What is the difference between a photocopier and a printer?

What is the difference between a photocopier and a printer?

Absolutely! While both the standard office copier and multifunction printer are staples of daily office life, the terms to describe each device are not interchangeable. Sure, both are available as part of a Managed Print program, they can produce paper copies quickly and each requires toner. But that’s where the similarities end.

Difference Between Photocopy Machine vs. Printer

A photocopy machine makes duplicate copies of a physical document without being connected to a computer network. A printer, on the other hand, allows a user to send documents from a computer network to be printed on the device.

Most printers also have a physical copier function, and multifunction printers have numerous additional capabilities which we’ll outline below. Dig deeper into each of the following considerations to determine whether a photocopier or printer is best for your organization.

  • Each Serves Different Functions
  • Copiers are Slightly Faster Than Printers
  • Both Can Be User Friendly
  • Printers are More Versatile
  • Multifunction Printers Cost More Than Copiers
  • Copiers Generally Take Up More Space

1. Each Serves Different Functions

While a standard photocopying device can do one thing (make copies), a multifunction printer — sometimes referred to as an MFP — lives up to its name. An MFP has the ability to securely copy, print, scan and fax. Some devices even feature hole punching and stapling.

Older copiers may come with the ability to print in color or only black and white. With an MFP, it’s commonplace to have one machine to handle both modes. Depending on the unit, both can have the capability to produce high quality printed materials when desired.

2. Copiers Are Slightly Faster Than Printers

Copiers sometimes print faster than multifunction printers, though you’ll be hard-pressed to notice a difference with short runs. If you’re making a thousand copies of one document, the copier may edge out the multifunction device when it comes to speed. But for most people who need small amounts of copies or even a couple dozen when they print, the time difference is negligible.

3. Both Can Be User Friendly

When they first came out, some multifunction printers were cumbersome and difficult to use when switching between various modes. Over the years, MFPs have become much more intuitive. Copiers have a variety of buttons and settings that can turn any simple copy into a daunting task. Modern multifunction printers work with you, not against you, and are built with the user experience in mind; a copy can be made with the press of a button.

4. Printers Are More Versatile

Because of the variety of tasks, a multifunction printer can handle, people have increasingly steered away from standard copiers. Many office workers rely on MFPs to scan printed documents and email them right to their inboxes, so they have digital PDF versions to keep on file. Copiers are better suited for long, heavy-duty print jobs where a large number of copies are needed at a time.

Today, however, finding a machine that truly only does make copies — not print, scan, email, etc. — is very difficult. With the move toward digital documentation, green initiatives and efforts to minimize paper use (and associated costs), the multifunction printer is becoming the norm.

5. Multifunction Printers Cost More Than Copiers

The price difference between a black-and-white copier and a multifunction printer (sometimes called a printer copier) can easily be thousands of dollars because the multifunction devices offer superior functionality. There are price differences within each of these categories, too. Some of the best office printers aren’t necessarily the most expensive, though, and total cost of ownership should be considered.

Whichever you choose, you’ll likely have the option to purchase it outright or lease it to help even out your payments over time. With a multifunction printer, the biggest price difference is based on whether the printer is a color inkjet or color laser printer — with inkjet printers being more expensive to operate per sheet due to the high cost of inkjet printer cartridges.

6. Copiers Are Usually Larger

Like most popular technology, multifunction devices have shrunk in size as their adoption has grown. While the copier is typically thought of as a bulky machine and needing its own room (hence the phrase “copy room”), multifunction laser printers are sometimes small enough to fit on desks and light enough that one person can move them. With either, however, the devices grow depending on the amount of paper capacity you want.

Which is Best for My Business: Copier vs. Printer?

Once you understand how multifunction printers and standard copiers differ, you can better determine your needs.

In today’s marketplace where both the ability to duplicate hard copies and print from a computer is commonplace, a printer is most often the way to go. If you also need scanning, faxing, hole punching or other capabilities, a multifunction printer is ideal.

If you’re making thousands of duplicate copies a week, a standalone copier might be appropriate. However, if all those items being printed need specifications such as a high DPI and color depth with pinpoint precision and graphic quality, you should consider a more advanced production printer.

The best way to know whether you should invest in a printer or copier for your business is to work with an expert. Reach out to the Gordon Flesch Company today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you assess your print environment and work with you to determine which options are best. We’ll also help you determine whether a Managed Print solution makes sense for your company.

Back to Top
Product has been added to your cart