If you're in the market for a new printer, or recently purchased one for your office, you may have spent hours and hours researching and comparing printer specs. And because you want a machine that will handle your specific workload, you probably spent most of that time researching the "duty cycle" of various laser printers.
The good news is that you are the kind of person who wants to make the best, most informed purchase for your business. The bad news is that the criteria you are using is wrong — duty cycle is useless.
Calculating duty cycle is a process printer manufacturers go through to stress the printer to the point of failure. You're not meant to run the machine at this level for long periods, the same way you're not meant to drive your car at 7,000 RPMs all the way to work. It’s an upper-limit print volume that’s generally much higher than the amount you will actually print.
The duty cycle doesn’t take into account the practical limitations of a particular machine — the print speed, paper tray capacity, toner or ink capacity, and memory. It only measures the total amount of work the non-replaceable components can withstand.
In order to ensure the best printer fit for your office, you want to choose a machine based on your business' monthly print volume. If you don't know that number, you can make a safe guesstimate that the average office worker prints 35-50 pages per day. You can use this number as a good starting point if you don't have the tools you need to get a more accurate monthly print volume.
Once you're armed with your monthly print volume data, you can consider that in relation to the number of pages that a printer’s toner cartridge is supposed to handle. You can then determine how frequently you would have to replace toner at your monthly print rate.
Your company's monthly print volume is the most important number you need when choosing your next printer. Any qualified and experienced dealer will be able to use this number to match you to the right equipment for your office. Now that you know the truth, you can say goodbye to duty cycle forever.