Photocopier or Printer: What’s the Difference?

1800 Office SOlutions Team member - Elie Vigile
1800 Team

Photocopier or Printer

When it comes to choosing between a printer or copier, it is important to understand the differences between the two. A printer is a machine designed to print text, images, or other material onto paper. It uses ink, toner, or other supplies to produce documents, photos, and other materials.

A copier, on the other hand, is a device that copies images, documents, or other material onto paper. It uses a xerography process, wherein toner and heat are used to duplicate copies of a document. The main difference between the two is that a printer is designed to print text and produce hard copy, while a copier can reproduce many copies of documents. Modern copiers have become more than just machines for making copies. They are now known as multifunction printers (MFPs).

Photocopier or Printer

Difference Between Photocopy Machine vs. Printer

Transitioning to the difference between photocopier and printer, the two devices have an obvious physical difference in their form and function. A photocopier is a machine that makes copies of paper documents while a printer is designed to print digital documents from a network.

Printers use toner, ink cartridges, and a laser to print text and images onto paper. They come in a variety of sizes, from small inkjet printers to large office printers with a variety of capabilities. Printers can print in monochrome or color, and they are usually accompanied by a scanner and an automatic document feeder for copying multiple documents.

Photocopiers use a different type of technology called xerography for copying paper documents. The process involves toner and heat to create a duplicate hard copy. Photocopiers are typically used to make thousands of copies of documents at once. Many modern copiers are known as multifunction printers (MFPs) and can also scan, fax, and even support memory cards.

Each Serves Different Functions

The differences between a photocopier and a printer are vast. Photocopiers remain a staple in many offices, while multi-function printers (MFPs) are becoming more popular for small businesses. Each serves different functions and can help you choose the right printing device for your needs.

When it comes to copying, traditional photocopiers are designed to process large numbers of documents quickly, while the copy speed of all-in-one laser printers can be much slower. In addition, photocopiers are able to print in both monochrome and color, whereas printers usually only offer one or the other. When it comes to large volumes of printing, printers are usually more expensive to operate than photocopiers, as toner and ink cartridges have to be replaced more often.

When it comes to printing text, printers take the lead. Printers come with a variety of print quality options, from economy to superior, and are better suited for many types of print jobs.

Copiers Are Slightly Faster than Printers

When it comes to speed, copiers are slightly faster than printers – particularly when it comes to producing multiple copies of the same document. A photocopier is a specialized machine that uses xerography and toner to make copies of documents, while a printer uses ink, toner, and heat to produce a hard copy of a document. Copiers are designed to quickly produce duplicate copies of documents, and can handle larger workloads than most printers, making them better suited for businesses. A printer would be used for printing text or images onto paper, while a copier would be used for making copies of documents.

Multifunction printers, or MFPs, often support memory cards, provide faxing capabilities, and can punch holes in paper. They generally cost more than a standard printer, but offer more features. All-in-one printers, or MFPs, are essentially printers with the addition of a copier and scanner, making them a more cost-effective option for businesses. However, copiers still remain the go-to machine for making thousands of copies of a document.

Both Can Be User Friendly

The difference between a photocopier and a printer is stark, with copiers designed to quickly produce large volumes of physical copies of documents, while printers are better suited for printing text, images, and other digital documents. Modern copiers have become much more user friendly and can be used for a variety of purposes, including scanning, faxing, hole punching, and producing digital copies of documents.

Copiers are also better than printers when it comes to printing multiple copies of a document; not only can they produce thousands of copies of a document in a short amount of time, but they can use toner and heat to transfer the image onto the paper, making them better suited for color printing. On the other hand, printers are designed to produce single copies of documents. Many printers starting with inkjet printers use liquid ink, while laser printers rely on toner cartridges, which are more expensive to operate, but also produce better print quality.

Printers Are More Versatile

Moving on from user-friendliness, when it comes to copiers and printers, one of the primary distinctions is in the versatility of the device. Generally, printers are more versatile than a copier. A printer can be used to print onto paper, while a copier is typically designed to make copies of documents.

The difference between copiers and printers is also evident in the speed at which they can print. Generally, printers print faster than copiers, with some printers able to print up to 50 pages per minute. Additionally, printers are designed to accept different sizes of paper, whereas copiers are typically limited to 8.5 x 11-inch paper.

Business owners who need to print many pages at a time may find that a copier is better suited for their needs. Copiers also have a larger paper capacity than a printer, so it can produce multiple copies of a document without having to be constantly reloaded. Digital copiers can also be used to print documents, but the printing speed is usually much slower than with a printer.

Multifunction Printers Cost More than Copiers

When it comes to printing needs, there are many different options to choose from. For instance, you can find copiers and printers, both of which offer different features and benefits. With copiers, the primary purpose is to make digital copies of documents, while printers are designed to be able to print onto paper. The major difference between copiers and printers is the type of technology they use.

Copiers use xerography, which relies on toner and heat to transfer images onto the paper, while inkjet printers use liquid ink. Multifunction printers, also known as MFPs, combine both of these technologies and offer features such as printing, scanning, faxing capabilities, and even hole punching.

Compared to copiers, multifunction printers offer more features and functions, which is why they generally cost more than copiers. Not only do they offer a wider range of features for printing, but they are also more versatile and better suited to producing high-quality copies.

Copiers Are Usually Larger

Transitioning from the previous section, it is important to note that not only do multifunction printers cost more than single-function copiers, but they are also usually larger. This is because copiers are often dedicated machines that are designed for simple copying purposes.

They contain components specifically tailored to making copies and are built to last. On the other hand, multifunction printers are designed to do more than just copying; they are also capable of printing, scanning, and sometimes faxing, all of which require additional components that add to size and weight. This makes copiers larger than multifunction printers as they are designed to handle large-scale copying needs.

Digital copiers contain a hard drive, which allows users to store large numbers of documents that can be quickly accessed and duplicated; this feature is not available in most multifunction printers, which can also add to their size. However, the size of both copiers and printers vary depending on the number of pages they can hold as well as the types of features they come with.

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

The difference between printers and copiers can be hard to distinguish, but the decision of which one to choose for your business can have a huge impact on your success. While copiers are designed to quickly produce multiple copies of a document, printers produce a digital copy onto paper. While a printer can print text, images, and other documents, a copier is usually much faster at producing multiple copies of documents. Both types of printing devices have different costs as well as benefits.

Printers come in different sizes and types. Inkjet printers use liquid ink to produce documents onto paper, while laser printers rely on toner and heat to create images and text. Both are known as multi-function printers (MFPs) and are capable of printing, scanning, faxing and more.

Modern copiers have become even more robust, with features like memory card support and color printing capabilities. Depending on your needs, one of these machines may be better suited for your business.

Get a Free Quote for copier or printer lease


When it comes to deciding between a photocopy machine or a printer, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. A printer is typically designed for printing text, images, and other documents onto paper, while a photocopier is a device that makes duplicates of documents by using toner and heat.

Printers can be used for a range of tasks, including printing in colour, scanning, copying and hole punching, while copiers are often used for making thousands of copies of documents. A multifunction printer is a combination of a copier and printer and can support memory cards, making them better suited for businesses with large printing and copying needs. Ultimately, it all comes down to what type of device is best suited for your business, and a printer technician can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Was this post useful?