Copier Vs. Multifunction Printer


In today's digital, networked world, copiers have taken on multiple document functions, making them virtually indistinguishable from multifunction printers. While standalone copy machines still exist, today's copiers increasingly also can print, scan and/or fax. As a result, networked copiers and multifunction printers are essentially the same from the user's perspective, although there are a few differences for businesses to consider when purchasing one of these devices.

Copier Function

  • A standalone copier performs a single function: duplicating documents. The user places a document on the platen glass, closes the lid, sets the specifications for the copies and presses the "Copy" button. Voila: Out come the copies.

    Now that copiers run on digital technology, they can be connected to a computer network. Once networked, the copier is no longer strictly a walk-up device; it becomes accessible for users to print documents from their computers, scan paper files to store electronically and to send faxes.

Multifunction Printer Function

  • A multifunction printer also performs several jobs, including some combination of copying, printing, faxing and scanning. To print, users send files from their computers to the printer, which produces a paper version of the document. To copy, fax or scan using a multifunction printer, users walk up to the device and use it as they would a networked copier.

Copier Features

  • Copier-based devices are well-suited to large volumes of document production and heavy use. Most copiers also offer document finishing features, such as sorting and binding, that are typically unavailable or less robust on printer-based multifunction devices. Digital copiers typically have a relatively high up-front purchase cost but a relatively low ongoing support cost if used regularly to keep them running well.

Multifunction Printer Features

  • Multifunction printers seem to run reliably even when used infrequently or for relatively low output volumes. On the flip side, multifunction printers tend to work slower than copier-based devices, producing fewer pages per minute.Multifunction printers have a relatively low initial purchase cost, but the price of supplies and ongoing maintenance tend to be higher than for copier-based machines.


  • Both types of document-management devices---digital copier and multifunction printer---can save space, expense and frustration, compared with operating and maintaining multiple devices. Keep in mind that the best document equipment solution is the one that meets the needs of your business. Before purchasing either type, thoroughly understand your company's document needs and decide which technology suits them best. Also be sure to carefully compare the costs---not just the upfront purchase price, but also the overall cost over the life of the device or the course of your lease of the equipment.

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