The Copier vs The MFP: The difference explained

What’s the difference between a copier and a multifunction printer? While technically there is a dissimilarity, you could say they’re the same, but different. 

To explain what that distinction is, here’s the backstory.

The distinction: A story of an extinction

Many years ago, there lived many office environments these devices called copiers. These machines only copied. They duplicated documents, records, papers, files and more.  They copied well and they copied fast, but they only copied.

Often living in these same environments with copiers were standalone facsimiles, standalone scanners and standalone printers. Replicating and duplicating away, little did the copiers know that advancements in technology would soon spell their demise.

As years became decades, technology progressed allowing printers to evolve. Printers began to take on other abilities of the other devices in the office, now being able to not only print, but to scan, to send and receive faxes … and to make copies, as well. With these new abilities, these printers became known as multifunction printers (MFPs).

The changes didn’t stop there. As these printers acquired these new skills, another development, wireless technology, brought MFPs to their present state, allowing users to print to them wirelessly from workstations and mobile devices. For all the other functions, scanning, faxing and copying, users still needed to stand at multifunction printers to use them. 

But even with that limitation, all of these other changes made the MFP so useful and so versatile, standalone copiers could no longer compete. Compared to the multifunction printer, the single-purpose, standalone copier was no longer needed or wanted. 

As businesses decided MFPs were a better use of space and other resources, there was really no use for a standalone copier. Copiers generally went the way of the dinosaurs and became extinct.


While today few businesses use true “copiers,” the name lives on and has come to mean what we in our industry call multifunction printers, or MFPs, much like how Kleenex means facial tissues, Post-Its, sticky notes, and Xeroxes, photocopiers. 

So while “copiers” don’t technically exist anymore, they do as MFPs. That is why we say copiers and MFPs are the same, but different.

Hopefully, this clears up the confusion and now you know the difference between a copier and an MFP.  

Do you want to learn how an MFP can complement your office environment? Contact our team by clicking the red button below and sending us your information and we'll get right back to you!

About R.K. Black, Inc.

R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based, family-owned leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in Oklahoma and Kansas. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.

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