Copier or Multifunction Printer or All-In-One Printer….What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a copier, all-in-one printer, and multi-function printer? This a question that we get asked a lot!

The terminology can get confusing when we refer to all our copiers as MFPs and vice versa. The thing is, these two products evolved together and combined their technology to create the office equipment we have today. The MFP is essentially the love child of a primitive copier and your basic home printer. The AiO is the distant cousin, twice removed.

The first copier started in the 1970’s with light-sensitive drums and electrical charges. Over time, the demands of the modern office required copiers to include new and better features. Soon bells and whistles like network printing, faxing, and scanning became absolutely essential. While this was happening, the basic computer printer was evolving down the same path. Manufacturers were looking for ways to make the standard printer more useful in the office.

Here’s the difference outlined.

Multi-function Printer:
The MFP is a multi-function printer (or product) that incorporates multiple functions into one machine. Made for multitasking, your MFP can copy, scan, print, fax, and email documents. Additional add-on software that we provide can allow total document workflow management and security so that an organization can increase efficiency, control access, or meet industry compliance guidelines. An MFP is connected to the network instead of to a host PC and is designed so that multiple users can utilize all of its functions. Fortunately, it does not require the resources of a host PC and is much more reliable in printing.  Unlike with AiOs, remote users can also take advantage of the MFP’s scanning and PC fax capabilities, as well as any card readers that may be built into the device.

A copier is really just a machine that can make copies and print. This early equipment is hard to find these days and very few offices have them.

All-in-One Printer:
In general, an AiO is a standalone device that can typically print, copy, scan and sometimes fax.  This configuration makes a lot of sense for virtually any home or small office, as its cost, footprint, and energy consumption is a fraction of that of commercial grade products. AiOs connect directly to a host computer via its USB port. That means the host PC must be powered on and functioning properly in order for others to share the printing function–a major inconvenience, especially when it is known that PCs begin to misbehave if they are left running and unattended for more than a few days. And take it from us, there’s nothing more annoying than hearing “I can’t print” complaints (well maybe “I can’t get on the Internet”) from co-workers, spouses, or offspring.

Disregarding network differences, the main difference between the MFP and AiO is simple enough to put into a chart:

Max. Paper Size A4 A3
Imaging Technology Ink Toner


Have any questions? Shoot us an email or call and our experienced team will help you make the right choice for your business!

Leave a Replay


At Capital Office Products, we help your business do business. While we are based out of Columbia, South Carolina, we provide the latest technology in Copystar, Kyocera, and Okidata office equipment for companies all over the country.

Recent Posts

Latest Tutorial

Close Menu
Call Now Button