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How much paper capacity

How Much Paper Capacity Does My Copier Need?

If you look at a typical copier or MFP (multifunction printer), you’ll notice that the base unit can be expanded greatly through the use of additional paper trays. While these are terrifically convenient, you may wonder what the best method is to determine how much paper capacity your copier really needs. There are some ways to calculate your paper supply needs simply, and I’ll outline at least one of those here.

Before getting too far into the actual math, there are multiple reasons you might want several different paper trays in a copier or MFP. These include:

  • Having different paper type requirements (colors, weights or finishes)
  • Needing different paper size requirements (8.5×11 vs. legal vs. tabloid)
  • Wanting to support additional volume or capacity

A lot of contemporary copiers and multifunction devices have a large capacity tray that can hold anywhere from 500 sheets to upwards of 5000 sheets or more. It’s also not uncommon to have a tray dedicated to sourcing 11×17 (tabloid) paper for reduction to letter size. While there’s no sure-fire way to determine the exact paper capacity you’ll ever need, you can apply some general rules to help you get close. I typically recommend using these rules for the size paper you’re mostly likely to use the most of in your day-to-day operations. For many, this will be 8.5×11 or “letter” sized paper (you can also do this with A4 size if that’s what you use).

Knowing your average monthly volume, divide that by 20 (the average number of work days in a month) to get your daily volume. Assuming your goal is to not have to refill the paper more than daily, multiply that number by 1.5 (150%) to allocate enough overages for busier days when you might print more than normal. Then round up again to the nearest 500. That gives you some wiggle room and will cut down on the number of times you’ll need to add more paper in the middle of the day (or worse, the middle of a print job). A good practice is also to have an administrative worker top off the printer or copier’s main paper tray each morning.

Here is a sample formula you can use:

  • Average monthly volume: 25,000
  • Estimated capacity needed = 25,000/20 x 1.5 = 1,875
  • Desired tray capacity = 2000 (rounded up to the nearest 500)

If you find you are printing more than the capacity of the machine (i.e. it doesn’t allow for enough expansion trays to meet your required estimated volume using the information and formula above) then you may want to consider upgrading when your lease is up. You may have an underpowered machine for what you’re trying to accomplish. Faster, higher-quality machines that can handle larger volumes of copying and printing tend to also have higher-capacity tray options. Using an underpowered machine to do high-volume work will only lead to non-optimal productivity.

About Clint Deboer

When he's not remodeling part of his house or writing the latest power tool reviews, Clint enjoys life as a husband, father and avid reader. He has a degree in recording engineering and has been involved in multimedia and/or online publishing in one form or another for the past 18 years. In 2013, Clint was asked to come onboard CopierGuide and help change the way consumers educate and inform themselves about copiers as well as provide a much easier solution to the task of leasing these machines for business.

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