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Friday, June 1, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: Don't pick a printer by Duty Cycle ratings

Duty Cycle vs. Recommended Monthly Volume

Duty Cycle vs. Recommended Monthly Volume

Selecting a new printer? Great!

Setting your expectations about how many pages you can print based on the "Duty Cycle" spec? Not so great...

Calculating "Duty Cycle" is a process printer manufacturers go through to stress the printer to the point of failure. It's not meant to be the "run it all the time at this rate" number - sort of like being able to drive your car at 7,000 RPMs for a SHORT period of time.

If you're looking to keep your printer for an extended period of time (I have a friend who has printed 1.5 million pages since 1990 on his laser printer), the "Recommended Monthly Volume" figure is the spec you should use, but be prepared for reverse sticker shock.

For example:

The specs on a name brand laser printer say 21 pages per minute (ppm), 40,000 pages Monthly Duty Cycle, and recommended of 1,000 to 2,500 pages per month. But wait..... do the math: 21PPM x 60 minutes x 24 hours x 30 days is 907,200 pages.

Let's first account for the difference between 40,000 pages and 907,200 pages, which brings us back to "Duty Cycle". Duty Cycle is the percentage of time a device is "on" or "doing" compared to "off" or "not doing". An easy example is to think of a water pump rated at 30% duty cycle --- for every 10 minutes, it's running for 3 minutes. In this printer's case, running it 40,000 pages per month is the "failure point"; just as running the water pump over 30% will cause premature failure.

But back to the spec you care about - the Recommended Monthly Volume. We've all seen ads for cars that show owners with over 1,000,000 miles on their car, meant to convince us to buy a certain make or use a certain motor oil. How many of those owners do you think were driving with the tach in the red zone?

"Recommended Monthly Volume" may not be the number you want to hear, but it's the number your printer can live with for an extended period of time.

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