Whitepaper on Multi-Function Printers (MFP): University of Houston - University of Houston
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Multi-Function Printers (MFP)

With many options and considerations in purchasing, leasing, or renting copiers, printers, scanners, and fax machines, making a decision can be a daunting task. Below is a broad list of considerations that will, hopefully, help make the decision process easier.

What Do I Need?

Consolidation of the functions of several output devices into one Multi-Function Printer (MFP) has several advantages: better document management, network access, reduced energy consumption, reduced inventory and cost of consumables, reduced physical footprint, and reduced purchase cost.

Better Document Management

Most MFPs have the ability to create PDF files. Creating PDFs immediately from the original can be a big step in moving toward the "paperless" office.

Network Access

MFP users can harness the copier capabilities via the network. Users making copies, sending faxes, etc. can e-mail copies from the MFP. Also, some MFPs have an optional hard drive, allowing for storage of documents to be accessed via the network.

Reduced Energy Consumption

Energy consumption is something that should be considered when a group is purchasing new equipment. Although the electric bill is paid further up the chain, consider that the more money the University has to pay for electricity, the less money there is for your college or department level budgets.

When thinking about energy consumption, one must consider two types of energy: direct and indirect. Direct energy consumption is how much is being consumed by equipment. An MFP device will consume less electricity than the number of individual devices needed to perform the same functions.

Indirect energy consumption occurs through the need for additional use of ventilation and air conditioning systems. All electronic devices generate waste heat, requiring the use of more energy to keep a space comfortable for people at work.

Reduced Inventory and Cost of Consumables

Using an MFP reduces the number of different types of toner/ink cartridges needed, and can reduce the types of paper needed (for those still using a thermal fax machine). When groups are reliant on fewer types of consumables, and several groups are using the same types, costs decrease on volume.

Reduced Physical Footprint

Instead of dedicating space to separate copier, fax, and printer devices, an MFP is no larger than the biggest device needed.

Reduced Purchase Cost

There are two possible occurrences. The immediate example is the purchase of multiple machines of the same make and model in a single purchase. The second instance is slightly longer term. If some standardization is achieved campus-wide, the University can make a single purchase of lots far bigger than individual groups or departments, allowing the University to purchase at an even better price point.

Purchase, Lease, or Rent?

Occasionally, purchasing is not an option because of the size and price of the unit in question. Generally speaking, the most cost effective, long-term strategy is to purchase, followed by leasing, with renting being the least effective.

Often leases are taken because of the inaccurate belief that a lease is the only way to get a comprehensive service agreement. Companies that sell an MFP also sell service agreements. The cost of renting is usually higher for the flexibility of going month-to-month, instead of being locked into a contract for a year (or more).

Using DIR

The State of Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) has negotiated deals covering 31 different printer equipment manufacturers, including MFPs and consumables. For more information, visit:


In general, a member of DIR's GoDIRect program will give you the best price. However, in some instances it possible to purchase in large enough quantities to get a better unit price be going through a regular (non-DIR) sales representative.

Need More Information?

Contact the UIT Sustainability Project Manager: Mike Nagy at mnagy@uh.edu