warranties are only one year.
  • Energy Standards: Select models that meet Energy Star standards (EPEAT is unavailable for printers). These printers will have sleep and standby modes, which is where printers spend most of their time.
  • Stanford SmartMart: Printers should be available for purchase in SmartMart (except large workgroup printers, which are typically purchased directly from Stanford preferred vendors along with maintenance agreements).


 These items should always be included with any recommendation:

  • All printers must be Energy Star certified.
  • All printers must have duplex printing and have Ethernet networking.
  • All printers must be laser or similar (e.g., solid ink).
  • Printers should have at least a one-year warranty with Monday–Friday 8–5 technical support.
  • Printers should be considered for small (up to 5 users), medium groups (up to 15), large groups (15+ users), and department (30+).

Selecting a Vendor and Model:

  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) = purchase price + 3 years of toner and supplies + 3 years of energy usage
Last modified January 22, 2019