What is the Difference Between a Copier and an MFP?

November 29, 2023

3 min read

The evolution of office technology has been nothing short of fascinating. Gone are the days when copiers just copied and printers just printed. Today, both devices offer a range of functionalities designed to streamline operations and boost productivity. But how do you distinguish between the two? Let’s dive in to understand the value proposition offered by each.


A Story of Convergence and Competition

In earlier years, copiers had a specific role: duplicating documents. Market leaders like Canon, Xerox, Konica Minolta, and Sharp were the go-to choices for efficient and high-quality copying solutions. However, standalone fax machines, scanners, and printers were also integral parts of office ecosystems.

With technological advancements, multifunction printers (MFPs) entered the arena. Brands like HP and Brother spearheaded this shift, offering devices that could print, scan, fax, and yes, copy. The introduction of MFPs could have rendered traditional copiers obsolete, but that’s far from what happened.


The Copier’s Response: Efficiency at Scale

Rather than becoming extinct, copiers adapted. Major brands integrated scanning and faxing functionalities into their copiers, creating multifunctional devices in their own right. Importantly, copier manufacturers began to focus on lowering the cost-per-print, providing an economical alternative for businesses with high-volume printing needs. This is especially noticeable when it comes to color devices. We find that on average, a larger floor-standing A3 device (like the Canon, Konica Minolta, etc) will run about 1/2 to 1/2 the cost per print as a standard desktop unit.


The MFP’s Strategy: Lower Upfront Costs

While copiers were winning on the cost-per-print front, MFP manufacturers took a different approach. They offered devices at a more accessible initial price point. This move attracted businesses with lower volume requirements or those that preferred a lower upfront investment. We find most desktop MFPs are 1/2 to 1/3 of the cost when compared to their larger counterparts as it pertains to initial cost.


The Business Decision: Cost-per-Print vs. Initial Investment

A study by Keypoint Intelligence reveals that 40% of businesses consider initial costs as a significant factor in their purchasing decision, whereas 35% focus on long-term operational costs. Therefore, the decision between a copier and an MFP often comes down to a business’s specific needs and budget considerations.

While the term ‘copier’ persists in colloquial language, often synonymous with MFPs, the truth is that they have become two sides of the same coin. Both have multiple functionalities, but they cater to different business needs. MFPs generally offer a lower initial investment, while copiers provide a lower cost-per-print over the device’s lifespan.


Novatech Can Help You Determine the Best Technology for Your Company

When answering the question about the difference between a copier and an MFP, most of the answer is found in the history of the devices and how they came to market. Today, both copiers and MFPs can print, copy, scan, and fax. Copiers will normally do the larger paper sizes and MFPs will normally have a little faster print speed. Novatech can help you compare and evaluate whether a copier or an MFP makes more sense for your unique needs.

In the holistic technology environment that Novatech manages, it is not about one being better than the other; it’s about what aligns best with your unique business requirements. From Managed IT Services to Cybersecurity and Unified Communications, Novatech empowers businesses to make informed technology choices.

To explore which device—copier or MFP—would best suit your business needs, contact Novatech’s expert team today!

Written By: Editorial Team

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