Duplex Printing Explained

An in-depth explanation of everything you need to know about Duplex Printing

What exactly is duplex printing?

The term may sound complex, but it is actually very simple. Duplex printing is basically the process of printing on both sides of the paper. It's a standard feature on most office printers and multifunction printers (MFPs).

Why is it called duplex printing?

Home and low-to-medium volume office printers are equipped with a duplexing unit. This component is responsible for reversing a sheet of paper after the first side has printed. On the other hand, MFPs that support duplex scanning and printing have a reversing automatic document feeder (RADF).

Higher-volume printers are entirely different. Some of them may have two print engines in a single piece of equipment. This allows for duplex printing to occur in one go as opposed to a two-step process.

History of duplex printing

It was back in 2009 when the idea of duplex printing began to materialise. The printer industry has made a voluntary commitment to help in the campaign to save energy and other resources (Energy-Related Products Directive).

A major concern about the environment and the economy is what led to the concept of duplex printing.

Benefits of duplex printing

Duplex printing has a lot of benefits which mostly revolve around the environment and the economy.

The most notable of these benefits is the reduced amount of paper used in printing, resulting in lower printing costs. Less paper used also means a lower carbon footprint for your business, an important benefit in today's society.

Duplex printing saves money (lots of it)

The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper annually. We don't need to do the maths to know that a vast amount of money is spent on paper. On top of that, report was based on only a single office worker's usage.

The bottom line is, duplex printing can cut paper expenditure in half.

It conserves water supply

Did you know that to produce around 6,000,000 sheets of paper, roughly 590,000 gallons of water is needed? The campaign to save water has always been a hot topic, and duplex printing is a great way to start contributing.

Double-sided printing saves trees

Going back to the report from the Environmental Protection Agency, over 40% of wood pulps go towards the production of paper every year. Because of duplex printing, half of those trees would be preserved.

Reduces waste

Different chemicals are also used in paper manufacturing. Dyes, inks, bleach, and sizing -- all of these chemicals are harmful to the environment. When released into water supplies and nearby land, they pose a threat Mother Nature who's already suffering.

It saves energy

By printing on both sides of a sheet of paper, you reduce paper consumption by 50%. Along with that, the energy used to manufacture paper is also cut in half. Ultimately, the carbon dioxide that's generated during the process of making the paper is also significantly reduced.

Manual and Automatic duplex printing

Which is better?

Are all printers capable of duplex printing? The answer is yes.

But for a more accurate answer, not all printers can do it automatically. Not all printers are equipped with the component to do double-sided printing by themselves. So if your printer doesn't have this feature, you'd have to do it on your own.

It is a simple process especially if you're just printing personal documents. However, it becomes a tedious process if you're in a business environment. It can be tiring to print hundreds or even thousands of documents manually, all while making sure you're doing it correctly.

Manual duplex printing is done in two ways:

Sheet-by-sheet method

This is mostly applicable if you only have around 3 to 7 pages that you need to print. You load a single sheet of paper and print the first page. Once done, put the paper back into the tray in the correct orientation then print the next page. Rinse and repeat.

Bulk method

The second method is a bit complex since it involves a lot of papers. Assuming you already know how to feed the papers correctly, here are the steps:

  • Create a second copy of the document so you'll have two of them.
  • Delete page 2 in the first document and delete page 1 in the second document. You now have two documents with only one page each.
  • Print the side that you want to finish first (front or back).
  • Once all the fronts (or backs) are printed, just reload the papers to print the opposite side.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Tip: If your goal, for example, is to have 500 pages printed front and back. Always start by printing only the first 5 (front or back). Once you're sure that everything is setup correctly, you can proceed with printing the rest of them. The last thing you want is 500 pages of documents printed incorrectly.

Automatic duplex printing

This is simply the opposite of the manual variation. When you have a printer that can auto duplex, all you have to do is feed the papers, and you're good to go. It's advantageous in a way that you don't have to monitor everything. Thus, you have more time to focus on other tasks.

So is automatic duplex printing better than its manual counterpart? Not necessarily. It depends on what you're doing and where you're doing it (home, office, or business). Of course, it also depends on the printer that you're using whether or not it can do automatic duplexing.

So how do you know if your printer is capable of automatic duplex printing? If you're familiar with the model number of your printer, it's pretty easy to tell. Take a RICOH SP C840DN Color Laser Printer as an example. Notice the letter D in its model name?

As you might have guessed, it stands for duplex printing. Most manufacturers follow the same rule in naming their printers so you shouldn't have a hard time. If you don't know what the model number is, it's best to check the specs sheet or contact the company where you got the printer from.

A few reminders

  • Preview before you print. Always. Most of the time, busy employees are guilty of not previewing the document before printing. A few minutes of final checking will prevent you from having to print another copy. Check for spelling errors, align the margins correctly, and change the font size if needed.
  • Not all paper is the same. Papers vary in sizes, but it's also worth noting that not all papers are like-sided. That means that the other side of a paper may have a different finish. It's important to be aware of this especially in duplex printing because it might affect the finished product.
  • Print in draft mode. Draft mode is an option found in your printer's advanced settings menu. This mode uses up to 50% less ink and is ideal for printing documents that aren't presentation-worthy like emails or disposable office memos.
  • Use a high-quality paper. Since you'll be printing on both sides, the paper should be thick enough to handle the amount of ink coverage. If not, a bleed-through can happen which means you'll have to redo everything -- wasting ink and paper in the process.
  • Print in black and white or grayscale. If a document doesn't require color graphics, use your printer's grayscale settings. Doing so will draw ink only from your black cartridge. That means that you will not use unnecessary ink from your color cartridges.

Request A Callback & Reduce Your Printing Costs!

Office Printers/Copiers

Set up your business for success with the best office printers and copiers. These modern machines pack every functionality every workplace needs for higher productivity - from printing and copying at blazing speeds, scanning documents, to handling fax jobs and more.

View All

Compact Colour Printers

Are you looking to print your business materials but don’t have the space for a high-end floor-standing printer? A compact printer might be the best solution.

View All

A3 Colour Printers

A4 printing may suffice for many businesses. But if your company wants to print reports and marketing materials in a slightly larger size an A3 printer and copier will give you just what you need.

View All

Black & White (Mono) Printers

Monochrome or black and white printers are still the workhorse of choice for many businesses and offices! Print elegant black and white documents. Cut through printing jobs in half the time. All the while keeping your costs low.

View All