Is A Copier Or Printer Based Multifunction Office System Better

If you are in the market for a business class departmental copier or printing system for your office you will be faced with a wealth of choices and some of those will be copier based while others will be printer based. The question comes down to which is better for your needs.

Several years ago the world of copiers and printers began to collide when copier became connected to office networks and were able to print directly from users personal computers. Now there are products that compete directly with each other that come from manufacturers that began on either the copier side or printer side of output technology.

Companies such as Canon, Ricoh, Xerox and Konica Minolta started as copier companies and now have copier based multifunctional devices. Hewlett Packard and Lexmark are the primary companies competing that came from the printer side of the ledger.

Copier And Printer Based Characteristics

What will become clear when viewing products in the market space of 50-page per minute devices is you will be visually able to determine where the manufacturers’ technology platform came from. Copier based technology devices will tend to be larger and often will have a more one piece appearance with the paper drawers located beneath an engine section.

The automatic document handler on many copier based devices is smoothly integrated with the rest of system. Some copier based systems in this speed range come with the main unit as a single frame without the need to add paper capacity unless extra paper supply is needed. Up to four paper drawers and a multi-sheet bypass may be standard for paper loading.

Many printer-based multifunction printer/copier will look very much like their printer only models with a document scanner mounted on a stand integrated with the rest of the printer. Often there will be a gap between the printer section and scanner section where printed pages will exit. Some copier based machines mimic this look also to save space, but are designed differently under the covers. The paper drawers of a printer based system often are two primary drawers that come standard with additional drawers that can be added or in some cases a cabinet that the top section of the device can sit on.

Differences Between The Two MFP Platforms

Multifunctional devices from copier companies will generally be designed like a copier from a mechanical standpoint. The engine, drum, developer and rollers are designed to be serviced and replaced by the selling companies’ service technicians. Users have very limited capabilities to do much beyond clearing paper jams and adding toner.

This makes the service department capabilities of your supplier very important. From an operational standpoint the system will perform many of the same functions of the printer based system in general office printing, faxing and even scanning over the network.

Printer based multifunctional devices will be designed like their printer only counterparts and often use the same toner, drum and maintenance units. Many of the commonly used consumables are user replaceable. Printer based devices are also generally have a smaller footprint than copier based devices. Service contracts are available for printer based systems, but some items that would generate a service call on a copier based system, such as the need to replace a drum, can be done by the user on a printer based system.

Decision Factors

For the most part, functionality can be added that will enable either system to perform similar functions. There are some factors that may cause you to go one way or the other.

Space constraints may push you towards the printer based system. Heavy walk up copier use by making copies of hardcopy documents may push someone towards a copier based system because copying was the original design point.

If you need something special such as the ability to print with magnetic ink, then the printer based system will be your solution as most copier based machines in the 50 page per minute speed range do not offer that option. There will be operational cost differences between the two systems when it comes to toner, drums etc. compared to a service contract that includes supplies and that should be calculated before making a final decision.

Make sure that you are dealing with a supplier that is reliable, has a good service department and will not drop your product line. Make sure that the system you are acquiring is not a relabeling of another manufacturers product that could be phased out if they bring out a device of their own design.