In today’s world of multifunction printers, the words “copier” and “printer” are often used interchangeably, but don’t get fooled…they are not the same thing. We want to take a moment to break it down for you in order to make it easier to decide which is a better fit for your business.

What’s the difference?

So what’s the difference between a copier and a printer? Here’s a quick explanation. 

Simply put, a printer takes an electronic text file or picture file from a device such as a computer, smartphone or tablet and sets that information on paper. 

Printers vary in size, speed, sophistication and cost. In general, more expensive printers are used for more frequent printing or high-resolution color printing.

These days, you may see printers, with no other functionality besides printing, in home settings, school computer labs, classrooms, libraries and business offices. Whether they are laser or inkjets, all they do is print.

A copier, also called a photocopier, literally copies information from original documents, pictures, graphics and so on and produces exact duplicates. Copiers, though, as single-function devices, once commonly seen are becoming rare creatures, largely being replaced by multifunction machines.  

Copiers and printers: Loose terminology 

Nowadays, seen often in the business office, computer labs and homes are (multi-function printers) MFPs. They are often loosely called “copiers” or “printers” because they copy and print, however, they can do so much more. MFPs can scan and fax as well, making them a no brainer for many offices in today’s market.

The reason multi-function printers are so popular is obviously because they consolidate what used to be four different devices — copiers, printers, fax machines and scanners — into one neat package that can do everything. 

This means less space, less maintenance and fewer consumables to keep track of and to stock.  Although the purchase price for an all-in-one printer may exceed that of a traditional printer, the overall cost typically remains less than purchasing multiple machines. Therefore, you can benefit from increased functionality without paying for each feature. This is why copiers and printers, to a lesser extent, as standalone devices are gradually going the way of the dinosaur.