Computers and Technology

Printers, Copiers, and Multifunction Printers (MFPs); What’s the Difference?

People often talk about printers, copiers, and multifunction printers (MFPs) without saying what makes each one different. 

But printers, copiers, and multifunction printers are all different in ways that affect how they are used in an office setting.

Whether you want to buy a new device for your office or use the ones already there, knowing how these devices are different can save you time and trouble in the future.

What Is A Printer?

A printer is a machine that can print text or images on paper, usually connected to a computer. 

Even though the definition is broad, it covers what a printer is and what it does. These tools make our lives much easier by letting us transfer text to paper much faster and more neatly than we could do with just a pen and paper.

Most stand-alone printers are small enough to fit on a desk and have smaller paper trays. 

Depending on the type, they use either ink or printer toner. Their only job is to print words or pictures on paper with ink or toner.

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What Is A Copier?

Like printers, copy machines that stand-alone only do one thing. On the other hand, a copier is defined as “a machine that makes exact copies of something.” 

A photocopier in an office is used to make copies of the pages that are put into it.

Copiers are the least used printing tool when compared to their other counterparts. A few times, a business would need a copier that can’t also print. 

In short, the word “copier” clearly refers to the machine that makes copies of papers, but it is now used to describe any printing machine that can also make copies.

What Is A Multifunction Printer (MFP)?

In modern offices, multifunction printer (MFPs) are often called photocopiers because they can also make copies. These more significant devices combine the printing and copying features of the two smaller ones into one complete unit.

Attachments like staplers, pamphlets and tri-fold attachments, hole-punching units, paper trays, scanners, and more can be added.

In business, people often use multifunction devices to print or do other similar tasks.

Difference Between Photocopy Machine VS Printer

A photocopier makes copies of a physical document without being connected to a computer network. 

On the other hand, a user can send documents to be printed on a printer from a computer network.

Most printers also have a copy function, and multifunction printers have many more features, which we’ll review below. 

Find out more about each of the following points to decide if your organisation needs a photocopier or a printer.

  • Each one serves a different purpose.

A standard photocopier can only make copies, but a multifunction printer, an MFP, can do more than one thing. 

An MFP can copy, print, scan, and fax safely. Some devices can even punch holes and staple things.

Older copiers may only be able to print in black and white or colour. With an MFP, it’s common for both modes to be handled by the same machine. 

Depending on the unit, both can print out high-quality documents when needed.

  • Copiers are a little faster than printers.

Some copiers can print faster than multifunction printers, but if you only need to print a few copies, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference. 

If you need to make a thousand copies of the same document, the copier may be faster than the multifunction device. 

But for most people who only need a few copies or a few dozen copies when they print, the difference in time isn’t that big.

  • Both Are User Friendly

Multifunction printers were once cumbersome and challenging to switch between modes when they first appeared. 

There has been a significant improvement in the intuitiveness of MFPs over the years. Many buttons and settings on copiers can complicate a simple copy. 

It is easy to make a copy with modern multifunction printers. They are built with the user experience; a copy takes only a few seconds.

  • Printers Are More Versatile

People are moving away from standard copiers more and more because multifunction printers can do so many things. 

Many office workers use multifunction printers (MFPs) to scan printed documents and email them directly to their inboxes so they can keep digital PDF copies on file. 

Copier machines work better for long, heavy-duty printing jobs where many copies must be made at once.

Today, though, it’s hard to find a machine that can only make copies and not also print, scan, email, etc. 

With the move toward digital documentation, green initiatives, and efforts to reduce paper use (and the costs that come with it), the multifunction printer is becoming the norm.

  • Most copiers are bigger.

As their use has grown, the size of devices that can do more than one thing has shrunk, just like most other popular technologies. 

People usually think of a copier as a big, heavy machine that needs its room (hence the term “copy room”).

However, some multifunction laser printers are small enough to fit on desks and light enough that one person can move them. 

With either, though, the size of the machine depends on how much paper you want to store.


We hope you enjoyed our article on printers and multifunction printers. We know that printers can be a confusing topic, so we’re glad we were able to shed some light on some of the differences! 

It can be hard to keep up with the constantly changing technology in the office, so this blog can help answer some of your questions!

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