As a student, printing is likely to be a crucial part of your university experience. The educational side of it, at any rate. Especially if you’re avoiding campus just now, either due to the pandemic or just simply because you prefer your bed to the lecture hall.
As you move through uni, your work will take on an ever increasing importance – so you will need to make sure you've got a reliable and economical printing set-up to get your assignments and dissertation in on time and without unnecessary expense.
But we all know students aren't wandering around with wads of cash in their pocket, so how best to maximise your budget when printing for uni? Here's a few tips.
Buy a cheap but effective printer
While it may be tempting if you're short of cash to buy a mega-cheap printer, remember, 'most' cheap printers come with high running costs.
High running costs don't have to be a problem if you print rarely but, as a student, you'll likely be doing a fair bit. The key, then, is to do a little research.
Just work out what you really need – why not go for a capable but basic model, that doesn't have loads of added extras that you don't need? Just make sure you check out the price of the consumables before committing to purchase. You may get a nasty surprise the first time you run out of ink!
If you can, try to stay away from two-cartridge printers. These are often the cheapest to buy initially but then you're likely to spend the same again on your first set of replacement ink. They’re also quite uneconomical in use – the tri-colour cartridge may seem like a good idea, but ultimately once one of the colours has depleted, you’ll no longer be able to print with true colours and the cartridge becomes more or less redundant. You also only get a minimal amount of ink in the cartridges, due to there being three colours in one.
Consider if you need to print in colour at all. If not, a cheap mono laser printer might be the best bet. For between £50-£80, a small home laser printer could save you time due to their excellent print speed and money as they can excel on a cost per print basis, especially using third party consumables.
Although almost all modern printers feature a wi-fi connection, you might want to think about other features you might use such as automatic duplex (where the printer automatically prints on both sides of the paper), copier/scanner function and whether it has a rear or tray feed (or both).
Pool your resources
If you're living in halls or a shared house, think about pooling your resources together with your uni pals. You probably do this already with other stuff – food, for example, maybe energy, the internet. Why not do it with printing?
You could all club together and stick some cash in a pot to buy a printer you can all use. That will either save you plenty of cash or alternatively you could be able to afford a more expensive printer with better features this way. Similarly, with ink and toner for your shared printer, why not buy it in bulk to save more money and store it until required – ink can be used for years and you'll always have a supply at hand when you need it.
Check out your campus (Once restrictions are lifted!)
Most universities (well, all probably) will run dedicated printing suites where you can pop in anytime and print something off. If you're living close to campus, this is a really good idea as it will mean you don't have to buy a printer (just be prepared for a walk each time you need to print).
Universities usually offer printing cards which can be topped-up and often offer some free credit – typically a couple of quid. Still, every little helps.
And with services such as Google Cloud Print or Microsoft One Drive, you might even be able to send your document to print from the comfort of your bed before strolling along to pick it up.
Change your printer settings
Basic stuff really – only use colour when you need it. If it's a draft document, why not print in draft mode and save yourself some ink? Oh, and don't forget the power of duplex printing (if your printer has it?), where you can choose to print on both sides of your paper. These can all be selected from your printer properties/preferences, or from the print dialogue pop up box, and could reduce your print costs by more than half!
Looking to save a bit of cash on printing while at uni needn't take a lot of effort. You'll find you can easily save some money by doing simple things. That way, you'll have some much-needed cash to do what you want with – stick it in savings or pop in for a pint or two once the SU bar reopens!