Buying your own printer for your classroom is essential. Having to share a breakroom printer or copy machine can be frustrating, especially during a busy lunch hour! With so many different printer options available, it’s hard to know which model will suit the needs of your students and budget. To get started, begin by answering a few basic questions:
- How frequently do I need to print?
- How much do I want to spend on ink?
- Is printing in color a priority?
- Do I need a scanner or copier built into the printer?
- Do I need to print wirelessly?
Once you have laid out your expectations, you can determine which printers match those requirements. In this guide, we have selected a handful of the best printers for a variety of classroom types and teaching styles, and help you find one that is just right for you and your students.
Black and White Prints
Teachers that print black and white documents regularly should seriously consider a monochrome laser printer. With a high volume print capacity and low operating cost, they are an ideal choice for a paper heavy classroom. Brother’s HL-2300D is a compact, inexpensive option that prints fast (up to 27 pages per minute!). Automatic duplexing lets you easily print two-sided study guides for that upcoming economics final. At a price of just $94.90* on Amazon, it’s a decent price too.
Brother offers two cartridge options for the Brother HL-L2300D, the TN630 standard yield and the TN660 high yield toner. High yield toner cartridges are better for the frequent user because they hold more ink. The standard yield TN630, for example is priced at $30.49* and prints around 1,200 pages. It’s high yield counterpart, the TN660 cartridge is just $15 dollars more and prints approximately 2,600 pages. The DR360 drum unit is a separate consumable for this machine, and should generally be replaced after the use of 3 or 4 toners. At $81.19, it is worth considering when you are factoring in the total cost of operating the printer.
LD brand compatible replacement cartridges are an affordable alternative to the Brother brand; they offer the same standard of quality as an original Brother cartridge, for a fraction of the price. LD sells their compatible TN660 for $14.99 and the DR360 drum for $26.99!
Budget Friendly All-in-One
Keeping down supply costs is important for any teacher and a budget friendly printer can certainly help. Brother recently introduced their Invkestment line of color inkjet printers, a series that makes low cost printing at a priority. The MFC-J985DW is the least expensive option at $179.99, featuring a set of super high-yield cartridges that offer a generous page yield. It also includes copy, scan and fax features, perfect making a quick copy in between class periods.
The Brother MFC-J985DW printer uses four super high yield LC20E ink cartridges, with the black cartridge offering 2,400 pages per cartridge and each color cartridge offering 1,200 pages apiece. Brother sells the black cartridge for $23.49 and $14.99 per color. LD brand compatible cartridges are a great deal cheaper, at $8.49 for the black and $7.49 for each color.
Digital photography classes will want a high quality photo printer in-house, and the Canon Pixma iP8720 is a great entry-level option. Featuring a 6-color ink system, the printer goes for $214.99 on Amazon. Students will be able to print on a range of media sizes, including 13” x 19” borderless photos, and you’ll have your own high end photo printing lab right in your classroom.
For classes that print photos sporadically, you’ll be better off buying a lower priced color inkjet machine (see the “budget friendly all-in-one” option above).
The Canon PIXMA iP8720 printer uses 6 ink cartridges, which are sold in both a standard and high yield size. Canon sells the PGI-250XL high yield black ink cartridge for $24.99, at a yield of 500 pages. The CLI-251XL color cartridges are sold in five different colors, black, cyan, magenta and yellow, offering a yield of 660 pages per cartridge at $19.99. You will need two different black cartridges to operate the machine, the PGI-250 cartridge is pigment based for text printing, while the CL-251 option is dye-based ink and formulated for photo prints. LD brand compatible Canon PGI-250XL and CLI-251XL cartridges are just $6.49 each!
Frequent Color Prints
If your classroom prints in color but doesn’t print photos, color laser printers are the smarter buy. Inexpensive color inkjet printer are an enticing choice at first glance, but you’ll probably end up spending more replacing one set of ink cartridges than the initial cost of the machine. Color laser printers cost more upfront, but cartridge replacement will be far less frequent due to a higher toner capacity. Brother’s HL-8350CDW printer is a well-respected machine that offers easy to use wireless features and a handy secure function lock that can put a limit on your students’ page usage. A front access USB slot lets you print directly from any flash drive and a 250-sheet paper capacity tray can adjust for both letter and legal size pages. Amazon is currently offering the machine for $199.99.
The Brother HL-8350CDW printer requires four individual color toner cartridges: black, cyan, magenta and yellow. Although the standard TN-331 series is available, you’ll get more overall value going with the TN-336 high yield option. Brother sells the black toner for $56.69, offering a yield of 4,000 pages and each color for $100.19 at 3,500 pages per cartridge. Like the previously mentioned Brother machine, this printer also includes a separate drum unit that will need to be replaced after the use of 3 or 4 toners. The Brother brand DR-331CL drum unit goes for $179.99. LD brand compatible toner cartridges are considerably cheaper, at $31.99 apiece.
Heavy Duty Workhorse
For teachers that print multiple pages every day, a reliable heavy-duty machine is worth considering. HP’s Color Laserjet Enterprise M553dn is a nice choice, capable of printing high volume quality color pages at fast speeds. The printer itself is expensive (currently $839.30 on Amazon), but it makes up for it with its cartridge yield. The printer uses four toner cartridges, sold as both a standard and high yield, with high yield black cartridge offering a yield of 12,500 pages and each color cartridge offering 9,500 pages apiece. An original HP 508X goes for $221.99 at Staples and each color goes for $306.99. If you go with LD brand compatible replacement cartridges, the savings are even greater. The high yield black LD compatible cartridge is just $88.99 and each color is only $93.99. LD also sells a 4 pack of compatible toners for $354.96.
Finding the perfect printer for your classroom takes a bit of research, but once you have your needs mapped out and know what to look for, you can easily find the best printing solution for your class. To stay within budget, be sure to factor in the price of replacement cartridges into your decision. Happy hunting!
*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices and printer prices effective as of June 28, 2017 on www.LDProducts.com, Amazon and Staples. OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.