Multifunction Printers vs. Standard Copiers: What’s the Difference?

Copier vs. MFP Blog Image

Aug 30, 2023

Ever been caught in the whirlwind of trying to keep up with the constant influx of new technology trends? And let's not even get started on the fancy names they give to products, even if they've been around forever. Are the tech wizards trying to play a game of confusion with us?

The good ol' office copier—remember when that was a thing? Now, we're supposed to wrap our heads around the term "multifunction printers" or MFPs... or maybe just printers?

With the ever-evolving dynamics of our workplace, it's no wonder many of us are left wondering:

"What's the real deal between an Office Copier and a Multifunction Printer?"

With so many options on the market, selecting the right printer or copier equipment is incredibly important. There are several key factors to consider when selecting the best option for your team, including size, speed, functionality, and, of course, price. 

Do you need a multifunction printer (MFP) or a copier?

In many cases, copiers and multifunction printers will do many of the same tasks—print, copy, scan, and sometimes even fax. The two options can be differentiated by specs like size, functionality, and price.

To decide which is the best option for your office, you’ll first need to know what kind of workload your office will put on document imaging equipment. Start with this tool to help you calculate your annual printing expenses. Keep in mind the “hidden costs” of doing business, including upfront costs, downtime costs, and labor costs. 

You might also ask:

  • Do your employees primarily print to share or store documents?
  • How many employees will use image replicating tools like printers, scanners, and copiers?
  • Will employees in your organization be returning to the office full time, or will you be operating on a hybrid work from home schedule?

Once you have this information, you can decide what specifications from the categories below make the most sense to meet your company’s day-to-day needs.

Printer size

Many offices still have a bulky “copy room” filled with several devices. However, for some teams that don’t rely on high-quality or quantity printing, a multifunction printer can reduce the need for square footage or desk space. Available in an extensive range of different sizes, some MFPs are small enough to fit on a desktop—perfect for small offices or to maximize space. 

Similarly, standard copiers are also available in different sizes to fit your needs, but many will be larger than the typical multifunction printer because of their function. 

Print speed & frequency

If your employees are constantly frustrated with long lines at the copier, paper jams, or other issues, speed might be at the top of your “must-have” list for your new equipment. If your team needs to print a high volume of documents and fast, a standard copier may execute the job faster than an MFP. However, if you’re making a modest amount of copies regularly, an MFP and standard copier will perform relatively similarly in terms of speed.

Function and capabilities 

Some standard multifunction printers offer lower quality and fewer formatting options than copiers. However, some multifunction printers and copiers offer all-in-one functionality without sacrificing the quality of custom functions like multiple paper sizes and document finishing. 

If you need a device that genuinely does it all, you may want to consider investing in a business multifunction copier. These devices can scan, print, copy, email, and even protect your organization’s data with specialized security software. Multifunction copiers also allow you to streamline various tasks, eliminating the need for other office tools like fax machines, scanners, and more. 

Standard copiers do just that — make copies and print documents. However, technology has undoubtedly come a long way, allowing even primary copy machines to perform above their namesake and offer similar functionality. Some copiers may also be better for wide format or commercial laser printing. Both an MFP and a standard copier can print in either black and white or color, while some require ink and others toner. Ultimately, a standard copier is ideal for settings in which heavy-duty print jobs are a regular occurrence. 

Printer price 

Price ultimately varies by size and functionality. If your office can rely on a standard printer or typical multifunctional printer, they tend to be the most economical purchases. However, multifunction copiers and other copiers that allow for bulk, high quality, high quantity, or specialty printing will cost more upfront. While a multifunction device may seem like a significant investment, in some cases, it will save valuable space and provide the convenience that multiple machines cannot. 

Investments in different devices can also pay off over time. For example, larger or more robust copiers—like commercial laser copiers—might require more space and financial investment. But, at the same time, they can make it possible for businesses that rely on high quality or high volume printing to keep operations and expenses for document production in-house. 

Consider a managed print service to help

Still undecided? Hiring the right experts can help demystify the buying process. However, even after selecting and purchasing office equipment, regular maintenance and updates can be a full-time job in and of itself. This is where a managed print service can help. 

Essentially, a managed print service program optimizes and monitors your company’s technology, all while helping you make the most of your print spend. They can also help you answer important questions like whether or not you should lease or buy a copier, or how you can reduce your company’s carbon footprint. In addition, choosing a managed print service can help you optimize workflow, improve security and even keep print costs down. This is also a great option if you don’t have the personnel to handle maintenance or print operations.

Managed print services can not only resolve IT issues and repairs but can also prevent issues from affecting your business and bottom line. Milner can ensure security and proper storage, implement mobile printing options, and consolidate your equipment needs. 

Whether you’re ready to move forward with the equipment you need or have more questions about our services, Milner can help. For over three decades, we’ve been regarded as a dealer of excellence by industry-leading manufacturers, offering you best-in-class service and products. Contact us today.