Printer manufacturers have always had A4 multifunctional devices in their ranges. Typically adapted versions of single-function home or small office printers, they never really had the grunt to make it in the business world. But over the last five years, brands such as Canon, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, and Toshiba have introduced A4 multifunctional devices that really mean business.
It is perhaps a good idea at this point to introduce you to the concepts of MFPs and MFDs.
Adapted versions of low volume single-function printers with added scanning and copying facilities. Typically with a lower purchase cost but higher running costs. Poorer build quality means devices break more easily and are replaced more frequently.
Built from the ground up for higher volume printing, scanning and copying. Typically with a higher purchase cost but significantly cheaper running costs. Better build quality means they can withstand the rigours of office use and are comparable with their A3 siblings.
So, what has changed to drive this new demand for A4 MFDs? We have asked our customers, and this is what we found.
It seems that many documents either created in-house or received are likely to be A4 in size. We reason that where once it was the function and pride of graphic designers to create impressive A3 booklets, this has reduced because the A4 format is more suitable for viewing on digital devices.
Office space is expensive, and we are finding clients, particularly in London, are thinking more about their equipment buying decisions. It is not just printers either. We actively help our clients to introduce document management software to digitally archive their paperwork, removing the need for large filing cabinets taking up expensive floor space.
Digital transformation is changing how we work, which means people are printing less. Perversely, where once multiple A4 MFPs were replaced by a single high volume A3 MFD, we are seeing the introduction of more convenient and productive multi-use departmental A4 MFDs.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected how many of us work, with lockdowns encouraging those that can to work from home. Businesses had to evolve quickly in a race of survival of the fittest. Many of our clients initially bought A4 consumer MFPs, but have since upgraded to true A4 MFDs.
Why would you buy an A3 MFD unless you were printing A3 documents? Up until relatively recently, many organisations have printed A4 booklets inhouse, such as brochures, training manuals and property details. But things are changing with the ease in which these documents can be cost-effectively outsourced to online digital printers, even with next day delivery.
No doubt you scan more than you photocopy these days. Scanning is vital for businesses and their document workflows and therefore paper jams when scanning are a real problem. Up until recently, only A3 MFDs came with the high-speed document feeders designed for frequent and high-volume usage. But with the invention of the new A4 MFDs, businesses can afford to buy more devices to give their employees’ access to convenient scan stations.
As previously mentioned, working from home due to the pandemic saw users buying cheap A4 MFPs. But weeks after, when their “starter inks” became depleted, they received the shock of buying their first set of “full inks,” which could cost more than the initial price of the printer. We are replacing these devices with true A4 MFDs and helping customers to recycle their old printers.
While A4 MFDs are less expensive than their A3 counterparts of the same print speed, they are not half the price. The reason is they have all the other advanced functions and features of the A3 devices. However, when planning for a new national print fleet, for example, the savings certainly add up. We are also seeing schools replace many of their A3 MFDs with A4 versions, which cost less and can sit more easily in classrooms than in corridors.
Are you in the market for a new A4 MFD? Contact us to find out more.