SMB Tips on Faxing, Scanning, Copying and Printing

Paul Mah

My HP all-in-one multifunctional recently started to develop problems. Since it has already rendered seven years of flawless service, I went scouting around for a replacement. I have not decided on a specific plan yet, but my research did get me thinking hard on how an SMB would approach its requirements for faxing, scanning, copying and printing.


Unlike an enterprise that would use such functions heavily, the usage volume of many small and medium businesses means that it generally wouldn't make sense for them to purchase high-end multifunctional machines. In such situations, they probably will find themselves agonizing over the best combination of machines to serve their business needs.


While I certainly do not have a "fix all" solution, I hope my tips and advice below will be of assistance to SMBs in a similar spot.



While it is true that many organizations no longer use fax as heavily as in the past, this is one technology that will take a while yet to die completely. For now, even companies that do not rely on faxing as part of their core business will want to maintain at least one fax line. The challenge here is that faxing capabilities are typically only found on the top-tier multifunctional machines, or out of the league of SMBs that send or receive faxes only occasionally.


One possibility that I've mentioned in the past would be to rely on a hosted fax service. This works particularly well if there is no need to send outgoing faxes, and it has the added benefit of being able to filter out spam faxes prior to printing.


If there is a need to send the occasional fax though, one way would be to pair a hosted fax service with a cheap low-end inkjet fax machine. I've seen them being sold for as low as $100. Simply use the cheap fax machine for sending out faxes as necessary, and rely on the hosted fax service for incoming faxes. This is easily done by printing the number of the fax service on company letterheads and calling cards.


Regardless of what you eventually go for, I would not recommend using an inkjet fax machine to print faxes at all. I shall explain more on this below.


Copying and scanning

I've decided to combine copying and scanning because modern copiers are generally able to scan, and scanning is halfway to making a copy already. One consideration here is whether a multi-sheet feeder is necessary. This is because a flat-bed scanner is generally cheaper compared to high-volume sheet-fed scanners. Having said that, a flat-bed is not an option if you scan more than a couple of sheets at a time or for archival purposes.


If your SMB heavily uses copying on the other hand, I recommend getting a dedicated laser-based copier machine. This makes sense if copying is part of a workflow process or legal requirement.



When it comes to printing, my advice would be not to use inkjet printers under any circumstances if the volume of printing in your SMB is anything higher than "very low." The reason is simple: the liquid ink used by inkjet printers is so expensive that it has been called liquid gold by some. In fact, if possible, I would not recommend the use of inkjet printers outside the art department.


I could go on, but I think I'll just leave it for another blog.



Ultimately, high-end multifunctional machines might still be the best option if your printing volume is high. And because high-end multifunctional generally have built-in fax, copy and scan functions as well, they make a logical choice in such circumstances.


Ultimately though, every SMB's needs are different, and it is up you to determine the best fit at the most reasonable cost.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 28, 2009 1:32 PM Cheap Stickers Cheap Stickers  says:

Nice Tips Thanks For Sharing it. its really useful tips and helpful for me.

Cheap Stickers

Oct 29, 2009 8:55 AM answermeaquestion answermeaquestion  says:

Cheap Stickers, before you run out and buy a LaserJet, consider a Continuous Ink Supply System (CISS) to dramatically reduce your inkjet cost.

If you are a small to very large business doing a lot of color printing. Using a multifunctional inkjet printer with a CISS will reduce your color printing costs dramatically. High quality printing is not just for the "art department."

The Cost of Inkjet Printers

Most inkjet printers are 'consumer grade' quality products, but there are networkable 'business class' inkjet printers and all-in-ones that are designed for product life cycles exceeding 500,000 pages. For example, HP has produced the OfficeJet 3000. Newer models like the HP OfficeJet 8500 series utilize pigment inks that mimic toner durability and water/smudge resistance. These machines typically offer cost-per-page results much lower than laser printers.

Note: 'Business class' Continuous Ink Supply Systems (CISS) from Adaptive Ink (www.adaptiveink.com) can provide additional dramatic savings on color printing (even lower than monochrome lasers). They have CISSs with ink tanks up to 720ml that will provide nearly 40,000 pages of color printing for less than a penny per page.

Quality of Printouts

The latest generation of pigment inks resolves the smudging issue and can easily match the sharp-text quality of a 1200dpi laser printer even on plain paper. I've seen demonstrations where color inkjet pages were put in a tube of water and they did not smear. On high-quality paper, the print quality is definitely in favor of inkjets. Lasers produce acceptable photo quality output, but they do not approach the photo quality of the best inkjet photo printers or business inkjets.

Consider Color Laser

Consider the high power requirements of laser printers, the high price of toner cartridges, fusers, image drums, etc.-laser printers have multiple consumables that need periodic replacement. Most business class inkjets require periodic replacement of reasonably price print heads and the per-page cost of the ink is much lower than that of toner.

Unless a business is printing tens of thousands of copies of a static document, in-house business inkjets will produce professional offset print quality results at a lower cost. This does not even take into consideration the time and expense of working with the print shop.

Laser printing has been the 'accepted' technology utilized by business for years. Speed, reliability, features, and print quality were the likely reasons laser printers and office machines dominate the office environment. But, the current generation of inkjet printers provides the performance of laser printers while being dramatically lower-priced. Adaptive Ink has a Continuous Ink Supply System (CISS) that solves the ink cost issue that is considered to be the primary reason inkjets are not suitable for high volume office printing.

Jan 15, 2010 9:24 AM Yvette Relucio Yvette Relucio  says:

2.)     Whether it be faxing, scanning, copying or printing documents, I think the most logical choice is to invest in good quality technology.  It is indeed a huge concept nowadays, almost a necessity to have those multifunctional machines that magically performs all in one utility in one click of a button.  The same concept with this company from San Diego who offers a wide array of services to simplify you documenting needs.electronic document imaging

Aug 9, 2010 11:44 AM web faxing web faxing  says: in response to Cheap Stickers

You're right. It's really full of information.

I like what he talks about faxing. I'm at least educated now about. Unlike before I really don't know about it. It's just sad that I'm now using web faxing. I'm already comfortable using it already.


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